If you and your family have ever dreamed of enjoying the ultimate Paris hotel – you must, must, must consider the Shangri-La in Paris. My Mom — who is 100 years young — and my sister Christine and I, recently had breakfast and the vegan tea here (more on that later) and I’m here to tell you that everything about this exquisite hotel is a delight.
The Shangri-La hotel in Paris is the former residence of French prince Roland Bonaparte (the grand-nephew of French Emperor Napoleon). The palatial property features a Louis XIV façade and an interior resembling Versailles. It’s nestled in the refined, residential 6th arrondissement, just a short walk from the famed Champs-Elysees and a wealth of museums. The hotel will enchant you with its we-will-wow-you world of marble (and more marble), silk, crystal, Murano glass, gold accents, oil portraits in gilded frames, and bouquets of fresh flowers. With such opulence everywhere, it’s no surprise that at least three times a week, sophisticated boyfriends bring their girlfriends to the hotel, for the singlehanded purpose of proposing marriage in such a magical and magnificent setting– typically with a rose-petal turndown service in the guest rooms and special heart-shaped pastries.
Book a suite here with outdoor terrace – where you can practically reach out and touch the Eiffel Tower. Fully equipped with every modern luxury known to man – including a TV screen inset into the bathroom mirror — you’ll find a desk filled with business necessities and (thankfully!) a European converter, and its signature Bvlgari White Tea amenities. This hotel will fulfill your headiest dreams when traveling first-class.
Here, you are ensured a flawless stay, based on the luxury brand’s core Asian principles of Humility, Respect, Courteousness, Generosity and Sincerity.
The hotel offers 100 rooms including 37 suites. It is an architectural treasure dating back to 1896, and is now a registered historic monument. One of the grandest suites, the Chaillot (10,000 Euro per night) resembles a posh apartment more than a hotel room. Then there’s the Suite Shangri-La on the seventh floor, featuring a huge balcony with stunning views from Montmartre to Trocadero.
There are many factors in the Shangri-La Paris’ claim to fame, but in my humble opinion, it’s the unbelievable 58 Euro breakfast that always leaves my jaw dropping with awe and delight. First, you’re seated in La Bauhinia, so named for the iconic flower that graces the Hong Kong flag. (Part of the orchid family, the five-petalled flower is also a reference to Prince Roland Bonaparte’s passion for botany illustrated by his herbarium, which included more than 2.5 million specimens.) A stunningly beautiful restaurant, La Bauhinia features an Eiffel-inspired steel-and-glass cupola that lets in natural light. It still amazes me that as much as this hotel is impressive, it’s just as unpretentious – the staff is more than friendly and professional, and always eager to please and meet every request. (Their smiles are as big as France itself). Everyone needs to dine for breakfast at La Bauhinia at least once in their lifetime. It starts with an amuse bouche (when was the last time you had one of those for breakfast?); ours was a bircher muesli made with cream and featuring a berry topping. In a word, scrumptious. I ordered dry-scrambled eggs (no oil or butter, as I was saving my calories for a chocolate croissant), and of course, our menu included a basket of pastries, and fresh-made ginger and carrot juice. All are divine. What really takes the cake is the “crown” of berries – I never before in my life have seen strawberries, raspberries and blueberries sculpted in such a special manner – and the Ciflorette strawberries were like eating perfume. Maitre’ d Julian also recommended that we try the pain perdu – French toast, and it was amazing. Light, fluffy, delicious, this mix of mere milk, egg, butter and stale bread was so yummy, to add maple syrup would be superfluous.
The hotel also features a gourmet wellness breakfast called B-Green. This delicious specialty breakfast (68 Euro) is without gluten or lactose. It starts with cold-pressed green juice of cucumber, green apples, lemon and peppermint, followed by organic chestnut, quinoa or buckwheat crispbread. Other goodies include superfood jams (such as black bean with carob), buckwheat muesli with macadamia nuts, and an avocado and crispy vegetable carpaccio.
The 100% Vegan Afternoon Tea created by Pastry Chef Michaël Bartocetti is yet another guilty pleasure. With pastries, as with other forms of cuisine, “The product is everything, and Chef Bartocetti draws inspiration mainly from seasonal products. In the recipes, he uses vegetable proteins – subtler, easier to digest and less allergenic – and non-refined sugars, in particular, such as coconut flower, and maple syrup. As a result, the Chefs’ pastries are light and have greater personality. There is no lactose whatsoever, less cholesterol (saturated fats, such as cooked butter), but instead, virgin coconut oil, pureed almonds, a wide range of cereals (buckwheat, sunflower seeds, Khorasan wheat, oleaginous products (walnuts, flaxseed) and homemade vegetable milks (almond, soy) all of which are easily assimilated. The hotel’s research and trials lasted close to three months before it developed a varied menu of some ten pastries. Alternating between the simplicity of a tart or shortcrust pastry and the sophistication of great classics, such as Mont-Blanc and Calisson – and not forgetting the essential British tradition of scones and shortbreads – these pastries will make even the greatest gourmets melt with pleasure. The tab is 80 Euro for two people.
And if its health you’re after, let yourself be inspired by the hotel’s magnificent CHI, The Spa, which partnered with The Organic Pharmacy, a well-being brand from England. The spa is an oasis of relaxation and harmony in the heart of Paris, with a refined ambiance that is a combination of subtle Asian calm and French elegance. The 15-meter-long pool is a haven of health, and bathed in natural light.
I can’t wait to return to such an opulent atmosphere, as does my 100-year-old mother, who, upon leaving the hotel, remarked to me, “Next time we’re in Paris, we’re staying here and nowhere else.”