by Ellie Smith & Rebecca Cox
There is always a new Parisian hotel to get the city buzzing, but it’s Shangri-La Paris that the crowd in the know flock to season after season, for the best hotel views of the Eiffel Tower and the best service in the city. When it comes to Parisian lodgings, the hip hot spots rise and fall, the trends, like the seasons, comes and go, but style? Style is forever. Review by Ellie Smith & Rebecca Cox.
The bar is high for Parisian hotels, a city known for its chic style, rich history and sparkling art scene. From cosy boltholes in Pigalle to 18th century establishments perched beside the Tuileries Garden, visitors are spoilt for choice for stylish places to stay. But if it’s spectacular views you’re after, it doesn’t get much better than Shangri-La Paris, which overlooks the city’s enduring centrepiece, the Eiffel Tower. And that’s not the only landmark on your doorstep: located in the 16th arrondissement, the hotel is just moments from Place du Trocadero, the Seine and the Champs-Élysées. Originally built as the home of Prince Roland Bonaparte (the great-nephew of Napoléon), the building was acquired by Shangri-La in 2006 before undergoing a four-year renovation spearheaded by Richard Martinet and interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. Yet great care was taken to protect its significant history, with many of its features listed as Monuments Historiques, such as the façade, majestic staircase and Versailles-style function rooms.
Opulent interiors feature across all corners of Shangri-La Paris. Its princely heritage is evident from the moment you arrive, with Ming Dynasty-inspired vases flanking the entrance to the lobby, a high-ceilinged space with refurbished marble flooring and a glittering chandelier. The hotel’s former owner was a botanist (with a collection running into the millions) and geographer, and nods to his passions are woven throughout – from the cocktails served at the Botaniste bar to astrological designs on the lobby ceiling. There are 100 rooms including 37 suites, 40 and 60 per cent of which respectively boast Eiffel Tower views. These range from Deluxe Rooms to the spectacular La Suite Gustave Eiffel, perched on the sixth floor of the hotel with floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto a corner terrace which offers an unparalleled panorama of Paris. No other room in Paris compares.
Most rooms feature blue, white and ecru décor, each with its own marble bathroom complete with a bathtub, rainfall shower and double sinks – all decked out with Guerlain toiletries. If an al fresco breakfast with views of the Eiffel Tower is on your bucket list, book one of The Terrace Eiffel Tower Rooms, which offer 55 square metres of space including an outdoor area. Of course, the most indulgent way to enjoy your Eiffel Tower view is from the bathtub in your marble bathroom, complete with heated floor, rainfall shower and double sink, with a glass of champagne and a macaron (or three).
For authentic Cantonese fine dining, head to Shang Palace, one of the Shangri-La’s signature eateries and the only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in France. Headed up by Chef Samuel Lee, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, with à la carte and tasting menus to choose from. Signature dishes include the roasted whole Peking duck and the King Crab trio – but there are plenty of great vegetarian dishes too, such as an indulgent deep-fried aubergine dish cooked in garlic and chilli. As expected from a restaurant of this calibre, everything is cooked to an impeccable standard, with friendly waiters on-hand to help advise on dishes. And if you only eat one thing in Paris, make it Crêpes de riz rouge aux crevettes (the red-rice rolls with shrimps).
Afterwards, head to Le Bar Botaniste for creative cocktails in a sultry setting. Honouring Bonaparte’s favourite pastime, the bar celebrates botany with a plant wall and unique tipples, with Regency-style furnishings giving the space a sophisticated feel akin to a library or club room. Head bartender Clément Emery is a wizard in mixology, and has conjured up a menu centred around herbs, spices and botanical spirits. Drinks recreate flavours without using the ingredient itself: ‘To Bee Or Not To Bee’, for instance, produces the taste of honey using honeybush, citron jaune and cognac.
Breakfast, meanwhile, is served in La Bauhinia, an impressive two-level dining room at the end of the main foyer. During the hotel’s renovation, architects were delighted to discover a class and steel Eiffel-inspired cupola hidden behind a false ceiling, designed by one of Eiffel’s contemporaries, which gives the space a light and airy feel. From here, choose from a large menu of breakfast dishes – from eggs and waffles to irresistible baskets of freshly baked croissants (when in Paris…). For an extra slice of luxury, opt to enjoy breakfast from the comfort of your room. Newly opened at the hotel is a champagne bar, which offers a selection of six champagnes served by the glass alongside treats from chef Maxence Barbot’s pastry cart. If you’re in the lounge at 7pm you’ll catch the daily champagne sabering, too. (In case you’re travelling without your own sabre.)
In need of some R&R after a weekend spent soaking up the city sights? Relax in Chi, The Spa, an Eastern-inspired retreat nestled within the hotel’s former stables. There’s a beautiful pool overlooking a leafy terrace, plus a well-equipped gym and multiple treatment rooms. Try the new CBD-infused massage – which uses hemp molecules for an extra physical and mental relaxation boost – before floating to the steam room for some heat therapy.
THE FINAL WORD
In spite of its grandeur, there’s a low-key atmosphere at Shangri-La Paris, thanks to warm and welcoming staff and the quiet surrounding area. It’s popular with couples, and a common spot for proposals (take a trip up the historic ‘stairway of honour’ and you’ll likely have to step over at least one romantic on one knee bearing a ring box) – but families are also well-accommodated. Rooms aren’t cheap, but laying in bed with Paris stretched out before you, the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower lighting your room? C’est inestimable.
The C&TH Guide to Paris / How To Style Your Home Like a Parisian