Our most vivid memory of La Réserve Hotel and Spa in Paris is waking up in our Deluxe Suite (No. 102), looking out the window and seeing the dapperly dressed doorman raking the white gravel in front of the hotel to ensure it looked just right, and he was smiling. That smile defined for us how La Réserve, under the direction of CEO Didier Le Calvez delivers its style of luxury service, in detail and happily.
The hotel is located at 42 Avenue Gabriel, which puts it just a few short blocks from the busy Champs-Élysées. However, it’s set back behind the Élysées gardens, which makes it a discreet location, still close to the Grand Palais, the Pantheon and the Concorde obelisk. From our suite on the first floor, we could see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night through the treetops. We loved walking the area, which is close to the Élysée Palace, the official residence of the President of France, some very chic shopping and what we would call “the” art scene in Paris. Top name galleries abound just steps away, making the hotel a mecca for aficionados of fine art.
“Most of the art galleries nearby the hotel are located on Avenue Matignon; my favorites are Hopkins, Shchukin and Christie’s,” says Marie-France Grégoire, the head concierge.
Her other suggestions? For a meal, there’s none other than Le Gabriel, the two-Michelin star restaurant directed by Jerome Banctel, housed in La Réserve. Otherwise, Grégoire suggests Aux Près, the modern bistro of Cyril Lignac on the left bank and Chez Georges (1 rue du Mail) “for any authentic, traditional French cuisine.”
“For a drink outside, I suggest the Manko bar under the Champs-Élysées theater [Théâtre des Champs-Élysées],” says Grégoire. “If clients prefer to stay at the hotel, our chef barman, Gregory is always delighted to share with them his new creations or prepare tailor-made cocktails.”
Grégoire is also a master at arranging the special moment. She and her team can arrange a Champagne toast on the roof of the Grand Palais that is not open to the public, or a visit to a local perfumer to create a custom scent. Then there’s the option of stopping in at a couture fashion house to coordinate a dress or a tuxedo for a night at the opera.
Le Spa uses the exclusive Nescens-Swiss product line in its anti-aging treatments
Back to our room with that fabulous view. Suite 102 has a living room and bedroom, a large Carrara marble bathroom with a deep-soaking tub and double sinks, a dressing room replete with plenty of closet space (hand weights and Pilates stretch bands are tucked away if you’d like to work out), and a guest bathroom.
La Réserve is a 19th-century mansion built during the Haussmann era, which means the ceilings are high in every room. Once owned by Pierre Cardin, the historical building has been a hotel for just two-and-a-half years and all of its internal infrastructure is state of the art, from Wi-Fi to TVs to the Japanese Toto “smart” toilet in the guest bathroom.
Nice Touch: Our “minibar,” included in the room rate, was a constant source of delight, not for its alcoholic beverages but for its exquisite natural juices in flavors that included strawberry and mango, as well as all sorts of Evian water with natural flavoring, not easily found in the United States.
We also loved that guest relations asked ahead of time what some of our special interests were; we replied, “fashion illustration,” and in our suite were thoughtfully provided tomes on the history of couture; all the better to snuggle up with for a great read in the super comfortable beds.
Top accommodations at La Réserve are found in the Grand Palais Suite. Here, the Eiffel Tower and the glass roof of the neighboring Grand Palais can be seen from nearly every angle of the suite, which has 14 floor-to-ceiling windows leading to balconies. The views are also fab from the free-standing bathtub in the Carrara marble bathroom. Nice Touch: There’s an original fireplace in the suite, which is decorated with Napoleon III antiques.
Dining is a special occasion at La Réserve, even at breakfast, where the chic design at La Pagode de Cos includes red velvet banquettes, fireplaces and extremely hands-on attention. Lunch is served here as well and pulls in executives from government offices and sophisticated locals. Menu offerings range from items like Scampi Ravioles, Chinese Broth and Coriandre to La Réserve burger.
Next door, Le Gabriel, helmed by Chef Jérôme Banctel (who also oversees La Pagode de Cos), is one of only 10 restaurants in France, and five in Paris, to receive two Michelin stars and yet we found the high level of service to be easy going and accessible. Two top of the line tasting menus are available but we opted to go à la carte and chose the delicious “Macau artichoke heart with sakura leaves and fresh coriander” to start and the ‘Glazed line-caught turbot, spring rea caviar with coussinets” for our main dish. All told, it was a completely bon vivant experience without any of the stiffness or stuffiness that can sometimes accompany dining opportunities of this stature.
Restaurant Le Gabriel has two Michelin stars and is a “must” dining experience
When it’s time for drinks: Le Bar is abuzz all day, and well into the evening. What we loved: Michel Reybier’s wines are served throughout the hotel; Reybier, who has three vineyard estates, established the portfolio of La Réserve Hotels, which, in addition to Paris, include La Réserve Genève, La Réserve Ramatuelle, La Chartreuse de Cos d’Estournel. Reybier’s holding also includes the Victoria-Jungfrau Collection of hotels in Switzerland and Seiler Hotels.
Downstairs at La Réserve is an intimate spa with just three rooms, a fitness area and a beautiful swimming pool, reserved just for guests over 14 years old. The vibe here is serenely surreal; you definitely don’t feel like you’re in an urban setting in the slightest. We loved the Nescens-Swiss anti-aging products, which are not used elsewhere in Paris. A popular treatment here is the Swedish massage; be sure to request Daniel, an intuitive therapist who remedied several of our aches and pains born of traipsing around the rugged terrain of New York City on a daily basis. The best contact for the spa is Isabelle Gobbo ([email protected]).
The top takeaway from our visit to La Réserve was that this is an urban resort; its ground-floor public areas have a great footprint where every room is distinctly elegant, yet nothing is too far away from anything else. Under the domain of Didier Le Calvez, a master at running the five star hotels (think Le Bristol and the George V Four Seasons), the vibe here is high-end, easy and wonderfully embracing in the most distinguished manner. If not for the lure of the many attractions of Paris virtually at its doorstep, it would be tempting to never leave at all.
Luxury travel advisors can use Mathilde Rizza ([email protected]), as their main contact if booking an A-lister or VIP client.