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March 22, 2017

Why Le Bristol Paris Is The Perfect Hotel For Your Inner Parisian

Text by Shirin Mehta

The iconic property offers the best of the French art of joie de vivre as well as elegant gastronomy

On the street where embassies congregate, prominent luxury stores titillate, where history has been made in iconic buildings and structures, here, on this, the city’s main artery, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, stands the art deco facade of Le Bristol Paris. This venerable hotel has been a part of the sumptuousnss, history and backstory of this prestigious location, its geranium-adorned frontage today considered one of the pearls of the Oetker Collection, the luxury hotel brand. It is also a member of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW).

The hotel dates back to 1925 when Hippolyte Jammet created the ‘palace of his dreams’ which quickly became a haven for important personages and leading figures. It is fitting that in 2011, Le Bristol was the first in France to receive the ‘Palace’ status, a distinction awarded by the French Ministry of Tourism. When Jammet’s widow decided to sell the property to provide a legacy for her heirs, she chose German businessman, Rudolf A. Oetker, who continued to offer the establishment’s famous personalised service and embarked on a project of renovation.

Through the revolving door, enter into the lobby and reception area where the concierge desk offers expert advice on just about everything. Having finished with the check-in ritual, a key with the iconic Le Bristol key chain is handed over — there is no place for plastic key cards in a palace! If you are lucky, one of the hotel mascots, Fa-Raon, a sacred Birman cat with big blue eyes or Kleopatre, his feminine half, will be there to greet you. Already the hotel seems to seep under your skin with its marble walls, Aubusson tapestries, priceless paintings and classic furniture as also the magnificent wrought-iron grill of the art deco elevator at the bottom of the grand staircase.

The hotel boasts 188 rooms and suites, each one with its own decor combining the refinement of the Louis XV period with the grace of the Louis XVI style. Precious ornaments, custom furnishings, graceful chandeliers, dressers, desks and vanities in the French style impart a feeling of cosy intimacy. The bathrooms have interiors created of white Carrara marble or pink marble from Portugal. In addition to 40 Junior Suites, are offered two Terrace Suites and nine Signature Suites. The Panoramic Suite has been immortalised by Woody Allen in his movie Midnight in Paris.

For the world’s gourmets, this has become an essential stop to savour gastronomy by Eric Frechon in the three-Michelin-starred Epicure restaurant, the one-Michelin-starred Le 114 Faubourg brasserie, the Café Antonia with its historic painting of Queen Marie Antoinette by François Hubert Drouais, a court portraitist at the end of the reign of Louis XV, and of course in room service and at receptions held here. Frechon caters to a very discerning clientele with the ambition to make every dish memorable. I get a small taste of this at breakfast at Epicure, which is a delightful experience. If in the mood for it, order the Le Bristol Breakfast which includes a glass of champagne, soft boiled egg with maple syrup and caviar, smoked salmon on blinis with slightly sour dill cream, Parma ham and burrata with olive oil, fromage blanc and seasonal fresh fruit salad. I opt instead for the French toast which is so perfectly soft, crisp and delightful that I am in foodie heaven. If you opt for breakfast at the Café Antonia, be assured of the tenderest scrambled eggs, the most fragrant hams and delightfully warm croissants. Bliss! On sunny days the cafe opens onto the hotel’s interior French-style garden, a profusion of seasonal flowers and plants around the Fontaine aux Amours or fountain of Love.

In the evening, converge at Le Bar du Bristol which stages original art and music to the taste of award-winning head barman Maxim Hoerth’s mixology. At Le Bar different styles and eras meet: oak parquet de Versailles flooring, pale pine panelling, a Sienna marble fireplace, leopard-print banquettes and bespoke zebra print stools. Shelves designed like jewel boxes reveal a private collection of rare spirits, vintage books, botanical prints, seashells and contemporary sculptures. Above the wood-and-gold bar, a gigantic mirror transforms into a screen at night to display the videos of cutting-edge contemporary artists.

A stylish pool is perched with a view of the rooftops of  Paris while the Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie offers signature treatments, massages and beauty rituals using exclusive La Prairie products. A fitness centre and a beauty salon further enhance the feeling of peace and tranquillity that this iconic property has probably already invoked in you.

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