Just Back: Paris

Paris and Eiffel Tower
Photo by AlxeyPnferov//Getty
Touring Musee D’Orsay with friends. David Rubin is second from the right; his partner, Michael Berman, is second from the left.
Touring Musee D’Orsay with friends. David Rubin is second from the right; his partner, Michael Berman, is second from the left.

On the Left Bank, in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement is a small gem, Hotel Esprit Saint Germain. It is owner-operated by Laurence Tafanel. She and her team are warm, helpful and spot on with every detail. The location is perfect. It is just up the street from the church of Saint-Sulpice. Although the rooms are not large, they are well designed — I love it.

Hotel Esprit Saint Germain has a Penthouse Suite with a private terrace.
Hotel Esprit Saint Germain has a Penthouse Suite with a private terrace.

Hotel Esprit Saint Germain feels like a Parisian private home. Upon entering, to the left is the living room / lobby, which has a roaring fireplace, wonderful mid-century modern lounge chairs and contemporary furnishings that are minimal and elegant. To the right is the drawing room; much like a beautifully finished library with stitched leather cabinetry and Art Deco occasional chairs and chic leopard print carpet. An amazing complimentary full bar (including nice champagne), coffee and tea service and snacks are set up in this room throughout the day and evening. This is a huge perk, we held business meetings and social gatherings here that lingered for hours.

A great alternative to the venerable and beloved Four Seasons Hotel George V is its next door neighbor, the newly restored Prince de Galles Paris, a Starwood Luxury Collection historic property. Don’t let your clients miss dining at the hotel’s Michelin restaurant, La Scène, where we spotted Richard Branson dining, too. 

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The remodel of the hotel embraces its history, the era of 1920s’ French Modernism. The lobby is grand and spacious with polished ebony furniture, leather club chairs and Ruhlmann-worthy ironwork.

Guests can relax in the Prince de Galles’ open-air courtyard in the center of the hotel with lovely flora and foliage, contemporary woven wicker lounge seating and fire pits. The hotel’s exterior walls have touches of amazing original mosaic tilework from the ’20s. The rooms are done in cool palettes of blue-green, ivory with accents of ebony and black lacquer. Every detail was designed with form, function and aesthetics in mind.

Michael and David enjoying the afternoon at Versailles.
Michael and David enjoying the afternoon at Versailles.

For the bull’s-eye center of Paris with great value, consider The Westin Paris - Vendôme facing the Jardin des Tuileries and a few doors down from Le Meurice in the 1st. I like the grand style of the public spaces and the spacious rooms with contemporary furnishings. My top pick rooms face the Tuileries Gardens with the city all around. It is a large hotel that is popular with high-quality group business and an often overlooked option for clients who do not want to pay for the “Palace” hotels, yet seek grand spaces, quality and being in the 1st arrondissement.

The new “wow” hotel in Paris is The Peninsula. It oozes luxury and restrained opulence. Every detail of the rooms, suites, spa / fitness / pool and public spaces are sophisticated, elegant and refined. Even if not staying here, don’t miss their roof venues, The Kléber Bar, The Kléber Terrace, The Kléber Lounge and L’Oiseau Blanc Restaurant located on the sixth floor serving up stunning 360-degree views over Paris’ most iconic monuments, including the Eiffel Tower. Since opening in August 2014, even among discerning Parisians, The Peninsula Paris is very popular for its F&B venues. For haute cuisine Cantonese food a must is their exquisite Chinese restaurant called Lili. The hotel is on Avenue Kléber in the 16th arrondissement and first opened as the Hotel Majestic in 1908.

A real treat was our one-night stay at the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower in the 16th. The interiors are traditional, rich and elegant with a touch of Asia in the artwork and the exceptional service. It is important for advisors to note that many rooms and suites have wonderful Eiffel Tower views, but none of the public spaces have views. Our dining experiences at the Shangri-La were very memorable from the perfect breakfast to the best room service we have had in years. 

Paris certainly knows how to “do” luxury hotels. Another gem is the Philippe Stark-designed Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris in the 6th near ParcMonceau and the Arc de Triomphe. The design and vibrant feel are rich, playful, decadent and modern while celebrating the grand architecture. Moreover, they “got everything right” with the service and attention to detail, including a “not-to-be-missed” buffet breakfast with a juice bar and the great gluten-free options.

Our favorite macarons in Paris are made by Pierre Hermé, the man that Vogue called “the Picasso of Pastry.” I recommend you sample many of the Pierre Hermé creations, including pastries, macarons, chocolates, ice creams and sorbets. 

In closing, clients love wandering and mingling in the lively Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of the 6th, part of The Latin Quarter. Spending some time in the Jardin du Luxembourg is always a pleasure, too. The Saint Germain neighborhood exudes the many charms of daily city life for affluent Parisians. A new find in this neighborhood for a stylish and curatedeye glass frame selection is HervéDomar Paris. This may help clients see Paris through stylish frames! J’aime Paris!

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