Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Exploring France: A Stay at the Newly Renovated Hôtel Ritz Paris

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Classic fluffy bed goodness at the The Hôtel Ritz Paris

On my recent trip to Paris, I had the opportunity to stay at the Hôtel Ritz Paris for the first time. The iconic Parisian property located on the Place Vendome re-opened in 2016 after a four year renovation led by French architect Thierry W. Despont that is rumored to have cost over $400 million. Yet the property doesn’t shout “updated.” The upgrades are subtle and sublime, focused on adding more natural light to the hotel, updating the technology, and restoring it to a modern day version of Belle Époque glamour that would continue to lure today’s jet set, who care about things like speedy wifi, ample electrical outlets, indoor/outdoor dining and Black Mambo hairdryers.

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Looking up at the gorgeous main staircase at the Hôtel Ritz

While I have long been a customer (and fan) of the hotel’s Bar Hemingway (which seems strangely untouched by the renovations), this was the first time I actually spent the night at the property. I did not stay in the one of the hotel’s suites but in room 126, which was still all kinds of fancy.

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Ritzy stairs

The Ritz has an over-the-top traditional luxury vibe and excellent service. After being shown to my room, I was asked if I’d like to have someone unpack my suitcase for me. Since I like to keep it real, I passed on this service but appreciated how casually it was offered. While I’m not the traditional Ritz guest, I could not find a flaw with their service. It’s omnipresent and invisible. You are not going to spot an unattended housekeeping cart in the hallways of this hotel.

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The working desk at the Ritz

The 19th Century over-the-top traditional elegance of the Ritz is not usually the type of hotel I’d pick and I knew that before going. But it’s fun to mix it up at hotels. There was a moment around midnight at the hotel’s Ritz Bar when I realized I was the only woman in the room not wearing Chanel, unless my nail polish counts. This is not really surprising since designer Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz for decades, and the hotel has a Chanel Spa.

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An extremely comfortable chair in the corner of room 126 at the Ritz Paris

The famous guests of yore are name dropped throughout the property. There’s the previously mentioned Bar Hemingway (no longer accessible from the side entrance post-renovation) with it’s €30 cocktails and €18 mini hem burgers, and €1500 Ritz Side Car, which in 2001 was named the most expensive cocktail in the world.

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Left: a beautiful welcome amenity Right: Marie Antoinette would approve of the vomiting swan faucets

Tea is served in the gorgeous flower-filled Salon Proust. There are historic suites named after luminaries including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charlie Chaplin. I did not see any reference to Diana, Princess of Wales, who ate her last meal at the property with Dodi Fayed, son of the hotel’s current owner, Mohamed Al Fayed.

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The gorgeous Salon Proust

The hotel’s restaurant, L’Espadon, has a one Michelin star restaurant for lunch and two Michelin stars for dinner. I did not eat at either since I got sick and spent much of my time in the wonderfully fluffy bed and large marble bathroom. But I can vouch for the property’s room service. It was excellent and they honored my request for chicken soup (not on the menu) at all hours of the day. My room was blissfully quiet and my bed fluffy and comfortable. If you have to get sick while traveling abroad, the Ritz is a great place to do it.

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Flowers at reception

Breakfast was included in my room rate and it was as rich and over-the-top as one would expect. The hotel’s Place Vendome location is perfect for the fashion week and shop-til-you-drop set. I’m a woman who is more comfortable in Saint Germain than in the 1st Arrondissement, I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to stay here again. But if you have the chance, particularly on an expensive account, it’s divine.

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Left: French toast it’s native environs Right: Very rich Eggs Benedict

I will definitely return to the hotel’s Bar Hemingway, which remains of my favorite hotel bars of all time.

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Your syrup is served, Ritz style

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€30 Earl Grey martini at the Bar Hemingway 

Travelers who favor the gilded aesthetic of Emirates Airlines are the ones most likely to be comfortable at the revamped Ritz. It’s fabulous in every way.

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Ritz Paris
15 Place Vendôme 75001 Paris, France
1 800 745 8883

Rates from $1,098.10 USD

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A Stay at Le Bristol in Paris (Thanks to LHW Leaders Club Unlimited)

Cleo, the most famous resident of Le Bristol, lounging in the lobby

On my recent trip to Paris, I had the opportunity to spend a few nights at Le Bristol on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. What I knew about Le Bristol is mostly for it’s role in Midnight in Paris (it’s where Rachel McAdams’ and Owen Wilson’s characters stayed). I remembered it looked really expensive.

Curving stairs and a glamorous vintage caged elevator add to Le Bristol’s glamorous atmosphere

Left: fresh fruit and wine welcome amenity Right: the flowers on the vanity

Fortunately my husband is a Leaders Club Unlimited member of LHW hotels, and Le Bristol had award availability for a few nights. Score! So I spent a very lovely few days in room 714 of this old school luxury hotel… and it was FABULOUS.

The classic desk

Room 714 was huge by Parisian standards. The vibe at Le Bristol is old world luxury, but the property has all the requisite tech perks, including easy to use, speedy wifi (free for Leaders Club Unlimited members).

Traditional elegance in the vibe at Le Bristol

The bed was uber comfy, and the bathroom, while simple in style had the most impressive water pressure I’ve experienced in Paris. The tub was huge, well designed for soaking and filled quickly.

Left: the shower had serious power (and La Prarie amenities) Right: the separate water closet

Suddenly I had a dilemma– I did not want to leave the room to explore Paris.

Le Bristol’s bathtub worked for serious soaking

As lovely as the room is, the true star at Le Bristol is the service. It was flawless. Every request was handled exceptionally well.

The view from room 714 into the courtyard

Le Bristol Breakfast Menu

Another perk of the LHW Leaders Club Unlimited: not paying € 85 per person for breakfast (it’s an included benefit).

Poached eggs just taste better in Paris, especially when they are free

Behold: perfectly styled fruit at breakfast

Obligatory breakfast bread basket shot

The dining room at Le Bristol

While in my heart I’m a Saint-Germain girl, I’m also never going to turn down a chance to stay at Le Bristol. It’s legendary reputation is well deserved and the service is perfection.

Hôtel Le Bristol Paris

112 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré
75008 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 53 43 43 00
Fax: +33 (0)1 53 43 43 01
reservation@lebristolparis.com

Rates start at $1128 USD

Check the LHW site for special offers

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Where to Eat in Paris: L’Avant-Comptoir for Wine and Tapas

Charcuterie plate at L’Avant-Comptoir

Chef Yves Camdeborde’s casual and crowded standing room only tapas bar was one of my favorite discoveries on my recent trip to Paris. It’s cramped (try to get there as close to the noon opening time as possible) but a good time- and great meal– is had by all. This is great spot to try with friends, especially those who don’t mind giving up their personal space for a good meal.

Chin chin at L’Avant Comptoir

The Basque-inspired menu of small plates hangs from the ceiling. We headed to the back of the zinc bar to enjoy simple tapas and a few glasses of wine.  You can practically make a meal out of the bread, butter, sea salt and jars of cornichons which rest on the bar. Seriously. Do not miss the Bordier butter.

Even the bread and Bordier butter is memorable

The menu also features lots of petit sandwiches and dips, croquettes, and various specials. There is large and reasonably priced wine list to pair with the simple but tasty small plates. Service is upbeat and friendly. The whole experience was devoid of snobbery and left me smiling.

Finger food goodness: artichokes and cured ham waffles

The decor is porcine inspired, with cartoon pigs adoring everything from the wine glasses to the bathroom decor.

Left: the pig motif runs throughout Right: don’t forget to sprinkle the fleur de sel on your bread and butter

L’Avant-Comptoir is about enjoying the simple things without the fuss, making it a perfect find for foodies who like finger foods.

The hanging menu at L’Avant-Comptoir

Most plates are priced under € 10 and portions are pretty generous. For it’s simplicity and deliciousness, I preferred L’Avant-Comptoir to the highly acclaimed Le Comptoir next door.

Chef Yves Camdeborde of L’Avant-Comptoir

Address: 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon,
75006 Paris, France
Phone:+33 1 44 27 07 97
Hours: 12pm – 11pm

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Where to Eat in Paris: L’Ecailler du Bistrot for Oysters

The shellfish plate at L’Ecailler du Bistrot

Looking for a great oyster bar in Paris? Head to rue Paul Bert in the 11th. There is Bistrot Paul Bert just down the street, and the unpretentious maritime-themed L’Ecailler du Bistrot, which has combines classic French ambience with excellent seafood.

Plateau de Fruits de Mer Time Lapse at L’Ecailler Du Bistrot Paris, France

It’s all about the seafood here. While my crab and scallop allergy kept me from the shellfish platter, my friends devoured it over the course of an hour.

One of L’Ecailler du Bistrot’s maritime-themed rooms

The fresh oysters from Normandy and Brittany, cockles and various other crustaceans all received rave reviews from my friends. The sole muniere was a standout, as was the half lobster served with frite, and the linguini with clams.

The half-lobster at L’Ecailler du Bistot

The entire meal was complemented by a few bottles of reasonably priced (for Paris) wine from the menu.

The oysters are ready for their close-up

Left: the empty shells Right: oysters on the half shell

Linguini with clams

This was a meal I had absolutely no expectations about, and wound up one of my favorites of the trip. The cozy atmosphere and good service did not hurt.

The Sole Muniere (before and after)

No doubt– L’Ecailler du Bistrot is a seafood standout.

L’Ecailler du Bistrot

22 Rue Paul Bert 75011 Paris

phone +33 1 43 72 76 77

Opening hours:
Monday-Friday, noon to 14h30 and 19h30 to 23h

Closed Sundays & Mondays

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Where Foodies Shop in Paris: Eric Kayser For Baguettes

A peek inside the pastry case at Eric Kayser

French foodies (and visiting food snobs) know that you have the right to order your baguette as doughy or well done as you like you, or “bien cuit.” That’s why they head to one of artisianal baker Eric Kayser’s handful of Parisian shops for fresh bread baked baguettes.

Cases full of Eric Kayser’s artisanal baked goodness

Artisanal bakeries like Eric Kayser keep the flour on the premises and the bread is cooked there in five different ovens to varying degrees of doneness or  “bien cuit.” If you prefer your baguette a little doughy, order “pas bien cuit.”

Sandwiches served on Eric Kayser’s baguettes

Whatever you do don’t help yourself to a bottle of water from the deli case– “self-serve” does not exist here. The apple tart in puff pastry is also outstanding.

A baguette from Eric Kayser

No trip to France planned? Not a problem. Eric Kayser now has three New York City outposts.

Travel Tip: look for a name on the marquee

Eric Kayser

Several locations throughout Paris.

Including:

79 Avenue Mozart

Paris, France
+33 1 42 88 03 29
Monday-Saturday 7am-8pm

 

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