Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.
There seems to be a spate of luxury hotels opening in Paris in the last few years. Discerning travelers now have options other than the purely Parisian Grand Dames like the Crillon, Plaza Athénée and Le Meurice. A long awaited Asian rival has recently opened its doors
Mandarin Oriental has always defined the luxury hotel in Asia and is now spreading its Eastern philosophy to Paris. The new property on the rue St. Honoré rubs elbows with upscale neighbors Hermés, Lanvin, Goyard and the Hotel Bristol. Designer Sybille de Margerie has refurbished an Art Deco 30s gem and has reconfigured it to have the largest hotel rooms in Paris, averaging over 400 square each. Not only are the 138 rooms spacious, but they all have panoramic windows with some having terraces overlooking the lush courtyard garden. Thirty nine suites include the Suite Royal Mandarin, measuring over 4,000 sq. foot and on two levels, with a breathtaking 360 degree view of the rooftops and grand monuments of Paris including the Grand Palais, the Opera Garnier and the Louvre. The vast white and gold bathroom has the ultimate Parisian indulgence: a birds-eye view of the Eiffel Tower while taking a bath.
Two restaurants and a trendy bar are under the direction of Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx. Sur Mesure, a gastronomic haute couture experience, is an intimate space with 45 seats and two menu selections of 9 or 13 dishes are printed on Japanese rice paper. Camelia is the more informal restaurant serving French cuisine. It has a light, airy, indoor space that spills into the gardens. Bar 8 has specially made cocktails and the cozy interior has tones of warm browns and walls inlaid with Lalique crystals. For sweet lovers, the cake shop drips with mouthwatering French pastries to savor on the spot or they can be beautifully wrapped to take to your room.
A tranquil oasis away from the bustling city, the spa is entirely devoted to a holistic experience to promote the harmony of the mind and the body. The centerpiece is the long, languid 45-foot long indoor pool. Couples can indulge in three spa suites and each treatment begins with a private therapist consultation to determine the present state of well-being and the treatment and oils are then tailored to each guest.
Parisian luxury doesn’t necessarily have to come from Paris.