Je suis un fan

Photography: George Apostolidis.


Mandarin Oriental, Paris has just celebrated its first birthday. An oasis of contemporary luxury in the bustling heart of the fashionable Saint-Honoré district, to stay at this hotel is to savour modern Parisian style with a refined infusion of the Orient.

Paris Fashion Week was in full swing when our taxi plied its way slowly up the bustling narrow Rue Saint-Honoré to deposit us at the coolly understated entrance of Mandarin Oriental, Paris. Tucked between two grand old town houses, the approach to the lobby beneath a canopy of tiny glass lights – each sculpted as a butterfly – gives a first clue as to what’s in store. Inside the main lobby with its soaring grey marble columns and floor-to-ceiling windows, there’s a second; a sculpture of a human form in two circles suspended in space.

We’ve arrived at a place of air and light – a location to free the body and soul.

The hotel’s design style takes its inspiration from the richness and modernity of the 1930s and Art Deco. The original building dates from 1928, and its 138 rooms and suites on eight floors are amongst the most spacious hotel rooms in Paris.

The welcome, like that experienced at all the group’s hotels was distinctive; warm and efficient. With all the fabulous creature comforts, it’s so often the staff, brought up in the unique Mandarin Oriental tradition, that makes staying at any of the group’s hotels a deeply satisfying and memorable experience.

We were graciously guided to room 514, a Suite Deluxe consisting of bedroom, bathroom, lounge and balcony overlooking the Rue Saint Honoré. With sliding doors separating its three areas and floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s a large fluid space impeccably stylish and exquisitely furnished. Chic oriental touches and bold contemporary art, exude a feeling of understated contemporary glamour and luxurious exclusivity. “Look dad, it comes with its own iPad!” squealed my eight-year-old son son in glee.

The cutting-edge technology to hand, is of course bespoke – Bang & Olufsen as well as Apple, and three discretely-positioned widescreen TVs – including one seamlessly part of the wall in the stunning bathroom – offer state-of-the-art entertainment technology. My only concern was how would I ever get my son to leave this cocoon of luxurious technically advanced comfort. The indoor pool was the answer, part of the deeply tranquil retreat that is the hotel’s spa where subtle animated projections of butterflies in flight create a dreamlike world. Extending over two floors, the 900 square metre spa is one of the city’s largest.

Within this subterranean sanctuary, therapies developed by specialists in traditional Chinese medicine promote complete mind-body harmony. Evocatively titled treatments include Hu-Tieh Quan (the Butterfly Spring): a bath of warming ginger, uplifting mandarin and sacred frankincense followed by a soothing body mask and massage.

If all that holistic pampering makes you hungry, the hotel has two restaurants under the watchful eye of one of France’s most celebrated chefs – Thierry Marx, MO Paris’ Executive Chef; the gourmet Michelin-starred Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx, and Camélia, an all-day restaurant offering French cuisine influenced by Marx’s love and knowledge of Japan.

Spilling into an elegant courtyard garden, Camélia is also the venue for the sumptuous buffet breakfast: just what’s needed if you have designs on some serious retail fashion therapy.

The Rue Saint-Honoré is the heart of Paris haute couture and home to the world’s most famous fashion brands – Versace, Hermes, Chanel and Yves Saint Lauren, as well as newer kids on the block like the edgy Colette ‘concept’ store. They are all on your doorstep at Mandarin Oriental, Paris.

Whether you’re buying or just indulging in ‘lèche-vitrines’ (window shopping in French – literally ‘window-licking’), a stroll on the Rue Saint-Honoré is an experience not to be missed. But then if you simply want to pamper yourself chez Mandarin Oriental, the hotel has a fabulous optional extra that adds a new dimension to Parisian retail therapy. Not only will the concierge find any item you’ve set your heart on, but will arrange free pick-up and delivery to your room.

An up, close and personal encounter with Parisian history in all its magnificence is something that can’t be delivered – but it’s wonderfully close. Sitting in the capital’s premier arrondissement, you’re a five-minute stroll from two landmark Parisian squares – Place de la Concorde and Place Vendome. My son was less-enamoured with high-fashion and history but rather with simpler local delights. We headed to the Tuileries – the seventeenth century gardens that make up the central-most park in Paris; they have a funfair that he adored almost as much as our beloved suite.

Eurostar had whisked us in to Paris from London. We were there 48 hours, just enough time to scale the Eiffel Tower [tip: avoid long queues by getting there by 9.30am and walk the first two stages], take a boat trip along the Seine and of course, indulge in a touch of that retail therapy unique to the French capital.

Mandarin Oriental, Paris exemplifies modern, rather than classic, luxury, and it does so breathtakingly. The butterfly, that delicate emblem of rebirth and fleeting freedom runs discreetly throughout this sublime hotel; it’s a symbol that could not be more fitting for this oasis of chic refinement.

While only the fortunate few might be able to make a Suite Deluxe at the Mandarin Oriental their regular pied de terre in the French capital, for any discerning traveller every space here is an oasis to savour – a place to rest for exquisite nourishment before spreading your wings again.

Sensuous luxury – that doesn’t cost the earth

At Mandarin Oriental, Paris, providing luxury and fastidious customer service with environmentally sustainable practices is a seamless process

The hotel has committed itself to obtaining La Haute Qualité Environnementale or HQE (High Quality Environmental certification) – the highest standard for green buildings in France. As the first hotel in France to recognised for such a commitment to the environment, its eco-responsible policy approach saves between 20 and 30 per cent of its energy usage in comparison with a non-HQE building.

Child’s play

For families, Mandarin Oriental, Paris has created an experience to showcase the best of what Paris has to offer younger visitors.

Ideal for parents wanting to introduce their children to the city’s beauty and culture, J’aime Paris en famille allows families to improve their understanding of France and the French language in one fun-filled day.

Comprising an enchanting tour of the city’s most famous and child-friendly delights, the tour is guided by an expert not just in Parisian culture and history, but how to make it come alive for children new to the city.

After the day’s explorations, families can enjoy un goûter, a snack that French children traditionally enjoy at 4pm, which at Mandarin Oriental, Paris, is best enjoyed at the Cake Shop. Pastries and macarons will tempt the young, while a well-deserved glass of Bollinger awaits for parents at play.

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