The Shangri-La is a Parisian paradise
The aptly-named luxury hotel in the City of Love is quite simply as good as it gets.
I have just stayed in the best hotel room in my life with the best view in the world. Yes, the Shangri-La hotel in Paris is so good it has to be one for the bucket list.
The view I am talking about is the Eiffel Tower right on your doorstep. It is so close that when it dazzles at night with its twinkling lights it feels as if it is within touching distance.
It is no wonder Forbes magazine described it as the best luxury hotel in Paris. I would go further and say the best luxury hotel in Europe.
Standing in a suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower, it was hard to believe that Paris’s most iconic monument was originally just a temporary structure put up by Gustave Eiffel for the Exposition Universelle in 1889 on the centenary of the French Revolution.
It is still very much here and if you stay at the majestic Shangri-La, you will get quite used to seeing it given the hotel’s unique position in its shadow.
Originally the private mansion of Napoleon’s great-nephew Roland Bonaparte, the hotel has 101 bedrooms and suites, some with balconies from which you can almost touch the Tower across the Seine.
It also has an exquisite spa and pool and a fantastic range of restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Shang Palace cantonese restaurant and L’Abeille, the hotel’s French gastronomic restaurant, which received two stars in the Michelin Guide.
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From the minute you are welcomed into the extraordinary Shangri-La by top-hatted doormen, who stand next to two huge Ming Dynasty-inspired vases, and cheongsam-clad reception staff beside the magnificent marble staircase you know you are in for such a special stay.
Step into the historic billiard room with a fireplace, fumoir and waiting room and you will feel you are stepping back in time to 1896 when it was first used as a palace.
Bathed in natural light, the hotel lobby features high ceilings and refurbished marble. Its thoughtfully placed alcoves offer discreet nooks for guests to consult with Shangri-La personnel.
Imperial insignias and ornate monograms of Prince Roland Bonaparte, subtly integrated into the architecture, are complemented with Asian influence in the decor and ambience of the hotel and its restaurants and bar.
When I arrived in my spacious suite and opened the curtains, I faced the breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower. To top things off you could sit on the balcony with a glass of champagne taking in the view. You can even see the super structure from the bath tub in the room.
The rooms are calmly classical and recall the French grand lifestyle, a nod to this hotel’s history. The rooms, which all reflect the Asia meets Paris elegance, have a mark of Napoleonic splendour with marble bathrooms, heated floors, rainfall showers and large windows to savour the views.
I managed to catch a glimpse of the 2,420 sq ft Suite Shangri-La penthouse, which is a favourite for the rich and famous, including Beyonce, but it will set you back more than €20,000. I may have to wait on that lottery win!
For dinner, I enjoyed a marvellous meal at La Bauhinia, which combines French and Southeast Asian cuisine, taking its name from the flower that adorns the flag of Hong Kong (where the Shangri-La chain is based).
The Malaysian stewed lamb in red curry and coconut milk and the matasman chicken curry were both delightful. Each dish had been so carefully constructed that you could taste and savour each and every flavour.
The hotel’s Le Bar Botaniste which opened last year celebrates the favourite pastime of its first resident, eccentric botanist Roland Bonaparte, who once assembled the world’s largest private plant collection. His work is honoured here through rare botanical spirits and an atmosphere to match. Its cocktail list is pretty epic.
As the hotel is pretty central it is a great base from which to explore the city. However, you will find it so hard to leave.
If you do a short walk away brings you to the banks of the Seine where you can enjoy a river cruise to see along the sights of the city including the Notre Dame cathedral and the Louvre museum.
The hotel is located on avenue d’Iéna in the 16th arrondissement of Paris close to the Trocadero and in an area with the highest concentration of museums in Europe.
They include Palais Galleria, Palais de Tokyo, Museum of Man, Museum of Modern Art and Marmottan Monet Museum.
The hotel also has its own travel guide to the French capital called 10 Parisian Walks which presents the keys to the city in the form of 10 exclusive paths.
If you are more of a Disneyland Paris type of person it is also just a 45 minute train ride from the city centre. You can catch the Metro there for €8.40.
The theme park contains two parks, the Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Disneyland is separated into five themed lands offering something for all ages — Fantasyland, Frontierland, Discoveryland, Adventureland and Main Street USA.
When you are done there or sight-seeing, or shopping along the Champs Elysees — trust me you could spend hours doing that — you should chill out in the 15m x 6m swimming pool and fitness centre which are actually housed in the palace’s former stables.
It is a haven of tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city outside. The pool is actually the largest private indoor Parisian pool with natural sunlight.
Paris always leaves me enamoured but after staying at the Shangri-La, I have fallen in love with the city all over again.
Shangri-La Hotel, 10 avenue d’Iéna, 16th arrondissement, Paris. Check out www.shangri-la.com/paris/shangrila/
Aer Lingus flies up to four times daily from Dublin to Paris, Charles De Gaulle with one-way fares starting from €34.99 including taxes and charges.
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