The Ritz Paris

FROM PARIS: Cool and crisp winter days in Paris, who can complain about a working visit to the City of Light? A few years since my last stay, the cobblestone streets are familiar, the gorgeous architecture and skyline never change; unlike New York or San Francisco, and now even London, where glassy green high rise buildings compete with each other for a sliver of space. Baron Haussmann, the supreme civic planner under Napoleon, ravaged and rebuilt Paris for years perfecting the wide avenues, planting thousands of trees, creating an unrivaled beautiful city. The exchange rate has bounced dramatically, but for all the glamour, elegance, divine restaurants, marvelous museums, what other city compares with Paris?

Ultimately, what matters the most, is what you do once you reach your destination.

And with the recent refurbishing and reopening of Ritz Paris, I was thrilled to visit and enjoy the posh elegant Ritz once again. From the exterior, it is exactly the same, wonderful for those of us who like tradition and continuity. Hard to notice, but the entrance has been widened and is spanned with upper windows which floods airy light into the mezzanine and its now 18-foot high ceilings.

Although modern touches have been added, the historic classically elegant interiors pop with fresh pale spring accents with the original cream dominated color scheme. A good amount of the original classical Empire furniture and furnishings were refurbished, the massive crystal chandeliers sparkle, new mirror television technology has been added, touch pad to manage ac, lights, drapes, all at the stroke of a finger.

Coco Chanel Suite Ritz Paris

Coco Chanel Suite Ritz Paris

Of course, I was dying to see the newly redone suites including the Coco Chanel Suite. Original Imperial Suite and the Prestige Suites have been dedicated to former residents, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Maria Callas. I wasn’t disappointed with the Chanel suite; it is decorated in pale taupe with black accents, an elegant simplicity, just as we remember Ms. Chanel, who resided here from 1937-71. Imagine, the stories these walls could share. A guest book would list Marcel Proust, the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, Ernest Hemingway, who claimed he liberated the hotel after the Second World War. Using the bar as a base, he did write here and make it a home, the bar was named after him in 1994; the famous Ritz barman, Colin Field, who is almost as well known as Hemingway, took it on to procure Hemingway’s original letters on Ritz letterhead to his then wife.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote in a letter to his friend, “When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz.” We could all share the same sentiment.

Reducing the number of rooms allowed for larger bathrooms, keeping the gilded swan taps and the maid and valet call pulls near the tub. The Ritz claims they invented the massive gilt switch that turns off all suite lights, and that remains as a nod to the past.

The infamous gilded swan handles Ritz Paris

Tub Assistance- just in case you need your Maid or Valet! Ritz Paris

A few new additions, Salon Proust a beautiful room intended for afternoon tea or a guest library. Of course madelines de Proust are served as well as billberry tarts and other savories. The once lovely garden café has been topped with an arched glass roof, providing a comfy light filled place for afternoon tea and lunch. The garden has been expanded just off the café and it resembles a small Ritz park, more than two dozen linden trees, personally these trees remind me most of Parisian streets. In summer the garden flourishes with beds of blooming white roses and walls of climbing ivy.

Salon Proust Ritz Paris

Chanel Spa Ritz Paris

Chanel Spa Ritz Paris

Also new is the stunning Chanel Spa – Oh my, it is the perfect embodiment of Chanel. Classic, clean lines punctuated by dramatic pops of black glass.

The Piscine retained the beautiful turquoise mosaic in a newly designed stunning Art Deco style, it is breathtaking and a oasis of calm.

Piscine Ritz Paris

My Sweet Suite Ritz Paris

Ritz Paris

The Ritz was always known for mastering the fine art of luxury and the Grande Dame debut is very reassuring – everything has changed, but nothing has changed!

 

 

La Réserve, Paris

Traditional Parisian Opulence is practiced at La Réserve on Avenue Gabriel, a block from the Champs-Elysées, with encompassing grand views of the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais. An admitted Francophile, it’s natural for me to swoon over palatial Parisian hotels. However, my ‘there is a perfect hotel for each traveler’ philosophy allows me to recognize a sophisticated dramatic property and perhaps a less decorated, yet still charming Parisian hotel, discovering the perfect property for each and every client…

La Réserve Paris

Originally constructed in this Haussmann style neighborhood, in 1854 for Charles de Mornay, the half brother of Napoleon III, the boutique property is a sumptuous pleaser in every way. The last owner, Pierre Cardin may have set the tone, however the inspired renovation by Jacques Garcia is a vision of a particular period and ambience. Its origins as a home truly set the mood, if your home is a dramatic Parisian Salon and includes an indoor pool and spa. On a winter day, I would suggest a stay in day, tote an engrossing book and mosey from the library to a decadent lunch in the charming restaurant Le Gabriel, scoot back to the roaring fire in the main salon or the library. An afternoon espresso, the French have incorporated massive amounts of coffee into their lifestyle, will liven you up for a short saunter to the spa for a traditional hamam and deep tissue massage before cocktails and dinner! A delectable decadent, off the grid day, as one might have enjoyed in another era, do indulge.

Soaking tub La Reserve Paris

The details in the 26 suites and 14 rooms are authentic and mesmerizing: bold colors, acres of fine silk drape the windows and in some rooms, the walls. A dramatic palette of white, gold and black and red in many of the suites and rooms instill a restful ambience. I felt cocooned in my massive suite – velvet covered sofas, a sleek glass bar outfitted with fine crystal and complimentary drinks and snacks, triple glass floor to ceiling windows  swathed by silk or heavy velvet drapes, ensure the city noise remains outside, layers of elegance. The bathrooms are worthy of their own photo shoot, mountains of white and grey Carerra marble covers the floor, the vanities and the massive soaking tubs – tubs to die for. Stand alone showers with several shower heads, really these massive sized bathrooms could host a small group! If you prefer a lighter touch, say grey or pale champagne tones, do state a room preference, as not everyone loves decadent dark tones. The rooms all glow and are warm and inviting.

I should mention the very comfortable beds; the mattress is topped with feathers and down pillows, and all covered with custom Italian Quagliotti linens. At turn down, besides slippers, a puffy floor mat is placed next to the side of your bed. I never knew I needed a pillowed mat, but now I know, a very special touch. Modern technology has been combined with the old world glamour. Use the Ipad to control all conveniences or a simple toggle switch to turn off the lighting; I love less complication in shutting off lighting in a hotel. Another mention, my jumble of travel cosmetics sprawled out on any surface with the best light, were tidily organized when I went out; however, one very thoughtful staff person upgraded my makeup remover with a new bottle from the spa, La Roche-Posay micellar water, from what I’ve been told, it is the latest chic product..details do matter!

La Réserve Paris bedroom

The public rooms are ornate and exquisitely decorated in layers of traditional French fabrics and antiques. Intimate in scale, the sumptuous dark wood and book lined library and the smoking/cigar bar are available only to hotel guests. A fireplace burns in the library and in front of a petite table for two adjacent to the stunning dining room. Summer dining can be enjoyed alfresco on the terrace off the breakfast room and library. Indoor dining is intimate and once seated in the oversize cushioned chairs, one feels compelled to tarry.  Tables are arranged salon style with overstuffed sofas and exquisitely upholstered neoclassic bergere chairs, tres inviitng. The snug bar sparkles at night, although it’s not large enough to host many outsiders, small tables are surrounded by comfy chairs, this is not a crowded stand up bar scene. Perfect for hotel guests to savor fine wines and traditional cocktails, lingering encouraged!

Le Bar La Réserve Paris

Library, La Réserve Paris

Le Grande Salon La Réserve Paris

Chef Jérôme Banctel

I’ve published my brief interview with the charming and cuisine passionate Chef Jérôme Banctel who helms the two Michelin Stars Restaurant Le Gabriel. Extraordinary imaginative dishes, combined with delicate technique, the menu offers authentic French dining displaying the particular flair of the chef. Allow hours to savor lunch or dinner; this is an experience not to be rushed. Restaurant Le Gabriel is romantic and elegant adorned in black lacquered furnishings, delicate gold trimmed walls and mirrors – you will feel as if you have stepped into a romantic French film. http://www.gwenbooks.com/2017/01/executive-chef-jerome-banctel-la-reserve-travel-tales/

Also on property is La Pagode de Cos with a spice-route themed menu. In tribute to Cos d’Estournel, Second Grand cru classé, owned by hotel proprietor Michel Reybier, La Pagode de Cos invites you to on a culinary spice route journey. Since its beginnings, Cos d’Estournel wine surpassed the ratings of the most prestigious vintages and was exported as far afield as India. Its founder, Louis Gaspard d’Estournel became the “Maharaja of Saint-Estèphe” and to celebrate his far-off conquests, he had exotic pagodas built over his cellars.

There’s more! Le Réserve Spa is a bold statement in glossy red detail, located downstairs in a whisper quiet environment. Forget weather, stress, fatigue and even what time it is… let go and recharge your batteries with vital energy in an intimate hushed haven, sheltered from the hustle and bustle outside.

Set around the 16-meter indoor pool are just three treatment rooms, a fitness area with a sports coach, creating a peaceful atmosphere where one is relieved of pressure and can succumb to a complete disconnect from the daily grind. Men are not forgotten, with a range of services indispensable to modern-day gentlemen.

Le Spa La Réserve Paris

La Réserve Paris spa offers Nescens-Swiss anti-aging science cosmetic products. An oasis of calm and serenity awaits you in the Spa.

La Réserve Library Paris

La Réserve Paris

La Réserve Paris

Heavenly corner at Le Gabriel – La Réserve Paris

Our clients are spoiled, upgraded, and are repeat guests, what else would you need to know?

My French is sorely lacking, however I can advise you Oui, La Reserve, J’adore!