Embrace the Renaissance in Venice, the city of more than 100 islands and no roads
Our travel concierge fixer opens up his reassuringly luxurious little black book on a magical trip to Paris
Where to stay?
Le Meurice 228 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Once upon a time, in 1818, Louis-Augustin Meurice, a clever postmaster’s son, built a coaching inn for wealthy British travellers who would travel via the Straits of Dover and on to chic Paris. Fast forward almost 200 years and Le Meurice remains reassuringly Parisian; the hotel is everything one might wish for in a grand palais. Immaculate classical accommodation has been reinterpreted by acclaimed designer Charles Jouffre; think pared-back shades of cream, yellow and blue, impressive proportions and an abundance of natural light. Pop in at the moody Bar 228 and order a King Alfonso while munching on the finest club sandwiches in Paris. What more could one desire?
The hotel’s prominent south-facing position on Rue de Rivoli looks across the splendid Jardin des Tuileries and the light-filled Le Dalí brasserie, with clever interior direction from the renowned Philippe Starck, provides a splendid spot to enjoy a delicate French patisserie or two. With just 160 suites and rooms — all generous in size and featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and state-of-the-art technology — the hotel somehow shares a boutique energy often lost in such grand surroundings. A glimpse at the hotel’s newly revamped Pompadour suite left us gawping. This place has some serious cool factor.
Decorated in the extravagant Louis XVI style and featuring interior styling in the public spaces and restaurants from the renowned Philippe Starck, each of the hotel’s seven floors has its own distinct theme. Exquisite Italian marble bathrooms, period furniture and beds adorned with the finest linens are among the many finer details that make Le Meurice one of the best hotels in Paris. Salvador Dalí regularly graced the hotel with his presence, something that is honoured through one of the top restaurants in the hotel, the delightful Restaurant Le Dalí.
Where to eat
Located high up in the clouds atop the ultra ‘contemporaine’ Peninsula Paris hotel, with jaw-droppingly beautiful views of Le Tour Eiffel and Montmartre, this slick hotspot focuses on traditional French techniques, homegrown products and a new menu weekly, inspired by the changing seasons. We tucked in to ravioles stuffed with chard, foie gras and celery risotto with mature compté cheese, and delightfully creamy Port-en-Bessin scallops accompanied by a thin carpaccio with candied kumquat and fried ginger. Tempted? Just wait until you step out on to the expansive roof terrace, a sort of trendy hub, complete with swathes of rosemary and lavender, lounge seating and a very spectacular, elevated private dining space for two.
A visit to Paris would not be complete without dining at this insanely creative spot. Sumptuous but simple interiors and gilded columns awaited as we found ourselves devouring uber-fresh king crab eggs with ginger and lemon, and some of the best mussels we’ve encountered. It is overseen by superstar chef Eric Frechon, who is well-versed in gastronomic creativity — just next door, his three much-deserved Michelin stars are showcased in surely one of the most glorious dining rooms in the world, at Epicure.
Rivié at The Hoxton Paris
Step inside this brand new hotel and be prepared for a serious haute-design explosion. Think Soho House meets Amsterdam’s The Conservatorium. An elegant 18th century townhouse has been gelled with great swathes of iron-rimmed glass, creating numerous triple-height, light-filled indoor and outdoor terraces. Rivié, the hotel’s chic brasserie, presents a short but concise menu which focuses on Mediterranean delights such as tomato tartare, Hoxton cheese burger and linguine puttanesca. Whatever you do, don’t leave without sampling the magical mousse au chocolat — a wondrous reinvention using coffee beans, cocoa nibs and dried raspberry.
Where to stay
Le Bristol 112 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, France
Somehow this place just sprinkles a sort of magic dust. It could have something to do with the address on Rue du Faubourg, or the effortless way the team welcome every guest as though they are old friends. Classically appointed accommodation is sparsely filled with Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture — we loved the natural light which filled our junior suite and expansive garden views.
Dedicate a whole afternoon to some personal time at Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie with its pleasant light-filled spaces and eight elegant treatment rooms. The warmed beds and heated towels, together with cooling juices of various exotic concoctions in the elegant garden, simply add to the laidback luxury. Later on, we managed to gate crash a lively convention in the Salon Versailles, a gorgeous private space, and met some of America’s finest wedding planners before chasing Fa-Raon, the hotel’s resident Burmese cat, around the ornate internal gardens, slumping into our ginormous king bed by midnight. We could have slept for days — pure bliss.
Where to drink
Not technically a drinking den, but an elegant and lively venue nonetheless, Le Roch Hotel & Spa launched last year on a sleepy street in the 1st Arrondisement. With a strong design aesthetic created by acclaimed French designer Sarah Lavoine, we recommend working your way through the endless drinks list while trying each of the numerous terrace spaces, indoor and out.
Le Bar at Le Bristol
A very special visit to Le Bar permitted some serious hobnobbing with the cool international crowd who were in town for the annual FIAC art fair, quaffing Lady Marmalades and copious amounts of perfectly chilled bubbly. Located at the heart of the hotel, and affording the quirky ambiance of a private gentleman’s club, it somehow manages to tick all the boxes. But it is after 10pm when the frivolity begins.
The magnificent bar at newly refurbished Hôtel de Crillon is a melting pot of well-heeled locals, hotel guests and some exceedingly haute fashion types, not to mention a spatter of art lovers. With its intricate ceiling awarded listed landmark status and acres of elegant windows, the attentive bar team delight with a spectacular and effortless display of
their mixing prowess. Champagne lovers, beware — a meticulous list has been compiled, spanning centuries.
Where to stay
Hôtel de Crillon 10 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris, France
If Le Bristol and Le Meurice are the “grand dames” queens, then Hôtel de Crillon is the king. An extraordinary mélange of 18th and 19th century architectural innovation, the moody godfather — extravagant, elegant and unique — recently refurbished and now in the expert hands of luxury group Rosewood, occupies an extraordinary position, southerly facing, on the Place de la Concorde. The guest relations dream team have perfected a seamless check-in but it is the most pleasant of whiffs that greet you when you arrive — that of Buly 1803’s intensely delicious scented candles — that lingers on the mind.
With a history of residents as illustrious as it’s design (the Count de Crillon and his family once called it home), the property was transformed into a hotel in 1909 and now boasts 124 lavishly appointed guestrooms and suites. I’d plump for the sumptuous Suite Duc de Crillon, a sort of fantasy den — if Queen Victoria and King Louis XIV had a love child, he would live here. Double-height ceilings, original woodwork with gold detailing and views to a quiet cobbled street, the handsome suite is equipped with a Bluetooth sound system and crisp Porthault bed linen. Chef Christopher Hache has created a French fine dining menu at L’Ecrin, where he injects his precision and culinary knowledge, garnered over many years of travel. Sense, the hotel’s spa, and a decent swimming pool (a rarity in Paris) occupy a bright and spacious basement.
Where to explore
Le Grand Musée du Parfum
A short stroll from Le Bristol along the gallery-lined boulevard Rue du Foubourg Saint-Honoré, a pit stop at an immaculate 19th century mansion ignites a dormant interest in ‘parfum’ within us. Founded on the one principle to enjoy a lighthearted journey through the history and science of perfume and scent making, together with brilliant video and graphic content, we learn how France remains the leader in perfume. From the Ancient Egyptians, via the Industrial Revolution, to present day and beyond, sniff your way through a remarkably well-curated collection.
Retro city tour
A whistle-stop city tour squeezed in the back of a charming and surprisingly comfortable 1983 Citroen 2CV saw us hurtling around the cobbled streets of St Germain des Prés and Le Marais in an attempt to scratch beneath the city’s cultural surface. An obligatory glass or two of Michel Reybier Champage, courtesy of our new best friend Nathaniel at La Réserve Paris, by the Seine is treasured as one of the simplest yet most memorable experiences of the year.
The Grand Palais
This extraordinary glass-domed historic palace, located on the picturesque Champs-Elysées, works closely with the Ministry of National Education to promote art and education to an eclectic audience of all ages. Showcasing beautifully presented collections of work from American fashion photographer Irving Penn to French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin, the Palais remains at the very fore of creative and cultural trends.
Timmy Coles-Liddle is the founder of NINE, a private concierge club providing tailored travel and lifestyle solutions to families and individuals globally.
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