Most of my readers know that I just cannot get enough of Paris. I have made over two dozen visits to the French capital in the past 16 years and I don’t seem to ever get tired of writing, reviewing and critiquing every aspect of this magical city. It’s almost like a second home now. My recent trip to Paris was particularly interesting. I was staying at Mandarin Oriental Paris, the city’s coolest new property, at the heart of the fashionable St. Honoré district.The hotel has been in the news in recent times for its cutting edge sense of design and the impressive art work that dots its premises.
I have walked down Rue St. Honoré on several occasions, and I love it because it is relatively quieter, and less touristy as compared to the other parts of Paris, like say the Champs Elysees or the Opera district. And while I have stayed at hotels in most of the other parts of Paris, staying at a hotel in the heart of the fashion district was a first for me. And I had no complaint.
The Asian chain decided to set up shop on European shores recently and intended to stand out with an offering that not only reflected the European spirit of discreet luxury but also the warmth of Asian hospitality and impeccable service, which has come to be synonymous with the Mandarin Oriental group.
And after staying there for a few days, I can safely say that it really is so undeniably fashionable and elegant. It’s safe to say that the Mandarin Oriental Paris now stands as one of my top picks for European hotels. And I’ve put together ten reasons why the hotel is the coolest hotel in Paris. Read on…
1. A Fashionable Address: The Mandarin Oriental Paris probably enjoys one of Paris’s most coveted addresses. The uber, uber chic Rue St. Honoré district is home to Hermès and the herd of haute couture boutiques – minus the tourist throng of the Champs Elysees or the infernal Galeries Lafayette. The upscale address is right behind the iconic Place Vendôme, home to the world’s best haute jewellers — Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Boucheron, Chopard and Van Cleef & Arpels among other. The hotel is a few metres away from the picturesque Jardins de Tuileries (the Tuileries gardens) of the Louvre and the impressive Place de la Concorde. What I loved about this hotel’s location is the fact that it is relatively quieter and far from the tourist trails. While you can never escape eager tourists on the streets of Paris, the St. Honoré streets are, in my opinion, far more Parisian than touristy. So expect to see less crowds. Phew!
2. Magnificent Inner Courtyard: A building with an elegant courtyard is such a quintessentially Parisian concept. And the Mandarin Oriental probably boasts one of the best in all of Paris. Elegantly restored and restructured, the hotel’s courtyard is heavy on the greenery and even has a small pond and outdoor seating areas from the bar and the restaurant. Interestingly enough, the Mandarin Oriental Paris building used to be three office buildings, built in the 1930s and restored painstakingly by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Unfortunately, when I visited, we were in the peak of winter, so we didn’t really dare spend a leisurely afternoon in the courtyard. But I did see some fashionable Parisians from the nearby offices enjoying their espressos while seated in the courtyard. An interesting touch — during my visit, which was shortly after Chinese New Year, the entire courtyard was decorated with red Chinese lamps. It was wonderful.
3. Good Things Come in Small Buildings: The Mandarin Oriental Paris may belong to a major international luxury hotel chain, but like all things Parisian, they’ve managed to limit their size. And that is their selling point. I just love it. It matches the idea of discreet luxury, that discerning travellers are looking for these days. There are no more than 138 rooms and 39 suites in this hotel. I am of the opinion that when it comes to luxury, smaller is indeed better.
4. Sipping in Style: Any hotel that has a Nespresso machine in every room already scores several points in my eyes. But I haven’t yet been to a hotel where they serve Paris’s most famous gourmet tea ‘Mariage Frères’. In my room, I found a stunning little teapot in a metal outer shell, branded by Mariage Frères. If it weren’t for the city of Paris, I’d be sitting within the plush confines of my room all day long, alternating between cups of Nespresso and Mariage Frères.
5. Diptyque Paris: There are small things that set apart a regular five star hotel from a five star luxury hotel. Bath and body products are an important factor. And I am VERY particular about this. As a guest, I am not interested in ‘XYZ Hotel’ branded shampoo or bubble bath. Show me an exclusive brand that I can trust my hair and skin with when I am in a foreign country. I step into the bathroom at Mandarin Oriental Paris and guess what I spot – DIPTYQUE. Wow, one of my favourite brands. I could smell their signature candles all over the lobby. I couldn’t wait to slather myself with some Diptyque shampoo, shower gel and body lotion. A hotel in Paris opting for Paris’s trendiest product brand, I couldn’t see a better choice.
6. Immersed in Art: Mandarin Oriental is not like one of those gold gilded, rich tapestry ridden palaces of Paris. It is symbolic of a brand new Paris. It represents modern Paris, a fresh new perspective given to visitors. There is a decidedly modern feel to the hotel, while at the same time retaining a strong Parisian identity. I spotted quite a few interesting elements of art all over the hotel. When I walked into the stunning Bar 8, I was greeted by a wall dotted with Lalique glass crystals. It was meant to represent fresh drops of rain in a forest. So stunningly depicted! To my right I spotted a giant curtain of Murano glass, which is meant to represent rainfall.
7. A Palace or a Bathroom? : What could I possibly say about the bathrooms. The bathroom in my room was probably the size of a standard small Parisian apartment. The shower and Jacuzzi were in a separate room. The shower area had its own little marble bench and a little niche in the wall showcasing the Diptyque products. Spacious and elegantly fashioned in white marble, with separate his and hers sections, the bathrooms are fringed with huge wardrobes. . On a hotel tour, as I checked out some of the higher end rooms, I found that some of the suites had such spectacular bathrooms that I find it hard to describe them here. A few of the suites even had bathrooms overlooking the Eiffel Tower and the rooftops of Paris.
8. Service Glorious Service: As soon as you step into the hotel, you can’t help but notice the Mandarin Oriental stamp of service. It is evident everywhere. As a luxury blogger, one of the marks of a luxury hotel is when they are able to consistently remember a guest’s name, throughout his/her stay. And the staff at the hotel rose to the challenge and succeeded with flying colours. From the reception staff to the telephone operator and even the service staff at the breakfast restaurant, everyone seemed to have done their homework and knows your name. The folks here seem to be going all out to not only meet but exceed your expectations. “Mr. George, is there anything else I can get you?” “Certainly Mr. George” “Did you have a good day in Paris, Mr. George?” was what I was met with at every minute. So MO Paris passes my consistency test.
9. The Oh-So-Chic Staff: Another thing that struck me during my stay at the hotel is just how well groomed the MO Paris staff is. And when I say well groomed, I do not mean just a fancy jacket and neat hair. I mean staff dressed up like models and groomed to the tee. My speculation is that the Mandarin Oriental, being an Asian group, must have strict grooming regulations, which is common in Asian hotels. I’ve often seen staff at luxury hotels in Europe dressed ‘neatly’ and that’s all. What I noticed here: hair gelled back, tied in chignons or high ponytails, manicured hands on reception staff, understated watches, no casual stubbles and shoes polished to the hilt. The guys here are clearly taking their guest experience program very very seriously.
10. A King’s Breakfast: Mandarin Oriental has probably one of the best breakfasts in the city. And I’m not necessarily referring to the food. I’ve had a better spread in other hotels. I am referring to the whole atmosphere. Breakfast usually happens at the Camélia restaurant on the ground floor, overlooking the courtyard of the hotel. I loved the décor at Camélia, with its walls covered in giant white camellia petals. The restaurant is very small, which means, you can really enjoy a quiet peaceful breakfast before setting out to explore the city of Paris. The food is laid out on the central serving platform. I tanked up on some exquisite cappuccinos (with a chocolate drop in the form of the MO logo) and the most flaky, buttery croissants in all of Paris.
There you go, ten reasons why I think Mandarin Oriental Paris is indeed the coolest hotel in Paris. Très chic!
Mandarin Oriental Paris
251, Rue Saint Honoré, Paris.