Shangri-La may have originally been the earthly paradise featured in James Hilton’s novel, but these days the name is more likely to be associated with the elegant hotels created by one of the world’s most respected hotel companies. The Paris edition – the first of Shangri-La’s establishments in Europe – opened four years ago and is a triumph of modern luxury, rich history and superb location.
Indeed, situated in the elegant 16th arrondissement, it is so close to the Seine you can almost touch it, offers astounding views of the Eiffel Tower, and is positioned near many of the city’s foremost cultural attractions as well as some brilliant lesser-known museums, including Guimet Museum, Musée du Quai Branly, Palais de Tokyo and the Marmottan Monet Museum.
Today, Paris’s chic set flock to the hotel’s trendy bar and Michelin-starred restaurants. After all, this is the only hotel in France to boast two Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurants – L’Abeille and Shang Palace – a feat made all the more exceptional by the fact that this distinction comes less than one year after each restaurant’s opening. But in 1896 this building, the Belle Epoque Palais d’Iéna, was the private residence of Prince Roland Bonaparte (grandnephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, no less).
Elegantly restored by architect Richard Martinet, the Bonaparte family coat of arms – a lions’ heads and antlers – can still be seen in the stone façade, and the renovation is a testament to the building’s historical importance, with many features, such as the sweeping staircase, protected under France’s Monuments Historiques listing.
Meanwhile, the interiors – decorated by designer Pierre-Yves Rochon – offer more than a nod to the hotel brand’s Asian roots. The magnificent entrance of the hotel may be manned by top-hatted doormen on the outside, but they are countered by two giant Ming vases inside. And while rooms are, for the most part, a classic Empire-style “Parisian apartment”, there are significant Chinoiserie themes in wallpapers and furnishings.
Despite the history, the opulence, the grandeur – the astounding fact of the matter is that these features pale into insignificance in light of this hotel’s greatest feature. After all, they had me at the marbled bathroom, integrated television-in-the-mirror, heated floors, and biggest bed I’d ever seen… but draw back the curtains, and the view from our bedroom window will simply take your breath away – nothing less than the icon of Paris!
Having spent the morning visiting the Eiffel Tower, seeing it from our balcony – looking as though it could be in our back garden – was exhilarating
It may have top-notch credentials, yet the hotel still exudes a laidback atmosphere with none of the stuffiness often associated with five-star establishments. We visited on a weekend when there were families aplenty and children running about, yet the staff seemed unfazed by the noise and clatter of little feet running across the marble floors. Of course, they are accustomed to this delightful spectacle – with a children’s programme as well as child-minding and babysitting services, plus an enormous indoor pool (built into what was this mansion’s former stables), this is one five-star establishment that has much to offer families.
However, even better news is that you only need to swing wide the front door of this hotel and you’re privy to a host of Paris’s most child-friendly attractions: the wide green spaces and entertainments (the puppet theatre is a local kids’ favourite!) of the Champ de Mars – at the centre of which sits the Eiffel Tower; the Palais de Chaillot, where Paris’s Maritime Museum and Aquarium are located; Trocadero gardens, where a carousel will delight the youngest amongst your set; and the Rue Cler market streets with their flower shops, chocolate shops, patisseries and cafes.
Need I say more….. this hotel is the perfect place for those looking for first class service, exceptional dining, historic pedigree and amazing views! The only drawback is that I can guarantee you won’t want to leave!
Design Originally built as the residence of Roland Bonaparte (a grand-nephew of the man himself), the hotel’s public rooms retain regal grandeur — sky-high ceilings, hand-gilded panelling and neoclassical friezes. Despite the Shangri-La’s Asian roots, the designers behind the Shangri-La Paris have maintained a significant Parisian ambience. Many historical details have been carefully restored, and the result is one of understated elegance and beauty. The rich detail of the original architecture has been renewed while the interior finishes and furnishings clearly reflect Shangri-La’s Asian origins.
Rooms All 54 bedrooms and 27 suites come with complimentary wi-fi, a full-size writing desk, Nespresso machine, television and DVD, as well as marble bathrooms with deep bathtubs, walk-in showers, heated floors and a flatscreen television. Rooms range from 35 square metres to 57 square metres, while suites run from 55 square metres to the expansive 270 square metres of La Suite Impériale. Alternatively, you could opt for the 220 square metre La Suite Shangri-La, which also boasts the a panoramic 110 square metre balcony with the best views in town – the Eiffel Tower. Almost half the rooms boast balconies(and views of the Tower) , and many of the rooms and suites can be connected to another room to ensure enough space for the whole family.
Eating Dining at the hotel is a lavish experience. As well as boasting the French gastronomic restaurant L’Abeille – which has been awarded two Michelin stars – the hotel also hosts Shang Palace, famous for its Cantonese cuisine, with yet another Michelin star to its name. La Bauhinia is the hotel’s ‘casual’ dining space where a stunning glass ‘cupola’, designed by the renowned architect Maurice Gras, bathes the restaurant in light. If you have a little time à deux, then Le Bar has fabulous private lounges where you can enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine from the hotel’s extensive cellar.
Facilities There is a gym open 24 hours a day, which includes two cycling machines and treadmills, an elliptical trainer, stepper, Vario cardio-training machine (with integrated TV and Internet) and a multifunctional exercise machine. A personal coach is even available to help boost your workout (although I don’t think they are available 24 hours!). There is also a glorious 15×6 metres indoor pool with outdoor terrace and a wellness centre with steam showers and CARITA beauty treatment rooms.