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.
And I liked, too, the emphasis on contemporary art throughout the hotel. Most of the paintings and sculptures were created for their current locations, so the establishment has been a major patron of the arts. Interesting canvases are all over the place. Some were more to my taste than others, but that is the way it must be with art. Even the door handles and light fittings are the work of a distinguished sculptress – Roseline Granet. Another treasure of the hotel is its General Manager. I first met Mr Claudio Ceccherelli (pictured) when he was in charge of the Park Hyatt in Milan. Apart from being the most affable of men, he is also an expert in ensuring that his guests receive the level of service they expect at a top class hotel. Certainly, his team here is a credit to him.
Of the 178 rooms, mine was on the second floor at the front of the hotel, with views over the prestigious shopping street, the rue de la Paix. Indeed, if I peered to the right I could see my favourite emporium in Paris – Charvet, the place from which gentlemen of substantial means obtain their silk ties. Number 241 was a ‘prestige suite’ and therefore 1,471€-1,658€ a night for two, breakfast extra. Here, as throughout the hotel, the clever use of mirrors increased the impression of space – and there was lots of space, for there were two bathrooms and a proper hallway, in addition to the sitting room and the bedroom. I appreciated, too, the high ceilings. The colours – the light brown of the woodwork and the splashes of gold here and there, set off by discreet lighting – were restful. And the apartment was blissfully quiet, even when the air conditioning was performing its magic.
The blinds at the windows were electrically operated. In the limestone bathroom the taps were gold-plated. A grand coffee-making machine was provided for my use. The sense throughout was of gentle and comfortable luxury.
From this pleasant lodging I sallied forth to the Park Hyatt’s grand restaurant for dinner. PUR’ Jean-François Rouquette is open only in the evenings. It occupies an interesting chamber, reminiscent – to this diner, at least – of a domed orangery. I sat within the circular central space, and felt very much at ease, for the service – orchestrated by maitre d’ Cyril Bruneau – is courteous, attentive and proper. I was pleased to note that napkins were replaced when diners left their places for a moment. On my table were fine Riedel glasses and white napery. All was set for a splendid meal.
Chef Jean François Rouquette (who has worked in some of the greatest French kitchens, like Taillevent) says, “I like my cooking to be tasty, genuine and bear my personal stamp.” He has a Michelin star, and my meal demonstrated that it is fully deserved. Indeed, I would not be at all surprised if a second star appeared in the sky before too long. The ingredients he uses are first-rate, and he handles them with intelligence, skill and confidence. This is subtle and hugely enjoyable food.
I began with a stunning dish. It was described as ‘foie gras pot-au-feu with flakes of black truffle’. These words were accurate, but they do not capture the brilliance of the confection. The pot arrived, containing the duck liver and the divine fungus, and into the pot was poured duck jus. As if a wizard had cast his spell, the constituents were transformed into the most gorgeous and ravishing whole. Superb. Then the next course was nearly as good: scallops on two plates, some marinated and the others cooked. With ginger sauce, slices of truffle, celery and lovage, here was another exciting combination of tastes and textures. My meat was Wagyu beef from Japan – as succulent and tender as I could have wished. And standards were kept up right to the end with the ‘jeu de pommes’ by Pastry Chef Jimmy Mornet. The iced parfait of green apples with Chartreuse and basil was a treat. (These four courses were 280€.)
Sommelier James Barnett, a charming chap from the United States, presides over a list with 519 offerings, including a good selection of half-bottles. Prices range from 70€ (for a 2011 beaujolais, for example) to 4,220€ for the 1971 vintage of Yquem. France dominates, of course, but there are tempting ‘foreigners’, such as 2007 Opus One from California (1,010€), 2008 Almaviva from Chile (470€) and 2010 Solaia (710€) and 2012 Gaja Barbaresco (490€) from Italy. Other bottles to catch my eye were: 1988 Margaux (1,300€), 2009 Cristal (510€), 2013 Laguiche Montrachet (1,280€) and 2007 Le Pin (4,050€).
For less formal dining, there is La Cheminée – the area around the fireplace, as the name indicates. Here I tucked into some good, uncomplicated food (spaghettini with tomato and basil, roasted country chicken and caramel and vanilla ice cream [90€]) – delivered to me by Remi, the friendly waiter from Fontainbleu, and washed down with glasses of an excellent Chassagne Montrachet (Morey Coffinet, 2016 – 32€, glass).
My breaking of the fast was done each morning in Les Orchidées, a restaurant in which meals are served during the day. This is another handsome space, with columns and a glass roof. I selected a corner table (remarkably, with a black leather tablecloth) and a decent, supportive armchair. Members of staff in black brought to me my ‘Granfather’s Breakfast’ (porridge made with water, brown bread and butter and sliced, raw onion) and pots of coffee and buckets of ice. And from the extensive buffet I secured slices of delicious Ementhal tart, pieces of ripe mango, supplies of crusty brown bread and dishes of lovely strawberry jam. All these comestibles were of high quality.
Indeed, everything about the Park Hyatt Paris – Vendôme is of high quality. It is a tip-top hotel in the best part of town, with fine food, a brilliant manager and comfortable accommodation. For what more could one ask?
5 rue de la Paix, 75002 Paris, France.
Telephone +33 (0)1 58 71 12 34
Fax +33 (0)1 58 71 12 35
Double rooms from 750€ – 950€, bed and breakfast, according to season
Check the hotel website for the rates for specific dates and for special offers