Forty-eight hours in Paris is barely enough time to scrape the surface of this city of surprises, far less discover its hidden depths.
In one direction the illuminated grandeur of the Eiffel Tower twinkling in the night sky, in the other on the highest point of the city, the majestic Sacre-Coeur, encircled by street artists and cafés. Enough perhaps for the click-happy camera tourists, but what about the truly discerning traveller? That’s something the Renaissance Paris Vendôme Hotel has devised an answer to, with all the style, charm and sophistication you’d expect from the most romantic city in the world.
Budget or boutique?
This is Parisian chic at its indulgent best, with the unveiling of designer Didier Gomez’s distinct, re-imagined awakening of the 18th century building, which has transformed a once petite space into a contemporary yet welcoming 97-bedroom home-from-home.
From his “living room” concept of mixed French furniture, to shelves boasting tasteful books, art on the walls and an atrium bathing the foyer in natural light, to the outside walls adorned with a creation by pop street artist Iza Zaro, rooms dressed in sophisticated hues of blue and grey, art on the ceilings, fresh flowers and decorative filament bulb lights, Gomez aims to arrest the senses with each flourish. It’s all ready to be accessorised by designer touches from Maison Baluchon, and shopping sprees to the likes of exclusive hotel friends shoe designer Bettina Vermillon and perfume house Ex Nihilo as soon as the suitcases are unpacked.
Wining and dining
Paris is famed for its cuisine and wine, yet it is dinner at Balagan, the hotel’s new bar and restaurant, that has this quarter of the city abuzz, with non-guests having to book as much as three months in advance for a seat at Israeli chef Assaf Granit’s table, along with destination speakeasy-style cocktail bar.
This “joyful mess”, to explain its Hebrew name, a collaboration with the Experimental Group, is nothing short of spectacular in taste and theatre, with open kitchens creating salade fatoush, kebab destructure and tartare de boeuf Damascus to the most outlandish serving of surprise dessert you may ever encounter. Oh, not to mention the Israeli champagne and young French wines arriving in a blaze of smell and colour.
From the size and give of the king-sized bed to the spacious shower and bath, even the rug beneath the feet, this room oozes charm but without a hint of stuffiness or hipster cool. Just calm, content luxury. Group vice-president George Fleck eloquently described it as the DNA of the brand. But it is the attention to detail from general manager Pierre-Henri Perrin and his team that sets this place apart.
Worth getting out of bed for
Turn one way and you have the Louvre. Turn the other and there is every designer label shop you could dream of. But instead head straight to lead navigator Marie-Paul, who will take you off the beaten path. The defining concept of this hotel is delivering unscripted travel experiences, an invitation to discover something unexpected, from underground art and Paris bike experiences to wine and cheese tours.
Renaissance hosts a Global Day of Discovery to create surprising, enjoyable memories away from the norm, hosted by the hotel Navigators who are plugged into the undiscovered city to reveal what they call “grit and glamour”. And it should be a must in every travel calendar. In Paris at Vendôme, it may include an unforgettable night of dining in a transformed L’Eclaireur,
the concept store complete with unicorn, lunch at the historic Legrand Filles et Fils, or even a tour from The New Paris author Lindsey Tramuta.
The surprise with this hotel is just how truly individual it really is, with a new discovery around every corner. If you can, ask for the Parisian Corner suite for some extra je ne sais quoi. The world’s best paintings hang nearby in the Louvre. But if hotels were a work of art, then a new Renaissance movement might just have been born.
Rates for Renaissance Paris Vendôme Hotel, 4 Rue du Mont Thabor, Paris, 75001, start from €389 (£342) a night. For more information and reservations, visit www.renhotels.com