LUXURY HOTELS: Hotel Le Bristol, Paris, France
Style: Marie Antoinette's sleek city pad.
Scene: Just a skip down the road to borrow sucre from Sarkozy at Palais de l'Elysee or turn the corner into avenue Matignon for a stroll down avenue des Champs Elysees. Sisters! Did we mention boutiques...Yes, those ones; too close to stay away long from.
Seen in the lobby: (At time of stay) A melange of tennis wives and offspring, Roland Garros devotees (wearing trainers - what can we say?), British gents a la pocket handkerchief in jacket and Parisian chic walk-ins (locals arriving for tea, drinks and dinner).
Are we here? Things can get a little squeezy in rue du Faubourg Saint Honore as limousines and taxis jockey outside for a spot of curb to pull up in. Le Bristol
(a member of Leading Hotels of the World
) was the first hotel in Paris to be officially declared a 'Palace' and receive its plaque in May 2011, but don't expect a correspondingly grand entrance. Famed it might be, but it's more of a discreet affair - not unlike that of the Presidential palace down the road at no. 55 - where French flags and doormen in official livery announce its status.
Through the revolving gilt-edged door, the lobby is a creamy mix of marble and chandeliers, but it's in your room that you truly appreciate Le Bristol's palace status. The size and scope of the rooms and suites - none of them less than 430 feet square (40 metres square) - calmly eschew small and spare. Of late, the focal point of Paris accommodation has been the recent crop of designer boutique hotels, most of them notoriously sexy with oversize beds to match the point. But, bed aside, you try doing anything in-room that stretches much beyond hands-by-your-side. Morning yoga, best forget it.
Having acclimatised to Parisian chic petite, inside Le Bristol it is the sheer room acreage of our prestige suite, straddling Saint Honore and Matignon, that first impresses The Luxury Travel Bible. Passing through its double-door entrance and a wide-mirrored hall, the living room comprises a sitting area, study and dining area for four and is awash with cream and rose tones and fresh flowers. Through an antechamber into the crisp mint and cream bedroom, a 7 feet (2 metres) wide bed barely makes a dent in the space with enough room spare to hold an entire yoga class here. It is left to the perching of Louis XV style chairs along with another desk and sitting area to fill it. The marble double basin bathroom is similarly expansive and secretes a separate shower room and a toilette and bidet area behind doors - one frosted glass another mirrored. You won't find any larger salle de bains in Paris than at Le Bristol. And just to keep the mood for big going, should you wish, another bedroom can be added to this suite.
Woody Allen's movie Midnight in Paris
, a romantic comedy starring Owen Wilson, Michael Sheen
and Rachel McAdams
, was shot on location. Some of its more glamorous scenes were filmed at Le Bristol, including shots of the hotel's untra-luxurious Panoramic Suite, in its elegant lobby and the hotel's famous entrance. Didier Le Calvez
, General Manager of Le Bristol, said: "We were thrilled to assist Woody Allen, the cast and crew during the making of Midnight in Paris ... and are delighted that Le Bristol features alongside such a distinguished cast.
Two years ago the hotel had a facelift and a new wing to the hotel was opened in a Haussmann-style building, while the renovation of another 45 rooms and suites has been in process. At a glance, it is hard to tell where new and old begin and end because the style of each individually designed room stays seamlessly chintz elegant and trimmed with chandeliers. The hotel interiors seemingly reach their zenith of haute palace in Le Restaurant Gastronomique, an oval room of rich oak, tapestries, chandeliers and royal red velvet that spills over into a segment of Paris' largest in-hotel garden during the summer months. The auto-effect on TLTB is to perch a little straighter - even if it is only breakfast time.
A panier engorged with toast-coloured pastries in an array of handmade shapes and sizes arrives spontaneously as does a choice of papers. I reach for the croissant. It is singularly the best I've ever tasted: the pillows of air between its buttery folds are tangible to the tongue. It raises the expectations of the scrambled eggs I am contemplating in the menu. Under the management of Eric Frechon this restaurant has earned three Michelin stars. Under the wisdom of Didier Le Calvez
, the Chief Executive Officer of Le Bristol, it recently began serving breakfast as well lunch and dinner.
Having acclimatised to Parisian chic petite, inside Le Bristol it is the sheer room acreage of our prestige suite
I'm sifting through a story on the apparent psychological demise of Rafael Nadal featured in this morning's Le Figaro, but am distracted by the simple perfection of well-cooked eggs and a whimsical thought. You can stare up through any of Le Bristol's near floor-to-ceiling windows or float on your back in the pool on the sixth floor - styled like the bridge of a grand 19th century yacht - looking out through the sloping casement windows, but in this City of Lights you won't see any stars in the night sky. Instead, it is as if it is here, in the sophisticated hotels and restaurants, that you find the real stars of Paris.
After breakfast I go in search of Fa-raon, the hotel's fluffy white one year-old Sacre kitten from Burma. Fa-raon parades in the main public spaces (except restaurants) and is intended, not unlike, say, the Queen's corgis, to add to the family atmosphere of the hotel. On this day Fa-raon is proving to be an elusive icon. "Maybe he's hiding in the garden," a helpful staff member suggests.
I give up and head for an appointment in the spa. The new spa which will sprawl over three floors and have a unique in-hotel entrance separate for spa-only clients is still being built (scheduled to open in September 2011), but the style is presaged in the calm cocoon of a current spa room. Here the hotel style puts aside palace to channel the comfort of golden streamline zen. I opt for the Made-to-Measure Facial. It features a complex array of Anne Semonin products and includes a choice of hand or foot message while you wait for the masque to perform a small miracle. This, coincidently, turns out to be the most popular facial treatment on the extensive spa menu where the Made-to-Measure Massage is also on call by popular demand.
Similarly, with last year's addition of a new restaurant - 114 Faubourg - the hotel gently embraces urban contemporary. Here the restaurant interior features illustrations of oversized dahlia's on a backlit background of bright orange wall panels. Violet carpet links two levels of dining continuing down a wide spiral staircase. A wink back to 'palace' style comes with large columns painted in metallic gold and the gold filigree leaves on the staircase banister.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the food is overseen by Eric Desbordes, protégé of Eric Frechon and the starters at lunch, in particular, are standouts. In its one year of operation 114 Faubourg has already added an award of Restaurant of the Year to Le Bristol's long list of honours. The restaurant serving staff, like the rest of the hotel staff, manoeuvre with the friendly, no attitude, assuredness that comes with knowing you are part of something recognisably good. In the end it is my companion who sums up the hotel after our lunch quietly murmuring, "A lot of class".
Hotel Le Bristol Paris, 112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, 75008 Paris, France, Phone +33 1 53 43 43 00
|Ultimate Luxury: Take your pick - The Paris Suite with its uninterrupted view of the city lights and the Eiffel Tower or just go OTT in Royal Suites with over 3,200 square feet (300 square metres) of 18th century inspired luxe.
|Most Indulgent Moment: The Spa and the over-quotient of petit fours that keep arriving with each pot of Margaret's Hope Darjeeling tea had in the Bar. Tea with chocolate - new on us, and we don't mind.
|Insider Secrets: The Panoramic Suite (along with scenes in Le Bristol lobby and entrance) guest-starred in Woody Allen's latest film 'Midnight in Paris'.
|The Little Things: The hotel-made macaroons that can be packaged impromptue as a tiny birthday gift.
|Junior Luxies: A Children's Programme welcomes the wee ones with a Hippolyte (honorary hotel rabbit) soft toy in-bed and a snack. A Hippolyte-themed treasure hunt can also be had.
|Dress code: Any excuse to buy from the innumerable designer boutiques nearby could see you in anything from Hermes to Chanel. Nevertheless, if comfort is more your cool, then by all means break out the trainers, especially if it is French Open season - Le Bristol can cope. Although TLTB perhaps prefers a little Isabel Marant platform trainer.
|Dent in the platinum:
|Luxury Hotels Link:
Prue Rushton 3/7/11, updated 20/8/12
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