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LUXURY HOTELS: Le Hotel Monceau - Raffles Paris
Style: Glamour-meets-humour
Scene: champagne-cork pop from the Champs Elysees
Seen in the lobby: The rich and ritzy
 
Walking the red carpet into Le Royal Monceau- Raffles Paris is like attending a premiere. This is a theatrical hotel. Just being here is an event. If they had to makeover Versailles for the 21st century it would look like this.
The hotel has just been named as the city's latest Palace hotel but I don't need a rating of distinction to tell me I've arrived at Paris' ultimate pleasure palace. Phillippe Starck's much talked about makeover of the 1930s hotel is an extravaganza of splashy art, shiny chandeliers, multifaceted mirrors and soft leather.
 
Linked to the hotel are the exclusive Prive apartments; a private elevator takes me to my suite on the fourth floor. It is starry and stunning. Soft leather couches, coffee table books, original art and everywhere Starck's signature mirrored walls. Propped in the corner is a guitar - a hallmark of Le Royal Monceau rooms - and should I wish I could try it out in the hotel's own sound studios. Mock Monceau pearls are draped over a carved wooden hand as if Coco Chanel were about to put them on. Coco had her own suite at the Ritz and if I could choose my own Parisian pad, this would be it.
 
le royal monceau suite
le royal monceau suite
entrance
bathroom
la cuisine
spa my blend by clarins
le bar long
 
That the suite is fitted out with the latest, highest tech is a given and TV screens are elegantly hidden behind oversized framed glass. I play Skyfall on one of the giant screens because 007 seems the perfect companion to share all this indulgent, hard-edged glamour - Daniel Craig in a tux, cuffs white, Beretta primed, reflected endlessly in mirrored walls*.
A rainy Paris afternoon is an excuse not to leave the confines of the hotel. A Prive-only lift descends directly to the snowy-white spa. The spa has billowing diaphanous curtains and the longest hotel pool in Paris; dappled with soft natural light from the skylight overhead. My Blend by Clarins soothes skin, expert masseurs soothe nerves. I feel transformed. I must have morphed into Inès de La Fressange at the very least. Channeling Inès I float back upstairs to get ready for the evening.
My mirrored bathroom is a narcissist's dream come true, I am reflected from all angles (feeling less like Inès now...). My vast dressing room, with more mirrors, clearly deserves expensive dresses and the lure of Le Royal Eclaireur boutique downstairs might soon solve that problem.

In the meantime attired in a suitable LBD I head to the Long bar. If you are looking for classic charm, stay at Le Bristol (a Parisian hotel we also love). Le Royal Monceau is all about conspicuous consumption, nobody hides their designer labels here. The hotel is extravagant, fabulous and...fun. In honour of its joie de vivre my girlfriends and I perch on stools at the illuminated bench, drinking lychee martinis; every sip a movie moment. The food is theatrical too. We vote the tuna and fois gras the best tapas of our trip.
Dinner-wise, Executive Chef Laurent André's La Cuisine has one Michelin star, and glass cupboards full of plates decorated by the rich and infamous (Including Starck's daughter Anja). The shell-covered Italian grotto that is Il Carpaccio also has the one Michelin-star, making it the only one-starred Italian restaurant in Paris. Every meal here has pizzazz, even breakfast. Who could go past the hotel's signature Pierre Hermes croissants? No surprise that the croissants should come care of the man Vogue once called 'The Picasso of pastry'.
After dinner I walk past the expensive, members-only Viñales Cigar Club .Amongst the swirls of smoke, filtered by private humidors, the world's movers and shakers are leaning back in red leather chairs indulging in a Havanas, Montecristos and decent aged malt.
The hotel even has its own private 99-seat Katara movie theatre (state-of-the-art 3D facilities, naturally) with a star studded ceiling and cream leather seats. With typical Monceau flair Just one seat in the cinema is red - dare you sit in it?

If they had to makeover Versailles for the 21st century it would look like this

Art touches are everywhere from the painted ceilings to the quirky object d'art in boxes in the bar. The hotel has an impressive art book store, Librairie des Arts, and its own Art Concierge to help you experience the wealth of art that Paris has to offer. It also has its own gallery, currently showing Richard Orlinski's work.
A work of art of the automobile kind, the Jaguar XJ - 'the most beautiful car in Jaguar's history' - is the perfect luxury car of choice for this hotel. The packages on offer are also suitably indulgent. For example, from now until September there is a private-jet getaway to St Tropez and the French Riviera on offer which combines three nights at Le Royal Monceau with a day trip to San Tropez to top up the tan, helicopter transfers from the airport optional (the package costs from 10,940 Euros for 2, so hang the expense, we'll add in the helicopter too...). Repeat after me, "conspicuous consumption".

Staying at Le Royal Monceau is the most fun I've had in Paris since my garret-in-Montmartre days. I love the city, but it can take itself a tad seriously. Le Royal Monceau manages to be both elegant and extravagant, (not an easy combination) with a good dose of wit thrown in.
And what do all those chic Parisian women in understated navy think of Le Royal Monceau's makeover? Are they staying away from the designer pleasure palace? Mas non, not at all. Au contraire. They are stepping in for a lychee martini and looking for Daniel Craig.
 
Check in: Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris, 37 av. Hoche, Paris
Ultimate Luxury: The penthouse in the main hotel or any apartment in the Prive section
Most Indulgent Moment: A private lift down from the Prive apartments direct to the all-white My Blend by Clarins Spa
Insider Secrets: The observant will note the references to Jean Cocteau in the reproductions of his writings by the bed and in his profile embroidered on pillows.
The Little Things: Art is everywhere. Check out the hotel art blog www.artforbreakfast.com/
Junior Luxies: A new and innovative children's programme with a dedicated Kids Relations Manager, the chic Maria de la Chica, has recently been launched.
Dress code: Glam it up
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.lhw.com/, www.leroyalmonceau.com/
*Our resident Bond expert, Laurence would like it noted that in later books 007 used a Walther PPK weapon
Hilary Doling 13/8/13
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