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luxury hotel Paris

Hotels, Paris

A Stay at Hôtel Bourg Tibourg, Paris

Hôtel Bourg Tibourg is a real hidden gem in the heart of the Marais with the feel of an exquisite private residence.

Nestled on the chic rue Bourg-Tibourg, just a few steps away from high end tea emporium Mariage Frères, the hotel is so discreet that it may only be recognised by its signature clover motif.  I’ve strolled up and down this street countless times and this was the first time I’ve ever been able to locate the hotel.

Hôtel Bourg Tibourg is an independent Marais boutique hotel with a serious style pedigree, designed by the renowned Jacques Garcia in 2001.

The hotel has just 30 rooms and is small but perfectly formed, with exquisite interiors and a cool, sophisticated ambiance.  The style is neo-gothic with opulent Byzantine and Oriental touches.

Entering the hotel, it felt like we had arrived at a bijou Parisian townhouse with lots of character and a touch of mystery.  We were warmly welcomed by the staff dressed stylishly in black and were offered a drink in the lounge while our room was checked over.

It’s a delightfully homely space with comfy sofas, a vintage record player, coffee table books, a Costes brown candle burning an intoxicating wood and bitter orange scent and the sultry sounds of Hôtel Bourg Tibourg’s exclusive vinyl album, ‘Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast’, playing in the background.

Next door is a library and honesty bar with a plush chaise-longue, inviting armchairs and bowls of fresh red apples.  The double doors lead out on to the atmospheric, red-hued inner courtyard with a statement water fountain, creeping ivy and heady jasmine flowers blending with the aromas of burning candles.

After relaxing in the lounge momentarily, we were swiftly shown to our Double Deluxe Room via the super-tiny lift that can only really fit two people sans luggage.  The smart, royal blue corridors led on to our room, which we accessed with an ornate blue and gold tassle key.

We were pleasantly surprised with the size of our room, proving Jacques Garcia’s design philosophy that ‘small can become grand’.  It must be one of the sexiest bedrooms in Paris, designed with a mix of stripes and filigree in a palette of rich vermillion, ochre and navy blue.

There are some stunning design touches such as Jacques Garcia’s signature silk tassel lamps, side tables with studded legs and a luxurious striped carpet.

Room features include a super-comfy double bed covered in fine, crisp linen, a B&O flat screen TV, CD and DVD player, wardrobe with shelves and hanging space, minibar, free wifi and a cute upholstered table with little red velvet stools.

If you feel like having a cosy night in or escaping bad weather, you can watch a DVD from the extensive library with room service and borrow an iPad.

Waiting for us in the room was the most perfect plate of fresh strawberries and raspberries, a set of beautifully-shot postcards (the beautifully-shot images can be admired on the hotel website), an English edition of Palace Costes magazine and a hand-written welcome note.

We grazed on the delicious berries while exploring the room and they were made even sweeter when enjoyed on the romantic balcony, where we could people-watch from high above the Marais.

Behind the double wood doors carved with the hotel’s clover motif was the spacious, wood-panelled bathroom.  It includes a large sink, deep-soaking bathtub and mosaic-tiled shower with good water pressure and plenty of fluffy towels.

Best of all is the full set of Costes red line bathroom products with a spicy floral aroma of juniper berries, coriander seeds, rosewood, incense, musk, laurel, white pepper and lavender.  As a discerning hotel bathroom product lover, I was thrilled to try out these exclusive products during our stay and the intense scents filled our room with a seductive aroma.

That afternoon, Steven headed over to the Palais de Tokyo while I caught up with my Parisian friend Coralie for some shopping and afternoon tea in the Marais.  With so many French designer stores, cute independent boutiques and pavement cafes and boulangeries on the doorstep, the hotel’s prime location really is unbeatable.

After a glorious night’s sleep in that heavenly bed, we headed down to the basement breakfast room for a morning feast.  We had the cavernous, arched room all to ourselves and loved its atmospheric mix of Medieval-style tapestries, ornate chandeliers, cheetah print chairs and tassels aplenty.

We were served pots of Mariage Frères Earl Grey tea and large glasses of freshly-squeezed orange juice, along with another beautifully-manicured fruit plate and fat-free yoghurts.

Breakfast also includes two organic eggs with the option of adding bacon or smoked salmon, but we simply enjoyed the exquisite pastries and ficelle baguette accompanied by jams and French butter.  I highly recommend taking a leisurely breakfast at Hôtel Bourg Tibourg, as it really enhances the hotel experience and is a luxurious start to the day.

Hôtel Bourg Tibourg is a stylish bolthole that will set your heart aflutter with its sumptuous design, cool ambiance and attention to detail.  It’s an irresistible hotel for couples spending a romantic break in the Marais and is sure to make for a memorable stay.

For more information and booking, visit: www.bourgtibourg.com

Chérie City was a guest of Hôtel Bourg Tibourg Paris

All photos by Chérie City

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris

Meet Kléopatre at Le Bristol Paris

Fa-Raon, the pampered Birman cat at Le Bristol Paris, is beloved of guests and known across the world as the luxury palace hotel’s number one VIP.

However, no cat is an island and Fa-Raon needed a fellow four-legged friend to accompany him on his adventures around the hotel.  Enter Kléopatre – an equally regal white Birman cat who Fa-Raon has graciously welcomed into his stylish abode with open paws.

Kléopatre and Fa-Raon live together in a special apartment located within the hotel, which has been exclusively decorated by renowned street artists, Renk.  The walls are covered in their names and the word ‘cat’ in many different languages.

Le Bristol insiders say that Fa-Raon has already taken Kléopatre on a tour of his favourite hotel haunts, including the top of the Concierge counter, which he often uses as his own napping spot or vanity table for grooming.

In celebration of the arrival of Kléopatre, Maison Goyard has created for her a bespoke ‘Oscar’ bow-tie collar, which will be worn with a silver tag by silversmith Christofle and graphic design duo Ich & Kar who created the personalised lettering.  It matches a similar Goyard bow-tie collar given to Fa-Raon by the maison on his third birthday.

Yes, these fluffy Parisian felines have the kind of glamorous lives and social connections that only you and I could only ever dream of.  But don’t be envious, just stop by Le Bristol and see if you can spot them in the garden or curled up in the lobby.  If you’re lucky, they may extend a paw and welcome you into their home.

Photos by Le Bristol Paris

Bars, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris

A Cocktail Tour of Paris with Le Bar du Bristol

Le Bar du Bristol is a favourite haunt among stylish Parisians and clued-up visitors for a chic apéritif or an evening of creative cocktails.

Opened at the end of 2012, the bar is an intimate, cosy hideaway within the luxurious five star palace hotel Le Bristol, in Paris’ prestigious eighth arrondissement.  It has Le Bristol’s signature friendly, unpretentious atmosphere and attracts a well-heeled crowd – perfect for a bit of civilised people-watching.

I had a memorable stay at Le Bristol a few years ago and was thrilled to be invited back for two nights to attend a special masterclass and cocktail tour of Paris hosted by award-winning Head Bartender Maxime Hoerth.

We travelled to Paris by Eurostar and enjoyed the delights of Standard Premier – spacious seating, generous luggage allowance and a tasty meal with drinks and plenty of tea or coffee, plus a selection of complimentary glossy magazines to pass the time.

On arrival, I found that the lovely people at Le Bristol had kindly assigned me the very same Junior Suite that I stayed in last time as a surprise.  It was wonderful to feel like a regular and I was touched that they had planned this even though the hotel was busy.  After checking in, we were granted a private audience with Fa-Raon, the hotel’s famous Birman cat (he is the hotel’s real VIP, after all).

The highlight of the trip was a private cocktail masterclass at Le Bar du Bristol with Head Bartender Maxime Hoerth.  After a leisurely lunch in Le Jardin Français, we spent a few hours learning all about Le Bristol’s approach to the art of cocktails, even getting behind the bar ourselves.

Designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon and Maja Oetker, Le Bar du Bristol is a chic yet homely space with exquisite frescoes and tapestries, plus quirky touches such as leopard print stools and taxidermy birds and peacocks.  There is even a cosy open fireplace where guests can curl up with a fine whisky – that’s if Fa-Raon hasn’t claimed the space for himself.

Head Bartender Maxime Hoerth is a well-known personality on the Paris cocktail scene and was awarded the title of ‘Best Craftsman in France 2011′.  Not only is he France’s top mixologist (and a really cool, friendly guy), but he knows Paris inside out and is happy to share tips on where to go.

Maxime’s favourite cocktail is an Old Fashioned, so he demonstrated how to make six different versions of the classic drink, including a special Christmas Old Fashion made with a home-made spice syrup, an Irish Old Fashioned using Kahlua and a Bourbon Old Fashioned.

Maxime offered to create a special cocktail for each of our websites, based on the types of drinks that we like.  I reeled off a number of favourite ingredients and within a matter of moments, the Chérie Club was born.

Based on a classic Clover Club, my new signature drink includes No.3 London Dry Gin, St Germain liqueur, muddled raspberries, lychee flavours, rose syrup, lemon juice and egg white.  I loved the fresh, fragrant taste and the romantic presentation with dried rosebuds and a touch of sugar on the rim.

An exciting new project from Le Bar du Bristol is the Spirited Cocktails Collection, a collaboration between Maxime Hoerth and La Maison du Chocolat Master Chef Nicolas Cloiseau.  The limited edition chocolates are based on Le Bar du Bristol’s unique cocktails flavours, marrying the finest juices, fruits and tea with sumptuous dark and milk chocolate.

The five chocolate flavours include MOF2, Bellini, Faubourg, So Bristol and Peacock and come in coffets of 8 or 27 chocolates bearing the signature colours of Le Bristol.

Our first stop on the cocktail tour was Le Mary Celeste, a hip nautical-inspired bar in the Marais.  Created by the team behind Candelaria and Glass, Le Mary Celeste is a popular spot among Paris’ creative crowd – it even hosted a pop-up raw juice bar during Paris Fashion Week.

Over drinks and bites, Maxime Hoerth introduced us to the Paris cocktail scene, explaining that the arrival of the Experimental Cocktail Club kicked off a trend for artisanal cocktails served in low-key bars in the city’s coolest neighbourhoods.

The well-edited selection of cocktails are exciting and innovative, plus the bar offers a tempting menu of small plates and has a daily oyster happy hour.  My chosen cocktail was Valentina – Plantation 3 Stars Rum, violet liqueur, fino sherry and lime (€12).  Served in a coupe, the fragrant and tangy cocktail had an attractive pale pink colour and was finished with a sprig of lavender.

We grazed on a selection of gourmet small plates including the most delicious Gratin Japonais (€9), Spiced Cauliflower with almonds and pickled red onions (€8), Crudo of Pollack with with soya sauce, orange and fennel (€11), Aubrac Beef Tartare with rice, pork rinds, fresh herbs and a spicy sauce (€12) and Devilled Eggs with ginger, fried rice and spring onions (€7).

Dishes on the constantly changing menu are so tasty and inventive that it’s worth visiting Le Mary Celeste for dinner rather than just drinks, to experience as many as possible.  The bar is also well-placed for a hip bar crawl with neighbours such as Candelaria, Little Red Door, Grazie and wine bar Au Passage.

Just a short walk away from Le Mary Celeste, is Sherry Butt, a laid-back, spacious bar that specialises in rare and interesting whiskies.  It has a hidden, discreet feel and is designed in a cool industrial loft style with exposed brick walls, high ceilings and leather banquettes.

Cathleen McGarry and Amaury Guyot opened Sherry Butt after honing their skills at Curio Parlour and Prescription Cocktail Club.  We were lucky enough to have a large table to ourselves when we visited on a chilled out Wednesday evening, but the bar can get much busier when DJs play on weekends.

Sherry Butt is known for its excellent Whiskey Flights, but we were keen to try the cocktails, all of which are priced between 12 and 13 Euros.  After the delicious small plates at Le Mary Celeste, I was in the mood for something sweet, so I tried a Banana Rose – Calvados, Tawny Port, banana flambee syrup, lemon juice and chocolate bitters (€13).

The bar bites at Sherry Butt are simple, delicious and ideal for sharing.  We grazed on moreish Pata Negra ham (€20), Taramasolata with Truffle and toasted sourdough (€13), cool and creamy Burrata Tartines with pistachio pesto (€14) and some tasty Sausage Rolls with tomato and Pedro Ximinez chutney (€12).

Sherry Butt is a cool, chilled out place to catch up with friends or bring a date, plus it’s close to the bars of the Marais and within stumbling distance of Saint Paul to catch a cab.

The next evening, Maxime took us to Jefrey’s, a small but sophisticated bar in the fashionable Montorgueil neighbourhood, on the same cobbled street as Experimental Cocktail Club (and hipster burger joint Big Fernand for pre or post-cocktail munchies).

The speakeasy bar takes inspiration from the Prohibition era and is furnished with comfy purple velvet and and brown leather armchairs, silver tray tables and dimmed lighting.  The mezzanine level features a vintage gramophone and a cabinet storing premium bottles bought by regulars.

Mixing at the bar is Guillaume Bisiaux, formerly at the Prince de Galles and Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme.  His innovative cocktails (many with American-inspired names) include the the gin-based Colline de Portland, an El Rey made with Tio Pepe sherry and a Bubble Cup made with Mamont vodka, Pimms Cup, raspberry cordial, rose and Champagne.

Another cool touch is Jefrey’s DIY Martini, offering a wide selection of spirits and mixers for a custom drink.

I loved the refreshing, smooth Bonne Poire – Grey Goose La Poire vodka, liqueur de Poire Bierce, Alain Milliat Summer Pear Nectar, lime juice and home-made vanilla syrup.  We accompanied our drinks with some light bar plates of scrumptious Pata Negra ham, Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella and Cheese Straws.

To round off a splendid evening in Paris, it was then back ‘home’ to Le Bar du Bristol.  By night, the bar has a warm glow and buzzing atmosphere with well-heeled guests sipping cocktails on the plush sofas.  A cool Parisienne DJ plays sexy French disco and soul and the enormous screen behind the bar shows contemporary art videos by a different artist each month (during our visit, Corsican artist Ange Leccia’s work was shown).

On arrival we were presented with a sweet and fruity welcome cocktail while Maxime talked us through the bar menu.  I started with a zingy, aptly aptly named So British – Earl Grey infused Beefeater 24 gin, Monin elderflower syrup, freshly squeezed lime and and fresh grapefruit juice.

The cocktails are creatively presented, particularly the 365 – a limited edition cocktail made to celebrate the bar’s first birthday – served in a tall, elegant coupe and finished with a colourful peacock feather.  I also loved the warm, spicy Hot Punch, which was an excellent night cap.

Tapas are by the hotel’s Executive Chef Eric Frechon and we munched on a luxurious selection of Gambas Tempura with ginger and coriander mayonnaise, Maki Rolls with king crab and vegetables in spicy ketchup, Pata Negra ham and Crudités.  To end the night on a sweet note, we enjoyed a plate of exquisite mini pastries, a selection of macarons and hand-made chocolates.

Le Bar du Bristol is open until 1.30am and it is a rare luxury to simply wander back upstairs after a night out in Paris – hotel bars are perfect for that.

The next morning, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of Eggs Benedict with shaved black truffle, viennoiserie by Laurent Jeannin, fresh apple juice and a pot of English breakfast tea, served in my room.  A stay at Le Bristol isn’t complete without a relaxing swim in the hotel’s glorious rooftop pool with a great view over Paris.

We finished our stay with an indulgent lunch in the hotel’s Michelin star brasserie de luxe, 114 Faubourg.  I took a reflective pause in the hotel’s beautiful, peaceful garden before we headed back to Gare du Nord to take the Eurostar back to London without even the slightest hint of a sore head – it must be the magic of Le Bristol.

Rates at Le Bristol start from €830 per night on a room only basis.  For more information and booking, visit: www.lebristolparis.com

The Spirited Cocktails Collection is available at La Maison du Chocolat stores and online from 5th May 2014. 

Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord with return fares from £69. Eurostar also offers connecting fares from more than 300 stations in the UK. Fastest London-Paris journey time is 2hr 15 minutes. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 08432 186 186.

2-for-1
Eurostar travellers to Paris can also take advantage of 2 for 1 entry into paying exhibitions and permanent collections at some of the city’s most popular galleries including; Musée d’Orsay, les Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Le musée du quai Branly and le Jeu de Paume – all by simply showing their Eurostar tickets at entry.

Standard Premier
With the option of flexible fares, Standard Premier offers the freedom to work, think, or simply unwind. You will be presented with calm, spacious surroundings with on-board staff offering a light meal and a selection of magazines. Standard Premier fares start from £189 return.

Chérie City was a guest of Le Bristol and Eurostar

Photos by Chérie City, Le Bristol, Le Mary Celeste & Jefrey’s

France, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris

A Luxury Stay at Shangri-La Paris

Shangri-La Paris is one of the city’s most refined new luxury hotels, combining French elegance with warm Asian hospitality.

The five star hotel occupies the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte, and was previously known as Palais Iéna.

Nestled discreetly in the prestigious, leafy 16th arrondissement, Shangri-La Paris is on the doorstep of cultural delights such as the Trocadero, Palais de Tokyo, Galliera Museum, Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet and the Avenue Wilson food market.

It’s also conveniently close to the Seine, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysées and the designer stores on the chic Avenue Montaigne and Avenue George V.

The mansion house has been thoughtfully restored with many of it original features revived and the interiors have been designed by the inimitable Pierre-Yves Rochon.  The stately marble lobby is decorated with elegant chandeliers, Ming Dynasty vases, integrated monograms of Prince Roland Bonaparte and elaborate floral displays –  during our stay there were large vases of vibrant sunflowers.

The lobby leads seamlessly to the grand staircase and private salons where tea and exquisite cakes and are served in refined surroundings.

If there are no private events being held, it’s worth walking up the staircase for a peek at the opulent Louis XIV style Grand Salon with its gold-leaf appliqué walls, the mahogany panelled Salle à Manger and the feminine Salon de Famille with its ceiling painted with an orb of sphinxes and plants.  Close your eyes for a moment and it feels like the Château de Versailles has been transported to the heart of Paris.

The south-facing hotel features 101 rooms and suites, including the impressive Suite Shangri-La with its dazzling interiors and outdoor terrace boasting breath-taking panoramas of the city.  This summer, the hotel opened a brand new botanically inspired Garden Wing with 20 rooms and suites overlooking a perfectly landscaped garden and courtyard.

My beautiful Eiffel Premier room was very spacious and elegant, designed in an ‘Empire meets luxury minimalist’ style, in a palette of blue, white and ecru.  Its custom-made furnishings have luxurious textures such as silk-threaded wallpaper, soft velvet seats, crystal hardware and an elaborate patterned carpet.

For true authenticity, Pierre-Yves Rochon researched archive documents and photos of the original Palais Iéna interiors and translated the motifs and fixture for a contemporary luxury hotel.

Room features include a large LCD TV with cable and movie channels, executive writing desk complete with stationary drawer, a comfy seating area and free wifi.  At the entrance to the room is a separate drawer unit with a Nespresso machine, a kettle with a selection of fine teas, a well-stocked minibar and refined china cups and saucers.

I was welcomed with a fine bottle of Château Le Borderon Haut-Médoc 2009 and a fruit bowl, placed next to the prettiest flowers that brightened the room.

The highlight of staying in an Eiffel Premier Room is the expansive terrace with sun loungers and a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower.  What could be more magical than enjoying a glass of Champagne on the terrace while watching the evening Eiffel Tower light show?

The walk-in wardrobe is a wonderful feature, with extensive storage space, a floor-to-ceiling mirror and a vanity desk.  I made use of the complimentary shoe shine service, leaving my shoes in a basket in the wardrobe and returning later to find them looking fresh and renewed.

I found the king-size bed extremely comfortable, covered in sumptuous linen with a silk-trimmed throw and blue cushions.  At evening turndown, complimentary bottles of mineral water were placed by the bed with a Shangri-La  bookmark and the room was prepared for sleeping.

The elegant marble bathroom with heated floors features a rainfall shower, deep soaking tub, double sink, a mist-free mirror with flat-screen TV and a drawer filled with bathroom essentials.  There are plenty of large, fluffy towels, face cloths and plush embroidered bathrobes and slippers.

The bathroom is stocked with a generous amount of BVLGARI White Tea bathroom amenities plus bath salts and a reed diffuser with the Shangri-La signature scent – a blend of vanilla, sandal, musk, bergamot and tea spiced with ginger.

In the morning, we enjoyed breakfast served in La Bauhinia, the hotel’s stunning all-day dining restaurant.  To begin the day well, La Bauhinia offers a selection of substantial American, Chinese, healthy and Continental set breakfasts.  As this was a real foodie trip, I ordered lightly from the à la carte each morning and loved the fluffy pancakes with maple syrup, crepes with sugar and home-made apple compote topped with fresh berries.

I was kindly offered a newspaper or magazine to read and was brought some bircher muesli and fresh green apple as an amuse-bouche.  Breakfast service can often let down even the best of hotels, but at Shangri-La Paris, the efficient staff make it easy to start the day in a good mood.

Shangri-La hotels and resorts are known for their superior health and leisure facilities and Shangri-La Paris really wows with its stunning 15x6m indoor pool.  Not only does the pool look heavenly with its tiny mosaic tiles, grand pillars and hand-painted blue sky ceiling, but it has a great sense of calm and the water is just the right temperature.  I enjoyed a leisurely morning swim and took in some sun on the serene outdoor terrace with a pot of green tea.

I was kindly treated to a fantastic facial at the hotel’s chic CARITA spa, which left my skin glowing and deeply hydrated.  There is also an excellent fitness centre with state-of-the-art equipment.

Shangri-La Paris features three fabulous restaurants, an indoor and outdoor bar and intimate lounges.  La Bauhinia, with its glass cupola and Murano glass chandelier, serves afternoon tea, light bites and a dinner menu of French and Asian specialities.

The one Michelin star Shang Palace brings the art of Cantonese fine dining to Paris, serving authentic Chinese dishes and excellent set lunch menus with traditional dim sum, barbecued meats and comforting soups.

The hotel’s gastronomic, two Michelin star restaurant L’Abeille (paying homage to Napoleon’s bee emblem) is one of the city’s hottest fine dining restaurants and during our dinner there, it was a full house. Executive Chef Philippe Labbé creates exciting, innovative dishes using the freshest ingredients and the restaurant’s doors open to the garden in the warmer months.

Before dining at L’Abeille, we had a Champagne apéritif at the pop up Bollinger Champagne Bar on the first floor outdoor terrace.  Le Bar is a cosier spot with expertly-mixed cocktails served in an Empire style room with oil paintings of horses adorning the walls.

Service at Shangri-La Paris is at the typically high level that you can expect from the renowned hotel group and I found the staff friendly, meticulous and polite.  Head Concierge Tony Le Goff arranged for us to visit the beautiful Château Vaux le Vicomte and suggested we take a private tour of the Seine on a Venetian water taxi and lunch at the nearby Chalet des Iles.

Shangri-La Paris is an exquisite hotel that brings back to life the opulence of a 19th century palace, balanced with understated contemporary French and Asian design.  With a heavenly pool, indulgent food and magnificent views on the doorstep, it’s easy to get lost in the charming world of Shangri-La while the city awaits.

A double room at Shangri-La Hotel, Paris starts from 750 Euros per room per night (room only).  Price includes tax and service.  To book, visit: www.shangri-la.com or call 0800 028 3337.

Chérie City was invited by Shangri-La Paris

Photos by Chérie City and Shangri-La Paris

Hotels, Hotels - Design, Hotels - Luxury, Paris, Restaurants

Lunch At La Cuisine, Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris offers a new interpretation of luxury in the city, reviving a famous historic hotel and incorporating Philippe Starck’s artistic vision.  Located in a well-heeled part of town, the hotel is just a short walk from the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe and the beautiful Parc Monceau.

The monumental five star Royal Monceau opened in 1928 and was reborn as part of the prestigious Raffles group with a brand new ‘Starck look’, in late 2010.  Over the years has attracted an impressive roll call of celebrities, artists and dignitaries including Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill and more recently Robert De Niro, Madonna and Sofia Coppola.

The hotel’s investment in contemporary art and culture is unrivaled, with its own ‘Art District’ gallery hosting regular exhibitions and a special Art Concierge to connect guests with the Paris art scene.  There are a number of pieces by renowned artists throughout and it also runs the very cool blog, Art For Breakfast.

I visited Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris for a leisurely lunch at the main restaurant, La Cuisine, by Executive Chef Laurent André.  The Jura-born chef began his career under the tutelage of three Michelin star chef Alain Chapel, followed by a number of years with the legendary Alain Ducasse in Paris, London and Hong Kong.  He also oversees hotel’s Italian restaurant Il Carpaccio and lighter dishes at Le Bar Long.

La Cuisine continues the exquisite design of the Lobby with high ceilings leading the eye up towards a striking ceiling fresco named ‘Jardin à la française’ by Stéphane Calais.  The large dining room features central tables with cosy leather banquettes and semi-private tables closed off by sheer white curtains (a Philippe Starck signature).  The walls are adorned with intriguing contemporary artworks and the cabinets feature china plates decorated by celebrities and artists who have dined there.

We were seated at a table close to the attractive open kitchen surrounded by hundreds of Murano glass bottles, where we could observe chef Gabriel Grapin meticulously adding the finishing touches to the dishes.  We were promptly served freshly-baked bread and butter and a bottle of ice cold still water.  The lunchtime crowd was a mostly business types, friends catching up and a few families with young, well-behaved children.

I started with the Brittany Crab – light jelly, avocado cream and warm royal emulsion (€29).  The crab was served in a glass verrine and resembled a colourful, well-manicured garden.  The bottom layer of flaky, meaty crab was deliciously fresh and covered with smooth, cool and creamy avocado puree.  It was finished with crisp julienne vegetables including carrots, beetroot and yellow pepper with a thin apple fan.  The warm layered crab jelly and mousse was airy and souffléed with a strong seafood flavour and a light foam.

Steven ordered the Mackerel marinated in white wine with Pissaladiere garnish (€25).  The mackerel was presented two ways – shredded and mixed with a light dressing and topped with a garden of greenery, and cooked rare and served on a thin tart base with slithers of red pepper, onion and black olives.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos at La Cuisine, so the images featured are examples of other dishes on the menu.

Before our main courses arrived, we were presented with a smart box of knives to choose from; we both opted for ‘The Porsche’, a light-weight, streamline steel knife that resembled a weapon from the Matrix (the desired Starck effect, of course).

I was tempted by the Beef Fillet from Normandy sprinkled with farm bacon – baked potatoes, romaine salad and souffléed potatoes (€46).  The thick, plump fillet of beef was succulent, lean and nicely charred on the outside with a juicy pink centre.  The baked potatoes were soft and flavoursome and topped with a puffed potato crisp and slim curls of bacon.  The romaine ‘salad’ was just two really tiny yet perfectly formed leaf and the rich jus finished the dish nicely.

Steven ordered the Roasted saddle of lamb from Lozère – shallots marmalade, stuffed macaronis pasta (€39).  The lamb was served perfectly pink and rolled with a rich herb stuffing.  A row of hearty macaronis were stuffed with bone marrow and the dish was finished with soft, braised fennel and a meaty jus.

I was delighted to see that desserts are by the ‘Picasso of pastry’ Pierre Hermé – a perfect match for the sophisticated luxury of La Cuisine.  I ordered Pierre Hermé’s signature cake, Ispahan – rose macaron biscuit, rose petal cream, fresh raspberries and lychees (€16).  The macaron-based cake was beautifully presented with delicate, fragrant and fresh flavours.  The macaron was topped with a rose petal and liquid sugar tears – simply stunning and very Parisian.

Steven went for the Baba au Rhum – brioche dough moistened with old dark agricultural rum and Chantilly cream (€16).  Our waitress drizzled the 15-year old aged rum over the Baba at the table and generously asked him to say when she had poured enough – a nice touch.  Pierre Hermé’s Baba is a classic done well and the rum had lots of character, complimenting the brioche well.

La Cuisine is the perfect spot in Paris for a chic, memorable lunch, as it offers innovative food in a relaxed, inspiring environment.  Staff are warm, friendly and attentive, providing exceptional yet unpretentious service.  In the warmer months, dine in the Terrace Garden under parasols around the glass pond directly above the swimming pool and spa.  Members and guests staying in the Presidential suites can hide away with a Havana or Montecristo cigar in the new private Viñales Club.

Until the end of December, renowned Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his team bring revolutionary Japanese gastronomy to La Cuisine with à la carte dishes and Omakase (the traditional Chef’s Choice tasting menu).  Le Bar Long is also serving Asian-inspired cocktails and sake specially imported from the Hokusetsu House brewery on the northern Japanese Isle of Sado.

Before leaving, linger a little longer and explore La Librairie des Arts bookshop offering limited edition books, artefacts. books, prints and jewellery.  Another must see at the hotel is Le Royal Eclaireur, a special outpost of Armand Hadida’s petite group of Paris concept stores selling niche designer pieces in an imaginative setting.

For more information and booking, visit: www.raffles.com/paris

Chérie City was a guest of Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

All images by Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris, Restaurants

Lunch At Camélia, Mandarin Oriental Paris

Mandarin Oriental Paris is one of the city’s most exciting hotel openings over the past few years, bringing a touch of Oriental style and hospitality to Paris’ first arrondissement.

Located on the prestigious rue Saint-Honore, close to Balenciaga, Colette and Chanel, Mandarin Oriental Paris perfectly reflects the luxury and elegance of  the chic shopping street.  Behind the listed 1930s Art Deco facade is a contemporary, sleek and tranquil lobby with a central courtyard.  The stunning heart of the hotel is designed with clean lines, marble walls, floor-to-ceiling windows in grey, cream and dark magenta tones.

The very first thing on our Paris agenda was lunch at Camélia by renowned chef Thierry Marx, often described as the Parisian Heston Blumenthal, for his innovative molecular gastronomy.  The extent of his creativity can be experienced in his modern fine dining restaurant Sur Mesure, however, Camélia is a more relaxed affair with a lighter atmosphere and more accessible menu.

Designed by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Jouin Manku Studio, Camélia is a beautiful all-white restaurant with curved surfaces, comfortable leather booths and giant petals adorning the walls, to give the impression of being enveloped inside a flower.  The restaurant overlooks and extends out to the tranquil camellia garden, where guests can dine in the warmer months.

The hottest table at Camélia is the whimsical Garden Table, which seats 8 people and can be privately booked.  It reminded me of the birdcage that Vanessa Paradis swings inside for the iconic 90s Coco Chanel advert.  With the camellia as Chanel’s emblem, the birdcage appears to be another fitting tribute to nearby neighbours Chanel.

We were shown to our table by our friendly, charming waiter and were brought a bottle of still water followed by freshly-baked individual baguettes.  At lunch, Camélia is mostly made up of business clientele and the families of hotel guests, however, better weather draws a more leisurely shopping crowd to the garden.

To start, I ordered the Bigorre Ham – toast decorated with shallots and red wine (€32).  I was advised by my waiter that it is a simple dish that allows the flavours of the ham to be enjoyed on their own.  Perhaps some guests expect a more elaborate interpretation, but this dish is quite restrained and all about high quality produce.

The generous portion of ham was flavoursome with a hint of fruitiness and melted in the mouth.  The crisp slice of toast topped with red wine-infused shallots and fresh dill went exceptionally well with the ham.

Steven went for the Crab – open ravioli, infused with yuzu (€31).  The fresh crab was tucked neatly between thin, almost transparent ravioli sheets and served cold in a creamy, fragrant sauce.  It was a light and interesting start to the meal.

There were so many enticing choices on the menu, but I was particularly keen to try the Lobster from Brittany – bisque, gnocchi and green pea puree (€56).  The plump, succulent lobster was meaty and tender and was served with a small copper pan of rich bisque.  The gnocchi was light, buttery and nicely grilled on the outside and came with an attractive garden of pea puree, fresh peas, edamame, shallots and herbs.

Steven tried the Hereford Beef – thinly sliced, homemade potato wafers, tartar sauce (€45).  The high quality beef was almost like a carpaccio, with a rare centre.  It was topped with a garden of crunchy greenery, fresh dill and a light covering of smooth, tangy tartar sauce.  The homemade potato wafers were crisp, golden and well-seasoned.

For dessert, it was difficult to choose between pastry chef Pierre Mathieu’s exquisite creations, so I went to take a close up look at the cakes and pastries at the Cake Shop.  Here, hotel guests and the public can buy cakes to take away and the two favourites are Le Saint-Honoré and the hotel’s signature cake Le Mandarin – 62% dark chocolate mousse, vanilla cream, variety of chocolate textures.

I was particularly drawn to the decadent looking Baiano – praline crust, variety of chocolate textures (€14).  The dense, crispy praline was enrobed in glossy dark chocolate, a lighter chocolate ganache dusted with fine cocoa, rose gold chocolate pebbles, a fleck of gold leaf and the hotel’s signature ‘J’aime Paris’ chocolate plaque.  It was an indulgent, masterful dessert – the kind that cake lovers flock to Paris for.

Steven ordered the Strawberry and Raspberry Sorbet (€15), which came in an adorable little Mandarin Oriental ice cream cup.  The two sorbets were fresh, sweet and bursting with fruit, topped with three dainty pastel pink meringues.  We finished with a pot of fresh mint tea.

After lunch, we were given a guided tour of the hotel, including the sumptuous spa by Guerlain and the guest rooms designed by Sybille de Margerie.  The breathtaking Cabochons Suite with its private terrace offers spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower.

Camélia is a stylish and memorable restaurant with excellent food and romantic surroundings.  Even though it attracts a business crowd, it is the perfect place for a fashionable catch up with friends, or an intimate meal.  There is a more affordable menu du jour at €55 and you can even stop by Camélia in the afternoon for tea and cake.

If you visit Camélia for dinner, be sure to start the evening with a signature J’aime Paris Champagne cocktail at Bar 8.  The impressive 9 tonne bar is carved from one piece of marble, sourced in Spain and carved in Italy.  The atmosphere is more seductive and warm, with the most exquisite Lalique coloured crystal droplets scattered across the gold walls.

For more information and booking, visit: www.mandarinoriental.com/paris/

Chérie City was a guest of Mandarin Oriental Paris

Images by Chérie City and Mandarin Oriental Paris

Designers, Events, Fashion, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, News, Paris

Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize 2012: Grand Final

Last night, the grand final of the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize 2012 took place at Hôtel Plaza Athénée on the stylish Avenue Montaigne, Paris.  The judging panel named design duo Augustin Teboul the winner of the prestigious prize, from the five shortlisted designers.

Annelie Augustin and Odély Teboul received an engraved Baccarat crystal trophy and will now use the €30,000 fund to take their brand to the next level.  They will also have the opportunity to stay at a Dorchester Collection property in either Milan or Paris during Fashion Week 2013.

The evening included a catwalk show where the designers presented key pieces from their collections to a select audience of judges, international guests and media.  Augustin Teboul were then toasted with Laurent Perrier Champagne at a drinks reception in the hotel’s beautiful inner courtyard, Le Cour Jardin.

View the designs of winners Augustin Teboul and the talented shortlisted designers….

Augustin Teboul

Quentin Veron

IRM Design

Calla

Les Garçons Paris

For more information, visit: www.dorchestercollection.com

All photos: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for The Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris

Literary Luxe at Pavillon des Lettres, Paris

On every trip to Paris, I always seem to gravitate to colette on the rue Saint-Honoré, the gourmet food emporiums of the Madeleine and the Palais de Tokyo, so where better to stay than the ultra chic 8e arrondissement.

The Pavillon des Lettres has been open for just over a month, so I was excited to be one of the first bloggers to ruffle up the pillows and make myself at home.

A stylish boutique hotel, the Pavillon des Lettres pays homage to literary greats and its historic location on a quiet street just steps away from the Elysée Palace makes it perfect for getting caught up in the romantic, epic tales of the past.

The Pavillon des Lettres is the sister hotel of the established and highly regarded Pavillon de la Reine in the Place des Vosges (just see the glowing reports on tripadvisor).

Designed in sumptuous colours and textures by Didier Benderli, the 26 guest rooms are dedicated to a different iconic writer, from A-Z.  We stayed in La Fontaine, dedicated to the great poet of the 17th century – an edition of his collection of work, The Fables, was left on the desk for bedtime reading.

Our superior room was decorated in earthy, clay shades with luxurious touches – a croc effect silk throw and metallic headboard, fine patterned carpet and a soft velvet chair.  The room is personalised with quotes from The Fables stencilled onto the painted canvas wall –  a lovely touch.

The bed was heavenly and plush with luxurious linen, plump pillows and a hi-tech alarm clock, just in case you sleep a bit too soundly.

The Pavillon des Lettres also offers a guests an iPad to use as a directory or for checking up on emails and Paris happenings (there is also complimentary wifi).  It really improves the city experience when you can search for an exhibition or restaurant online and ask the Pavillon Concierge to help arrange a reservation.

The superior rooms are petite, like most in Paris, but the designer makes good use of the space and it feels cosy rather than restrictive. The only tiny improvement would be an electric socket close to a mirror, as styling my hair proved difficult (the bathroom only has a shaver plug).

The bathroom door at the Pavillon des Lettres adheres to the new design trend of a glass door, making it almost part of the bedroom. Although this may not be to everyone’s taste, it adds a seductive edge to the bookish theme of the hotel.

Of course, there is a light curtain to draw across the door when occupied and the engraved inscription on the door continues the literary design.

The toiletries were plentiful, generously sized and by Plantation London – a brand which I hadn’t previously heard of and still can’t seem to find now.

Perhaps some more established luxury beauty brands would be a better match for the hotel amenities, such as Miller Harris, Annick Goutal, E’SPA or The White Company.

After a perfect, sound sleep we literally tore ourselves away from the cloud-like bed and got ready for a long, lazy and indulgent breakfast in the salon.

The buffet breakfast is small but perfectly formed and of exceptional quality. There is a selection of everything you might like for breakfast – scrambled eggs and streaky bacon, mini patisserie and baguette, cold meats, a cheese board, cereal, dried fruit, yoghurt and juices.

The breakfast staff were friendly and attentive and brought us a large silver jug of perfectly roasted coffee served with hot milk. Another treat to wake us up was the delicious, naturally sweet freshly squeezed orange juice – what better way to start the day!

The Pavillon des Lettres makes the most wonderful buttery and rich scrambled eggs with crispy bacon – the best I’ve ever had in Paris!

They have also paid close attention to detail with pleasing touches such as a cute little pot of Beurre d’Isigny and an exquisite box of Alain Milliat jam, marmalade and honey.

I also couldn’t help marvelling over the designer coffee pot and milk jug and the most lovely matte striped china – very chic.

The salon is the heart of the hotel’s literary spirit and is perfect for relaxing after a long day exploring the city or for a pre-dinner apéritif.

Adding to the homely atmosphere is the honesty bar, where you can pour a drink and record it on a tab – an honourable, welcoming touch.

The open fire is so inviting that we almost considered ‘accidentally’ missing our Eurostar train home to sit curled up on the enveloping velvet seats with a book for just another day.

There is no shortage of reading material in the salon, as the Pavillon keep the tables stocked up with French and international newspapers, Madame Figaro and T- the New York Times Style Magazine.

There is no restaurant at the Pavillon des Lettres as such, but you can order room service if you’re intent on not leaving the warmth of the hotel.

The Pavillon des Lettres is an ideal city bolt-hole for couples looking for a privacy in a luxurious setting or solo business travellers who value a relaxed and homely hotel with character.

For a hotel in its early stage of opening, the Pavillon des Lettres already feels like an long-established residence and a part of the neighbourhood.

Its understated, warm atmosphere and refined central location make it a perfect choice for a very special, memorable  stay in Paris.

Pavillon des Lettres, 12 rue des Saussaies, 75008 Paris.

Photos by Cherie City

* Cherie City was a guest of the Pavillon des Lettres.