When it comes to extraordinary hotels in Paris the standards are very high, a city known for its chic style, rich history and world class service. The Shangri-La Hotel Paris has all three charms and more. It is no surprise that the hotel was awarded the Palace Distinction – the highest designation possible in France.
Shangri-La Paris is Shangri-La’s first property in Europe bringing with it their legendary Asian hospitality, combined with being housed in the historical landmark that was once the former palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte, the great-nephew of the emperor Napoleon.
Put quite simply, Shangri-La Paris has THE best view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Located in the ever so chic residential district of 16th arrondissement, the hotel is perched comfortably on Chaillot Hill facing directly across from the Siene River and Eiffel Tower which is only a mere 500 metres away. Roland Bonaparte’s palace at 10 avenue d’Iéna is as swanky today with Paris’ stylish locals as it was over a century ago, leaving behind a trail for art lovers and intellectuals to enjoy the pleasure of being in the proximity of Europe’s highest concentration of world class museums such as The Palau’s de Tokyo, Musée d’Art Moderne, and Marmottan Monet Museum all within walking distance, with Iéna metro only steps from the hotel’s entrance.
First Impressions that last
Entering the white marble lobby, my senses was in awe from the smell of Shangri-La’s signature scents, the unmistakable aroma of vanilla, sandalwood and notes of light Bergamot instantly reminded me of home – Shangri-La The Shard, London. The lobby is just as glorious as the exterior, yet it holds a regal and intimate ambience as we were effortlessly checked in. Looking around you can see the Asian heritage is evident here from the moment you arrive, with two Ming Dynasty inspired vases gracing the entryway setting the tone for a harmonious blend of East meet Paris elegance.
Prince Bonaparte’s legacy is thoughtfully integrated into the design, with botany illustrations throughout the hotel. A reference to Roland Bonaparte’s interest in the natural world, a botanist who once owned Europe’s largest private plant collection of over 2 million species. Walking around you will find a perfectly groomed French garden in the inner courtyard, being elevated by Chaillot hill we are spoilt again by the incomparable backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. There are a few special guests in the French garden including an insect hotel to support the increasing loss of natural habitats, stimulate biodiversity and maintain ecological balance in the garden.
The Shangri-La Paris is committed to staying true to the building’s historic past, restoring the opulent staircase that leads to the function rooms, formerly the palace ballroom. Seeing the venue space for myself is truly a breath-taking sight, highlighting the remarkable empire style décor that transports you back in time to the Palace of Versailles.
Our Terrace Eiffel Tower Room – No. 509
Our Terrace Eiffel Tower Room: which the name suggests, is a room that comes with its own private terrace that stretches the whole length of our room and offers stunning views of the Eiffel Tower. We were warmly welcomed by a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne, macarons dusted in gold leaf, and a platter of exotic fruits. Spanning a total of 55sqm the room is spacious and well positioned, decorated in shades of egg-shell blue, white and ecru (French beige). Golden highlights and East Asian art helps maintain both that regal style and Shangri-La’s unique aesthetic.
The bed… oh là là! A super king-size bed using luxurious bedding, feather duvets and pillows, and Shangri-La’s famous mattress featuring patented body-contouring technology. The room also boasts an expansive walk-in-wardrobe, a full-size executive writing desk in dark sensual wood, and the small intricate details like a set of custom-made Shangri-La porcelain plates by Deshoulieres.
The marble bathroom offers a huge spa-like bathtub with plenty of bath salts and toiletries from the iconic French luxury skincare brand Guerlain to soak and indulge in. I was pleasantly surprised in the morning when I discovered the heated marble flooring and a towel warmer, impressed by the thought process in making sure every step within our stay here is as pleasurable as possible.
The French windows in both the bedroom and bathroom open out onto a terrace, complete with a small table and chairs allowing us to enjoy the sunrise and our morning coffee while taking in the unparalleled views of The Iron Lady. Being on the fifth-floor, the view across Paris includes other landmarks such as the twin tower of Notre Dame, the black skyscraper of Montparnasse, the golden dome of Elise Les Invalides, and far down the Seine River. It is surprisingly quiet up here, given we’re so close to the heart of the city, there is a private atmosphere overlooking the sprawling city. My favourite spot is the intimate window seat behind the writing desk where I could sit there for hours enjoying the serenity.
Those looking for something roomier, I suggest La Suite Shangri-La. We had a sneak peek inside the top floor suite, the beautifully decorated room spreads a total of 225sqm of luxurious living space and offers 100sqm of private terrace space with sweeping panoramic views across the city.
The Spa at Shangri-La Paris
CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Paris resides in the space that was once formerly the horse stables to the palace. Today the space has been transformed into a world-class oasis of opulence. The main attraction is the aquamarine blue heated 17m long indoor swimming pool, lined with inviting pool-beds. The spot is blessed by the abundance of natural lighting thanks to the enormous floor to ceiling glass windows that opens out onto the tranquil outdoor terrace, covered in leafy greenery it feels almost sub-tropical, it even has a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower peering over.
Subtle touches of luxury are discreetly dotted throughout, such as the sophisticated clock by the pool, which is from the world’s oldest luxury Swiss watch manufacturer, Blancpain. There is also a well-equipped gym that is open 24 hours.
As I was preparing for my spa treatment, I noticed the proudly displayed Forbes Travel Guide Award, verified as one of the finest properties in the world. With that in mind, my treatment began. I was having the CBD massage, the first of its kind for a Palace status hotel. I was intrigued by the anti-anxiety properties known from this kind of treatment. Using CBD infused sesame oil to massage my back and shoulders, as those have always been a problem area for me, I notice the tension within that area beginning to relax more than my usual traditional massages I’ve had before. My body and mind began to simultaneously unwind, putting my tense back and stressful thoughts into a calming and remedying state of peace.
Our dinner experience at Shangri-La Paris
Sabering of the Champagne
When staying at the Shangri-La Paris we recommend starting your evening in the lounge where you’ll get to watch the demonstration of the sabering of the champagne which happens every day at 7pm. Opening the bottle with a sharp blow with a sword is the iconic method known as “sabrer le champagne,” a homage to the technique used by Napoleon to celebrate victory.
Shang Palace – the only Michelin starred Chinese restaurant in France
Behind the grand wooden doors embellished with Asian artwork sits Shang Palace. This is one of the city’s favourite Chinese restaurants, offering us the experience of authentic Cantonese gastrostomy. Executive chef Samuel Lee is originally from Hong Kong and with years of experience working with Shangri-La in China, you can see the passion and expertise in the dishes prepared for us.
The menu is extensive, inspired by the vast culinary traditions of southeast China. We were assisted by the team, guiding us through the selections of dishes. Then appeared a carousel of gold-plated plates laden with vibrant colours and aromas. Our favourite was the marinated beef shank and tongue, displayed in twirl of thin slices topped with a generous portion of saffron. Served with a warm freshly cooked leek pancake, this is an incredible sensation of warm and cold that blends the flavours of the marinate effortlessly.
In Chinese culture, the duck is synonymous with bliss and fidelity, often attracting harmony and love. So, we had to try the famous Peking duck (so did everyone else in the restaurant), the first course of duck was expertly carved in front of us, the poultry’s beautifully roasted skin glistens as it was wrapped up in delicate rice-flour pancake with scallions, cucumber and a drizzle of plum sauce. The second course of duck was from the same duck, which was grounded into a mince like texture and garnished with pine nuts, scooped up and eaten inside a bed of iceberg lettuce.
Wine pairing is a must while dining at the Shang Palace and we told our sommelier to be as creative, bold and fun as possible. The selection brought out to us was superb but the most imaginative one that tested our tastes buds most was the St John Commandaria, a daring dessert wine from Cyprus that paired with the liquorice sweetness of our duck dishes.
Le Bar Botaniste
If you’re looking for a more intimate and cosy affair, head to Le Bar Botaniste, celebrating Roland Bonaparte’s favourite past time, incorporating rare botanical spirits and an atmosphere to match. There is a long list of creative cocktails. We shared a To Bee or Not to Bee, which comes in an ornate bee shaped glass, made from cognac, honeybush tea, and lemon.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant La Bauhinia, two floors of pure elegance showcasing light pastel green walls decorated with Hong Kong’s national flower namely Bauhinia, which romantically links back to Shangri-La’s Asian roots. The seating area is filled with enveloping plush deep-red chairs that circle around a three-tiered chandelier. The room was filled with natural lighting from the magnificent Eiffel-inspired steel and glass cupola.
The breakfast menu offers French and South-East Asian contemporary food so we recommend starting with the eggs Benedict, coming with smoked salmon (or ham) it is topped off with sprinkles of black truffles which adds to the aroma. An Asian specialty for breakfast is the wonton soup, stuffed with minced shrimp and vegetables. Don’t forget to order a basket of freshly baked pastries. On the second day, we enjoyed our breakfast from the comfort and privacy of our room on the balcony, taking in those Eiffel Tower views for a little longer.
Why Shangri-La Paris is special
This is the hotel where I wanted to live out my Paris fantasy with the best of Paris flawlessly merging into one. Famously described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by English author James Hilton, he describes Shangri-La as a mystical Himalayan, harmonious utopia that is the closest depiction of perfection, the word has become synonymous with an earthy paradise that is isolated from the outside world. After my stay at the Shangri-La Paris, I can understand why. The hotel is not only a gem within the brand’s portfolios of luxury hotels around the world, but also a gem in Paris.
To discover more, visit: shangri-la.com
All imagery courtesy of Shangri-La.
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Things to do near Shangri-La Paris
Le Relais Plaza Restaurant
Le Relais Plaza at Hôtel Plaza Athénée has been the place to see and to be seen since its grand opening in 1936. Sophia Loren, Naomi Campbell, and Richard Burton line the picture frames leading up to the entrance. One of the city’s last remaining Art Deco dining rooms, the atmosphere continues the spirit of the roaring 1930s. Now in the hands of Jean Imbert, the restaurant offers a short and savvy menu focusing on the French classics, taking inspiration from his grandmother and traditional cooking, adding how own innovative edge to the classics. When creating his menus, Jean Imbert is guided by three principles: authenticity, flavour and simplicity. We suggest ordering the foie gras terrine and Porto jelly for the table, a true classic. Other classic dishes not to be missed include a beef tartare and of course Jean’s Dauphinois potatoes. The mains are generously portioned so make sure you arrive hungry.
For the art lovers and intellectuals, the ultimate destination is the no doubt the Louvre, the world’s most iconic, greatest, and biggest art museum. The museum spans across a staggering 780,000 square feet of exhibition space, and with over 35,000 works on display, it is the world’s greatest collection of human civilisation. The most popular pieces that attract attracted approximately 9.6 million visitors, making it the most visited museum worldwide, includes are of course, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Winged Victor.
If you’re a designer shopper or just like to window shop the glossy stores, then the lists of designer shops and elite French brand names will set your heart racing. Paris’ Rue Saint-Honoré is where old world elegance and contemporary luxury meet. This 2km street is home to stunning architecture and one of the world’s most famous shopping Mecca. There is a style (or handbag) for everyone, whether is modern luxury streetwear (Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons, Isabel Marant, and Marni), or French couture houses (Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Saint-Laurent), for something more affordable head to Champ Elysée and prowl along the high-street shops, as there is something for every discerning shopper.