Stay the night: Hotel Le Bristol, Paris
Sunday 26 April 2009
This classic palace hotel opened its smart five-star doors in 1925. Earlier this year it unveiled a new attraction – the expansion of its plush Anne Semonin Spa, which can now be accessed directly from the property.
But guests entering the vast chandelier-filled lobby are here primarily to enjoy the sheer grandeur of the place. This is a world of white and pink marble, where gilded glass cabinets display expensive French perfumes and Cartier watches. Take the antique lift and admire the metal grillework designed by the Jewish architect Lerman who went into hiding here during the Second World War.
The atmosphere is suitably formal: at the award-winning bar, dare to drape your coat over the arm of one of its plush sofas and one of the maids, dressed in classic black and white uniforms, is sure to disappear it into the cloakroom. The atmosphere is also suitably French: take afternoon tea in the bar on a Saturday and you can enjoy a fashion show with your tisane.
There are 161 large rooms and suites decorated with antique furniture and paintings. Extravagant fabrics include velvets, taffeta, silk and chintz, with subtle pastels complementing brighter shades such as raspberry and emerald green. Crystal chandeliers and Persian carpets complete the look. All rooms have been updated with the latest technology such as Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Big bathrooms are lined with Carrera marble and supplied with products by Hermès and Anne Semonin.
The food and drink
Classic French cuisine by three-star Michelin chef Eric Fréchon is dished up with great aplomb in the oak-panelled winter restaurant from October to the end of April, and in the summer restaurant, which opens out on to the wisteria-draped garden, from May to the end of September. The signature dishes include duck foie gras cooked in a wrap with fresh oysters, duck broth and green tea followed by rock-pool red mullet served with aubergine wrapped in a courgette flower and yellow pepper and argan oil sauce. You'll pay about €220 (£195) per head for a three-course meal, without wine.
There is an indoor rooftop swimming pool designed by the naval architect Cäsar Pinnau, who built boats for Aristotle Onassis, with great views of landmark sights such as the Arc de Triomphe. The hotel is just along the road from the Palais de l'Elysée, and within walking distance of the Champs-Elysées, Grand Palais and Jardin des Tuileries.
The public spaces are fully accessible and one room is adapted for wheelchair users. Children are welcome. Pets are permitted (€50 per day).
Double rooms start at €590 per night on the current Best of Paris offer. A three-night Haute Couture break costs €3,330, including accommodation, a healthy breakfast and light lunch specially designed by Chef Fréchon, a two-hour workout session in the hotel's fitness centre with personal trainer Bruno Fuscien-Trasan, and a treatment in the new contemporary spa. Eurostar (0870 5186 186; eurostar.com) offers fares from London to Paris from £59 return.
Hotel Le Bristol, 112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris (00 33 1 53 43 43 00; lebristolparis.com).
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