Sunday, 28 October 2018

Hotel Review: Shangri-La, Paris.

I've been to Paris many, many times over the years and stayed in a mix of hotels and friends' apartments whilst in the city. However it had been almost three years since I last stayed overnight in Paris, as last time I went in 2017 I did a 'one day in Paris' trip. The Shangri-La Paris had long been on my radar, mostly because I've been staying at the hotels reasonably regularly for the past twenty years (and I'm only 27, so the majority of my life), but also because it's well-known to be one of the best luxury hotels in France's capital. From start to finish our stay was everything I had dreamed of and more, and I'm so excited to tell you about our stay!

We arrived midday Saturday and were instantly in awe of the architecture and beautiful interiors. The staff showed us into a little parlour room where we could drink tea and nibble on French croissants, financiers, and mini chocolates, while we waited to be checked in. This was really lovely and made us feel instantly relaxed and at-ease after a rather stressful flight. We took in our surroundings and planned what we wanted to do for the rest of the afternoon, and were honestly just a little overwhelmed by how beautiful the hotel was.

The hotel is an old mansion built in 1899 for Prince Roland Bonaparte, and was restored by Shangri-La back in 2010 and turned into a hotel. They've lovingly restored it and kept many of the original features, but of course the signature Shangri-La scent fills your nostrils as soon as you enter, and instantly reminded me that I was 'home', so to speak. The little parlour rooms and the grand staircase were my favourite aspects, as well as the huge subterranean swimming pool in the old stables!

After finishing our tea and pastries we were shown up to our Eiffel Tower View Room on the 6th floor. I was slightly disappointed at first as the room was really modern with low ceilings and wide but short windows, and I'd been SO looking forward to staying in one of the older styled rooms with the beautiful floor-to-ceiling french windows and historical features, but. Then I saw the view. And then I also saw the view from the bathroom. And my jaw dropped and I may have squealed.

The room itself may not have been particularly photogenic, but the view certainly was! We poured glasses of Veuve Clicquot, toasted to our adventure, and nibbled on gold-leaf covered macarons whilst staring at the Eiffel Tower. We were unmistakably in Paris.

My Australian best friend and I had been dreaming of this trip for almost eleven years, and now it was finally coming true. Eleven years ago we were sat in the school playground planning our Europe trip, and writing out lists of clothes we would take, cities we would visit, and how much budget we would need for train fares and hostels. We were 17 and had waitressing jobs, and just wanted to finish school so we could travel.

Life and university got in the way, but eleven years later we've both built up our careers and dreams, and we finally got to visit Paris together. But instead of staying in a hostel, we were in one of the most luxurious hotels in Paris eating macarons covered in gold. It was a surreal and emotional 'pinch-me' moment, and we may have teared up a little.

The room itself had everything you could possibly need, including a huge walk-in-wardrobe, a gigantic bed, and a bathroom filled with amenities should have have forgotten your toothbrush, toothpaste, or even a razor.

After investigating the room we headed down to the pool and spa for a relaxing half hour before hitting the city. There isn't much of a spa at the hotel, there's just the huge swimming pool, and then a sauna in the women's changing rooms. We were a little disappointed there wasn't a steam room, but we just spent some extra time in the sauna instead.

Whilst staying at the hotel we were also lucky enough to dine at their Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant, Shang Palace. You may have seen the evening on my Instagram stories, but essentially we ate so much that we had to abandon our plans to go bar-crawling in Montmatre, and go straight to bed afterward to sleep! The head chef kindly put together a tasting menu for us, and my goodness everything was just incredible. Our absolute favourites though were actually two of the starter dishes; the Red-rice flour rolls with shrimp, and Fried eggplant glazed with gravy, sesame, and ginger.

As well as Shang Palace the hotel also have a two-Michelin starred restaurant, and the more relaxed breakfast room where a huge buffet breakfast is laid out. I was really impressed with the breakfast and it was actually one of the best hotel breakfasts I've ever had. They also do a la carte, and so the first morning I chose an omelette (which was literally the most perfect omelette I have ever had in my life), and the second morning I opted for the french toast (which I decorated with berries and apricot jam and greek yoghurt from the buffet).

Service-wise every member of staff we had contact with was incredible. They went above and beyond during our entire stay, and made us feel so welcome. Caitlin was devastated when we left and said they made her feel like she was part of a family they were all just so friendly, and both of us agreed that one day we will go back there and stay longer, as two nights just didn't feel like enough!

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