To be honest, I had forgotten just how exquisite Paris is. Over the past year, we received more requests than ever for this city so I felt the need to go back and experience it for myself - it had been nearly six years since my last visit. As it turned out, I fell in love all over again.
It started with an incredibly easy entry through customs at CDG, and my Queen of Clubs driver waiting for me in the arrivals hall. He quickly whisked me into my luxury sedan and took me straight to the hotel in about 30 minutes. The team at La Maison Champs Elysee warmly greeted me to their modern hotel and escorted me to my suite. I was lucky enough to stay in the white suite (no red wine allowed!) where everything from the lampshade to phone cords is covered in white fabric. This boutique hotel retains much of its historical charm, but you also feel like you are in a modern fashionista's home.
Immediately I went for lunch, and of course rose wine - aka French water. Later in the day I wandered over to the highly acclaimed Hotel Crillon, a historical property recently purchased by a Saudi royal family member and managed by Rosewood. I have to say, I've never teared up during a site visit but the beautiful details brought tears to my eyes. Every corner of this hotel is an intricate, thoughtful piece of art. Every room, suite, courtyard etc is impeccably designed and left me awestruck.
I lingered to study the architectural details over some champagne, then I headed off to see The Mandarin, The Ritz and Le Meurice, other popular luxury hotels on the Right Bank. It was getting close to happy hour so I hoped in an uber over to the Left Bank. I popped into well-known hotels such as Esprit St Germaine, Le Saint and Relais Christine, and quickly realized all the hotels on this side of the Seine are more intimate and generally much smaller. Just be aware of this when booking a hotel in this area - it's important to look at the room size to ensure your comfort.
Hungry for dinner, I found a cafe bar stool where I could enjoy steak and frites. I was lucky enough to sit with a couple of Canadians, always a favorite when traveling, who were residing in Paris. We chatted about the city, politics, hockey and of course hotels over a bit more rose. What a perfect first day!
The morning brought a lovely breakfast of buttery eggs, baguettes and stinky cheese at La Maison. Then it was off for a long walk through the city - my destination was Le Royal Monceau. I was particularly excited to explore this Raffles hotel as it's designed by Philippe Starke – one of my favorite hotel designers. I was warmly greeted by my endearing sales rep and we promptly sat down for lunch at Matsuhisa, Nobu's latest creation. I've never had the pleasure of dining at a Nobu before, and I was not disappointed. The artistic and delicious dishes such as the famous Black Cod and Salmon Tataki were an incredible pleasure.
After this memorable lunch we took off for a tour of the hotel. Every nook and cranny is designed with talent and care. For example, the Michelin Star Il Carpaccio's entrance is full of dime sized seashells hand glued onto the walls. I was also extremely impressed by the reindeer carved with chainsaws, the spacious rooms with hints of home, and the overall grandeur. I have to admit, I am pretty obsessed with this hotel.
The afternoon was spent wandering and soaking in the details and art of Paris. I realized I racked up over 20,000 steps, so it was time for a jet lag recovery nap, followed by a local, quaint dinner. The concierge sent me to Mini Palais. Immediately upon arrival, I was welcomed by the staff and escorted into a lovely dining room with high ceilings, thoughtful lighting, and locals chatting away. I opted to sit on the terrace overlooking the gorgeous architecture of Paris. Here I capped one of my best food days ever with a meal consisting of cucumber soup, followed by a salmon and cabbage. I know the entree doesn't sound very exciting, but I will be thinking about this for days to come.
A short stroll back from dinner and it was time to rest as I was heading off to London the next morning. I went to sleep, revived with passion for this gorgeous city and excited to share my discoveries with clients, friends and family.