Destination: France: Paris
The location of the Shangri-La, opened in December 2010, is the hotel’s biggest pro and con at the same time. The property sits on the Right Bank in the 16th arrondissement near touristy Trocadéro, a taxi ride removed from the haute shopping of Rue St. Honoré or centrally located museums like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. That said, the Shangri-La also has the best views of the Eiffel Tower of any hotel in the city. During my visit, I was wowed by the proximity to the famous monument, which, especially at night, appeared close enough to touch from my room.
The Shangri-La Paris marks the Hong Kong–based hotel group’s debut in Europe, and the building that the property occupies is appropriately grand and historic. The beautifully restored, 19th-century palace was originally built by a descendent of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1896, and a series of stunning Belle Époque salons have been painstakingly restored on the ground floor. (Post four-year renovation, the building was registered as one of France’s historic monuments.) The lobby showcases five different kinds of marble, a vaulted ceiling with stucco flourishes, and gilded embellishment, but the intimate layout and friendly staff help create the ambience of an elegant private home.
Pierre-Yves Rochon, the busy French designer who has recently revamped such venerable properties as the South of France’s Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat and Vienna’s Sacher, successfully created a blend of understated elegance here, which reflects not only the palace’s Imperial Parisian beginnings but also its current owner’s Asian sensibility. Polished lacquer and delicate standing screens seamlessly share the space with restored parquet floors and gilt-framed paintings. The 81 guest rooms and suites are as elegant as the public spaces, with either a blue, beige and gold color palette (très Napoléon), comfortable furnishings, reproduction antique wallpaper and gorgeous fabrics (including one by Rubelli). Bathrooms are large, with separate shower and soaking tub, and Bulgari White Tea amenities. The best accommodations, of course, come with those coveted city views, which include the Eiffel Tower, Nôtre Dame, the Grand Palais and, from higher floors, the Seine in all its winding glory.
Not only do the guest rooms have these amazing vistas, but so does the Cantonese Michelin-starred restaurant Shang Place and spa opening soon (until then, guests may arrange in-room treatments). The Shangri-La bar, overseen by Christophe Léger, formerly of the Ritz’s Hemingway Bar, is a gorgeous space for a pre-dinner cocktail, even though having a glass of Champagne in your room while watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night may well be the best new place for an aperitif in town. Overall, the hotel is a grand and impressive European debut for Shangri-La. Rooms from €750 (about $1,000).
WHO SHOULD STAY: Paris lovers who will enjoy the view and staying in a hotel a bit removed from the bustle.
WHO SHOULD NOT STAY: Visitors who want to be based in the center of the city will be happier at the Meurice or on the Left Bank.
WHAT’S NEARBY: The Musée d’Art Moderne, Musee Guimet, and contemporary art trove Palais du Tokyo, pastry shops Patisserie des Rêves and Pierre Hermé, Avenue Montaigne and its luxury shops are about a 10-minute walk away.
INDAGARE TIP: Excellent fine-dining restaurant L’Abeille headed by Philipe Labbé, is a must for serious foodies and has been acclaimed by critics since it opened. Even if you’re not staying here, come for dinner.
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