Paris’s hotel scene is bursting at the seams with everything from boutique lushness, to the grand dames of the city. It’s a tough job to make a big splash when opening a new hotel here – but the Mandarin Oriental Paris, which I visited on it's one year anniversary, has done just that. No gimmicks, no crazy artwork, just quietly stellar Asian-style service. Beautiful butterfly motifs floating everywhere from cushions to furnishings, and stunning pink hydrangeas and other floral arrangements are artfully displayed.
The cool lobby was as calming as its superb reception staff and concierge when we arrived after a ten-minute taxi from the Gare du Nord’s Eurostar arrival point. After a speedy check in we were whisked up to our fifth-floor spa suite. A huge bed dominated (with an amazingly cosy duvet), surrounded by a purple velvet chair, long cream velvet sofa, pink and purple cushions, desk and huge TV that swung out towards the bed at the press of a button (and which was well used during our Olympic-time stay). A huge dressing room led to a white bathroom and deep bath, with a TV at the end of it – because.. well, why not?!
We didn’t linger in the room too long, though: the hotel is on Rue de St Honor, surrounded by some of Paris’s poshest shops, from Balenciaga to Paule Ka. The landmarks of Paris are all nearby, including the Louvre, and Garnier Opera, and the Jarden des Tulleries make a lovely local stroll.
After a busy day’s sightseeing nothing could have beaten our trip to the Mandarin’s stunning spa. It’s one of the biggest in the city, and studded with fluttering decorative butterflies again. There’s a 14m pool but our favourite bit was housed beyond that, with the spa suites. No simple treatment room here- each has a dressing area, personal shower and loo. There’s an abundance of towelling and a personal toiletry bag filled with everything you’d ever need and more – including a toothbrush and floss. The Oriental Essence facial was bliss. Almost two hours followed of masks, foot, hand and shoulder massage, and the odd extraction (but even that didn’t rouse me from my semi-comatose state of bliss). The only blight was some banging noise from nearby building works, which my therapist seemed more upset about than I was.
Later on, dinner was at the Camelia, a French restaurant stretching from calm cream interiors indoors through to the Mandarin’s central courtyard garden, and a gorgeous bird-cage style gazebo. My starter stood out the most- an intriguing mixture of raw and cooked vegetables and edible flowers on a thin pastry. The following beef was great – although I disappointed the French by going for medium-well done, of course – and the dessert patisseries were all astonishingly good. So good, in fact, that I couldn’t stay away from the brioche and other sugary goodies at breakfast, either. The highlight of this hotel stay? Impossible to pull one out. The low point is easy, though: that moment when we had to check out of this place of bliss and go back to real life.