Travel review: Updating memories in The City of Light
PUBLISHED: 12:26 10 October 2018
One of our recurring holiday games is pondering on our favourite hotel and favourite destination. Like most lists through life, it changes over time. The one constant is that no hotel has ever ticked all of the boxes.
My favourite sound is the sea and a view of the blue stuff makes me calm and happy. But I love cities. The frenetic pace, the people watching and the culinary variety they offer.
A swimming pool is high on my priority list and so is the location which can often determine the footprint of that tiny NYC loft or huge villa on the beach in Fiji.
After reminiscing and deliberating, there is never one clear winner. Although one ticks more boxes than any other.
It has the best location, luxurious bedrooms, the most stunning views, my favourite restaurant in the world and a stylish swimming pool with garden terrace. It doesn’t have the sea but there’s always the next holiday for that.
This is quite a build-up but one it genuinely deserves. The Shangri-La Paris is undoubtedly one of the best hotels in the world.
Paris basks in its own beauty and the Shangri-La adds another layer of shimmering allure. The elegant building was the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte.
He held high society parties in the residence which guests are encouraged to enjoy as their own home. A nice touch although thankfully there were no reminders of my own home – not a single dirty dish in view and no piles of washing covering the bedroom floor.
I’ve always loved Paris. From early visits as a child with my family to my first trip abroad with my now husband. I remember tiny bedrooms, views of nothing or a fire exit staircase and excesses of pain au chocolate.
Those cheery memories will thankfully remain but a stay at Shangri-La Paris could ruin any future stays in the City of Light. This hotel shouts special occasion celebration with refrained modesty, not from its impressive rooftop. The sky-high bar showcases a perfect Eiffel Tower and River Seine view, one which can also be seen from our bedroom terrace.
After dark we were treated to a sparkling light show on the Eiffel Tower. Its mesmerising beauty could also be seen from every window in the room including from the bath. A truly enchanting sight.
The bedrooms are full of impressive amenities and luxuries but none surpass that view.
Going back to the nitty gritty of those lists, I detail gourmet Chinese food as one of my favourites. Shangri-La is home to Paris’s only Michelin starred Chinese – Shang Palace. The best restaurant I’ve ever visited in a hotel also lives here. L’Abeille. It boasts two Michelin stars. L’Abeille surpasses its peers with originally, lack of fuss, elegant surroundings and exceptional, experienced and friendly staff.
The focus was on comfort of environment and simplicity of flavours on the plate. Each course delivered more delight than the last. The desserts were made without sugar - my honeycomb with honey ice cream was incredible. The cocoa bark dessert was stunning in design and taste.
The maître de told us the restaurant and hotel celebrate up to three marriage proposals per week. I’m guessing they have a high success rate.
The beauty of having visited a city several times is not having that rushed to do list with boxes being ticked faster than it takes to enjoy the sites.
We wondered along the Seine, to the very close by Eiffel Tower and on to the Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris. The city’s municipally owned contemporary arts centre has impressive collections and a great coffee shop spilling onto a terrace.
Another of my favourite places in Paris is Jardin des Tuileries, the biggest park inside Paris.
The gardens, which separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde, are bustling with Parisians and visitors. Children take toy boats to lakes while others just relax and take in the scenery.
Even the journey to Paris is enjoyable. After a quick check-in at St Pancras, it was just 2 hours and 16 minutes to Gare du Nord, passport checks have been completed in London so its straight to a short metro or taxi ride to the hotel.
Paris is renowned for being a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. For me, it’s now known as the home of my favourite, list topping hotel.
Shangr-la Paris can be booked on www.shangri-la.com/paris/shangrila/ from £566 per night.
Tickets are available on www.eurostar.com or Eurostar’s contact centre on 03432 186 186 from £29