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Insider’s Paris

June 9, 2010 By: Mary Winston Nicklin Luxury Travel Advisor
 


 

Paris
Photo by Vladimir

 

 

Commanding a prime location in the chic 16th arrondissement, La Réserve Paris attracts in-the-know jetsetters to an unmarked door off the Place du Trocadéro. Inside, a private realm of 10 residential apartments serve up an exclusive guest experience bordering on the sublime. Within a stone’s throw of the Eiffel Tower, your clients can play house on the Trocadéro while reaping the benefits of hotel-style services, including a 24-hour concierge team which can handle any manner of request—from the simple cigarette runs and airport pickups to hiring language teachers, locating the perfect babysitter and arranging a 27-night gastronomic journey to all the hottest tables in town.

We checked out Apartment 1, the only one with a private entrance. Talk about luxury of space! At 3,230 square feet, this is the largest of La Réserve’s 10 apartments. It’s often booked for press junkets, films and product launches. Sleek, contemporary interiors by Rémi Tessier create a home-away-from-home feel. Before a guest’s arrival, the kitchen is stocked with staples and favorite food items. There’s also a wine fridge filled with bottles from the owner’s Bordeaux estate. Even if your clients don’t want to whip up their own feasts, they’ll appreciate the fully equipped kitchen. Every morning the housekeeper prepares a Continental breakfast, and private chefs can be arranged for the other meals. In fact, insiders tell us that one of the final contestants on the premiere season of Top Chef (France) cooked for a family at La Réserve.

What we loved about this three-bedroom spread: the private garden and sunken terrace decorated with sculptures, where guests can recline in lounge chairs in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, completely hidden from the street. We were also seduced by the technology. The flat is fully wired: flat-screen TVs beaming satellite channels in every bedroom, secured Wi-Fi, a private phone line, separate fax line and a sophisticated iPod stereo system.

Each of the bedrooms has a large dressing room and private bath. Like a luxury hotel, all bathrooms come with plush robes, slippers and delicious bath amenities. Welcome gifts are personalized for each guest. For the American design duo Kaufman and Franco—frequent guests who have staged a fashion show in the apartment during fashion week—the staff picked up chocolate shoes from a fine chocolatier.

Tips on booking: A three-night minimum stay is required, and the average stay is two-three weeks. For assistance with reservations for your VIPs, contact Director Stéphanie Billat (sbillat@lareserve.ch; 011-33-153-705-370).

Tucked away in a flowering courtyard, Hotel Pavillon de la Reine is the only luxury hotel of its kind in the fashionable Marais quarter. Indeed, the hotel has a coveted location directly off the Place des Vosges, the oldest public square in Paris, oft described by locals as the city’s prettiest. Built by Henry IV in the early 1600s, the square is perfectly symmetrical around a central, gated green; 36 brick houses with slate roofs rise above a vaulted arcade. Strolling along the galleried walkways, rubbernecking at art galleries and boutiques, you could almost miss the courtyard entrance to the Pavillon, housed in a 17th-century hôtel particulier. The property’s discreet address in the historical heart of Paris is just one of the reasons it has cultivated a loyal following of repeat guests, ensuring its status as a cult favorite for rock stars and fashion designers.

 

The Victor Hugo suite
The Victor Hugo suite at Hotel Pavillon de la Reine is often used for photo shoots.

 

We recently stopped by this intimate pied-à-terre to check out the buzzed-about makeover by interior designer Didier Benderli, a protégé of Jacques Garcia. Since our last visit, Benderli has refashioned this Marais jewel with sumptuous textiles, updating it with a contemporary look. Over the course of the 18-month renovation, the total room count was reduced to 54 rooms, a library was added near the reception and a spa was unveiled on the lower floor where the breakfast room used to be. The Spa de la Reine by Carita is a chic space with just two treatment rooms. Instantly calming, the spa—designed in Portuguese Cascais stone—is marked by a wall of cascading water at the entrance. Using Brigitte Bardot’s favorite spa products, the Carita-branded treatments run the gamut from jet lag massages to rice milk facials. There’s also a Jacuzzi, hammam and small fitness room where private trainers are available.

The library also channels a contemporary vibe. Brushed with red, gold and dove gray, the room is backed with shelves full of books and objets d’art. At the aperitif hour, guests can sink into the plush velvet chairs and help themselves to wine or cocktails from the honesty bar. In the morning, breakfast is served here. But even after the hotel’s renovation, historical touches remain. Beneath the timbered ceiling in the reception area, splendid contemporary canvases hang on the walls, thus marrying the old and new. Similarly, some guest rooms play up the hotel’s history (canopied beds, ancient wood beams), while others are done up in a playful present-day palette. No expense was spared in the room redo; management spent as much as $156,000 per bedroom. All boast Molton Brown bath products, Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs.

 

Pavillon de la Reine’s Suite de la Reine
Pavillon de la Reine’s Suite de la Reine. The hotel has a team of Clefs d’or concierges at guests’ disposal.

 

For your VIPs, consider the magnificent Victor Hugo Suite, where Jean Paul Gaultier bunked down for a year during his house renovation. It’s a sought-after space; the bedroom’s toile-covered walls have served as the backdrop for recent photo shoots for Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. Because it has a kitchenette and can connect to another Deluxe Room, this suite is perfect for long-stay guests or families. Another favorite? The Suite de la Reine, where a giant Baudelaire text—artistically transcribed in elegant, flowing letters—hangs above the bed. Nice Perk: VIP guests are spoiled with welcome gifts: sweet treats, a red leather notebook, Carita amenities, or Esteban perfume. For clients traveling with Fido in tow, the hotel will provide a special doggie bowl and treat. For VIP bookings, contact Sales Director Karol Lor (karol.lor@pdlr.fr; 011-33-140-291-919). Need to set up special arrangements? Guests sing the praises of Concierge Jonathan Buckles, who has planned and executed perfect marriage proposals for exacting clients.

Just steps from the Jardin des Tuileries, adjacent to the Westin Hotel, the new Six Senses Spa provides a world of relaxation for tired urbanites looking to unwind. A darling of the French press since its debut, this city sanctuary is the Bangkok-based brand’s first foray into France. This is the place to indulge in a little guilt-free hedonism. Your first clue to the spa’s eco-chic philosophy? The hanging vertical garden visible from the street. Designed by famous botanist Patrick Blanc, the two-story wall of green isn’t just a symbol; it serves a utilitarian purpose as well, sucking the pollution out of the air.

 

La Réserve Paris’ Apartment No. 4
La Réserve Paris’ Apartment No. 4 has a fully equipped Varenna kitchen. The hotel has 10 apartments, each with a distinct design.

 

Descending the stairs to reception, we marveled at the spa’s design. Instead of treatment rooms, there are six “cocoons” built from oak and paper. It took local craftsmen six months to fashion these soundproofed spaces. Running the length of the spa, a projection of the Paris cityscape streams from video cameras placed on the roof. The screen—showing the choreography of cars and people in front of the Eiffel Tower—is visible from inside the cocoons. As explained by Holistic Advisor Clare West, the concept allows clients to achieve harmony and healing by remaining 100 percent grounded in their setting, viewing Paris through a lens of detachment.

 

 

ADVISOR INSIGHT:

 

Jody Bear of Bear & Bear Travel was recently stranded in Paris due to the Iceland volcano. No problem. It gave her the chance to revisit her favorite haunts. Here’s her report.

 

Hôtel Plaza Athénée wasn’t listening when someone said you can’t reinvent yourself. Nonsense. The hotel is better than ever! They truly get it on every level from service to luxury living. Case in point, here, the  housekeeping sign reads: ‘Make up my room as soon as possible.’ They’re not kidding around with their selection of home-made pastries. What to choose? The tarte au sucre, feuilleté framboise, kughelof, roulade aux fruits confits or, at this point, the boring pain au chocolat!

 

“Since I planned to be in Paris for awhile, my first stop was WHSmith, a fabulous English bookshop that makes Barnes & Noble look like a mom-and-pop shop. You can get anything here from guidebooks to the latest bestsellers to the most obscure magazines. One of my favorite guidebooks is Chic Shopping Paris by Rebecca Perry Magniant. The crème de la crème of fashionable boutiques are all categorized by arrondissement. I was hoping I would have time to cover each neighborhood, but OpenSkies got me out of Paris sooner than I wanted.

 

“I cannot leave Paris without going to Ladurée for a quick bite. This was one of the first tearooms in Paris and the interiors have remained unchanged since 1862. What has changed, however, are the Ladurée kiosks that have opened up in the Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports; now you can pick up those different flavored, homemade macaroons before you board the plane.

 

“Paris has a new museum and it is worth a visit…or two! The Musée du quai Branly houses a collection of primitive art from Africa and the exhibits are fabulous. The entire facade of the building is cloaked in living vegetation—from the sidewalk to the rooftop.

 

“Speaking of new, you must visit Merci, which is a new concept store in the Marais district. It’s a three-floor extravaganza with designer and vintage clothing, home furnishings, a used-book café and floral shop. Even better, some of the proceeds go to children’s charities. Since mostly all of the boutiques in the Marais district are open on Sundays, you’ll know where to find me!

 

“If you’re looking for something special, yet crazy, you must go to Derrière (derriere-resto.com). It opened recently and it’s the buzz of Paris. The restaurant works like a home, and you’ll be asked which room you want to dine or play in: why not watch a movie in the den, play ping-pong in the salon, relax in the upstairs bedroom, enter the secret smoker’s room or, you guessed it, visit the toilette!”

 

 

The Six Senses Spa focuses on sustainability, and the environment is echoed here at Rue de Castiglione, the brand’s smallest spa in the world. Treatments utilize organic products from Voya and Aromatherapy Associates, and guest slippers/towels are made from a revolutionary, new vegetal material called Tencel, developed by a French company. Both biodegradable and recyclable, the material allows the spa to avoid the large amounts of laundry and waste of a normal spa operation. The spa also reduces its carbon footprint by incorporating local products into its treatments. Case in point: the Paris Rooftop Honey Facial uses honey harvested by a local association of beekeepers who tend hives placed on city rooftops. This honey is also served in the spa’s signature ginger tea. On the horizon: It plans to compost materials like seaweed used in the treatments.

Tips for booking: The spa is quite popular with locals, especially on weekends, so book well in advance. West likens it to a sought-after restaurant with just six tables. Guests of the Westin can also take advantage of in-room spa treatments.

Far from the tourist crowds mobbing the Sacré Coeur Basilica, the Hotel Particulier Montmartre is hidden away in a cobblestoned passage on the hillside. The entrance is so discreet, we almost missed it. Lined with chic boutiques and cafés, this side of Montmartre resembles a village—where a few lucky residents enjoy garden terraces and epic Paris views—making guests of the Hotel Particulier privy to an insider’s experience. After buzzing a black iron gate set back from the street, we followed a pathway to a white mansion set in a verdant garden. Behind the 18th-century facade, some serious eye candy awaits. The hotel comprises just five opulent suites, each individually designed by an artist in collaboration with owners Morgane Rousseau and Frédéric Comtet. With creative flair and an eye for design, Rousseau conceptualized the project, and the hotel was opened in 2007. Walking into the lobby and spying designer chairs like Arne Jacobsen’s Egg and Mies Van der Rohe’s Barcelona, we had the feeling we were discovering the private collection of a connoisseur.

The sprawling suites, each full of character, emphasize comfort. With its tree-inspired wallpaper, the sensual Suite Végétale on the third floor conjures the sense of floating on the treetops. Accessed by a private stairway, the Deluxe Suite is the largest of the accommodations. From its perch in the attic, this loft overlooks beautiful panoramas of Paris.
Guests are encouraged to participate in the hotel’s artistry. In the Vitrine (“shop window”) Suite, for example, guests can leave a personal object in the window display, thereby contributing to the exhibit, while also creating an ambiance of “home” to be appreciated upon a return visit.

Guests can enjoy breakfast at wrought-iron tables in the garden created by Louis Bénech, one of the landscape designers who renovated the gardens at the Elysée and the Tuileries. There is no restaurant, but Sunday brunch is open to outside clientele.

 

Six Senses Rue de Castiglione
Six Senses Rue de Castiglione is the Bangkok-based brand’s first foray into France.

 


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