Paris has many lovely parts to it: the buzz of the Champs Elysee, the vintage finds peppered amongst the designer shops in Le Marais, and the myriad opportunities for a perfect steak tartare on every corner, to name a few. But perhaps one of the nicest things about it, is that it's only a two-hour(ish) trip on the Eurostar - here, brilliant fares can be found year-round and it means that organising an impromptu trip is as easy as holiday planning gets.
But where do you find a space in this metropolis that offers a central location, and all the excitement and romance you'd expect, as well as ample opportunity to relax?
We checked into the Mandarin Oriental, Paris, the city's most luxurious hotel, nestled amongst the luxurious boutiques of rue Saint-Honoré, and just a 10-minute walk away from the world-famous Louvre.
This vibrant city hotel, built around a central, leafy courtyard, brings in the fashion and creativity of Paris and blends it seamlessly with the flair and hospitality that the Mandarin Oriental group are so well known for. It is a hotel full of nods to Paris' history while simultaneously ushering in the future.
Seen from the chic velvet armchairs and past the colourful, oversized artwork of the lobby, the green courtyard centres around a magnificent living wall that spans the top of the building to the bottom. At it's feet, a water feature bubbles through the courtyard, sheltered by the lightly-perfumed camellia trees, attracting birds that give the space a feeling of calm. You would never know that just metres away the city's creme-de-la-creme flit from boutique-to-boutique, or that the road that runs past the Louvre and up to the Champs Elysee is just behind you.
In the evening's the courtyard is lit up by candles and heaters and those in-the-know mix with the hotel's guests enjoying aperitifs in the last of the evening light. It is a bubble of magic and mingling, unbeknownst to those who pass by.
Below ground the same feeling of blissful relief can be found at the Guerlain Spa, capable of reseting even the most weary of travellers. A central dome sounds your arrival with an automatic bong, it ripples through you, soothing your mind and body instantly - I must admit that I walked through it on several occasions where I was not scheduled for a treatment, just to soak up it's healing effect.
The quiet pool can be found to your right, but if you're having a treatment you will be lead through to your private suite. Reminiscent of a coral cave, glistening with mother of pearl, each suite has it's own steam shower, separate loo, dressing table and space, and then the treatment room itself - a handful also come with a separate vitality pool.
A massage, nice though it is, can often blend into the memories of past treatments: they're all relaxing, but all more or less the same. However, my massage at the Guerlain Spa is the best I have ever had; the technique felt refreshingly intuitive, the strokes were long and rhythmic and the background music was calming but uplifting, not the usual mellow soundtracks (often more akin to lift music than anything else).
Several floors above the spa, our Deluxe Suite invited the relaxation to continue. A freestanding bath tub, complete with a TV disguised as a mirror at it's foot, piles of books on haute-couture, sumptuous furniture crafted out of rich amaranth wood, and a super king-size bed with a striking velvet headboard all help to make the generously-proportioned space feel as chic as it is calm and cosy.
Opulent bathrooms feature separate tub and walk-in shower, toilet with several seat and flush options, while bespoke Diptyque products round off the luxurious feel.
Perhaps the biggest giveaway that you are experiencing the best the world has to offer comes, oddly, in the form of the pillow menu. Choose between rose-scented goose feather, bamboo fiber, or memory foam perfumed with coconut milk - or perhaps opt for a range to be brought up, so you can try them at your leisure?
Breakfast, served in the Camélia garden restaurant, is distinctly Parisian in its extensive selection of baked goods: perfectly crisped crossaints, pain au chocolat that crumble and give way to a sweet centre, and a beautifully displayed range of brioche, cake and other pastries. Aside from this ample continental buffet though, influences from all over the world have been included so you might find yourself ordering dim sum a la Hong Kong or syrup-soaked pancakes as in New York.
French chef Thierry Marx oversees the hotel's restaurant trio. Sur Mesure has two Michelin stars and showcases Marx's molecular gastronomy in a cocooning, all-white space – 'clouds' host tables with their own 'moon' (light) and an alcove completes the confident look of the space. All-day dining can be found at the idyllic Camélia garden restaurant; while L'Honoré offers dinners more privacy in the form of booths dotted throughout the lobby, the ideal spot for a lighter lunch or afternoon tea - plus, it's perfect for people watching.
BOOK HERE Double rooms from €975 (£855) year-round. Breakfast excluded, costs from €47 (£41).
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