The maiden aunt of Parisian grand hotels has been transformed into the exciting young niece. Of all the palace hotels in Paris, one always used to strike me as being quieter and more reserved than the rest. No longer. The staid old Royal Monceau has become the flamboyant Raffles Royal Monceau. For the designer Philippe Starck has waved his magic wand, and the most traditional hostelry in Paris has become an Aladdin’s Cave of modern art and design. There is a private cinema, an ‘art concierge’ (to help you buy your next Picasso), an art bookshop and a gallery for contemporary art called, ‘Art District’. Then, after such aesthetic excitement, you can relax at the Clarins Spa and have a dip in its 23 metre pool. And over all this presides one of Europe’s best hotel managers, the charming Aaron Kaupp (pictured).
It is among the happy daydreams of the gourmet to try to construct in his mind, from memories of his experiences of the food prepared in the world’s great kitchens, the perfect meal. For my own part, such pleasant musings always include dishes from my favourite restaurant in Paris, Le Grand Véfour. In its exquisite dining room I have experienced such moments of gastronomic delight that my spirits have seemed to soar to a higher plane. On such occasions it has occurred to me that only the Beatific Vision itself could bring me more intense joy. My most recent dinner served to reinforce my belief that at Le Grand Véfour can be found the Pure Essence of High Gastronomy. Even as I call to mind that evening, when I dined in black tie, I am filled with contentment.
The Park Hyatt Paris – Vendôme is one of the very best hotels in Paris. Opened in 2002, it occupies five 19th century Haussmann-style buildings a few steps from the gorgeous Place Vendôme, in the very centre of the city. If you look at the hotel façade from a distance, you will probably admire the sense of unity in its appearance. This was achieved by physically raising one of the stone fronts by several inches – a remarkable feat of modern engineering. Clearly, no expense was spared to make the exterior right. And I had the same sense that everything had been made ‘just so’ inside, too. The interior design is the work of Ed Tuttle, an American from Seattle. His creation is modern, but not aggressively so – with Classical references in the colonnades, and hints of Art Déco fun in the use of gold and silver leaf. With lots of limestone and mahogany, Mr Tuttle has produced welcoming spaces which speak of cool sophistication and luxury. I liked them very much.
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See also Dining in France & American Farm to Table