Inarguably, the location of the Mandarin Oriental Paris is exceptional. The hotel is situated on Rue Saint-Honoré, one of the oldest streets in the city, which is dotted with 17th and 18th century mansions. The street is home to upscale boutiques and rows of fashion houses with recognizable names: Hermes, Gucci, Longchamps, Chanel, Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo and more.
If you can make it past the lure of the shops without stepping inside – and avoid the distractions of the small side streets lined with inviting bars, bistros, and bakeries – it’s only a short walk from the hotel to The Louvre, Place de la Concorde, The Tuileries Gardens, and the metro station at Place Vendome.
Fairly new, the hotel opened in June 2011. Its architectural team preserved the façade of three contiguous buildings from the 1930s to create an eight-story oasis in the heart of the city with 138 rooms and suites. As you enter the intimate lobby (once the site of one of the demolished buildings), you notice the lush, flower-filled garden area at its center, a perfect spot to dine on a spring or summer evening or to pause for a relaxing cocktail during the day.
The feeling of the stone, lacquer, and gold leaf lobby is serene; check-in is gracious and efficient without being stuffy.
Our room, Number 408, was spacious, even quite large by European standards, with approximately 400- square-feet. The oversized and soundproofed windows allowed in lots of natural light and faced the Rue Saint-Honoré, which gave me the feeling of being seated on a fashion catwalk as I watched the vibrant street scene with beautifully attired people walking past with their shopping bags. (Guests also rave about the peacefulness of the interior rooms facing the garden, some of which have balconies.)
When you enter your room,you feel as if you are residing in a luxury Paris apartment. Instead of room numbers being placed on the doors, they are etched into the marble threshold at your feet. The sensuous color scheme includes shades of ecru, tan, gray and plum with interesting silk and taffeta textured fabrics. The rich cherry furniture has contrasting beige leather accents on the drawers. The Art Deco and Asian-inspired décor is clean, contemporary and refined.
The ultra-modern bathroom is divided into two areas (one on each side of the entry foyer), each with sliding glass doors. On the right, are his and her sinks with beautiful hardware and ample shelf space, flanking a large wall of built-in closets. On the left side, are a stall shower, tub, and separate toilet compartment; the shower has a fog-free mirror and rainforest showerhead.
The extra amenities are lovely, including Diptyque toiletries, Frette robes, and flat irons (which should be at all luxury hotels!). A velvet-lined jewelry case is thoughtfully tucked in the safe.
If you are a geek or otherwise addicted to technology, it is always a pleasant surprise to find a handy Technology Box in your room (I had previously seen one at the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona). Inside are all the adapters and chargers one can possibly require.
The Bang & Olufsen flat-screen TV system is mounted on a motorized bracket that comes out for viewing and otherwise fits snugly in the wall. There is also an iPod dock and a convenient Nespresso coffee machine in the room; the light controls operate like magic from the very comfortable bed.
The Mandarin Oriental Paris is a foodie paradise. Thierry Marx, the celebrity French chef known for his skills with molecular gastronomy oversees food and beverages. Marx has been called a “French chef with an Asian heart.”
Camelia is the informal, all-day restaurant that attracts many locals with its 45-minute, 45-Euro menu. Here, food looks like art, and the tastes of fresh, simple ingredients are blended into spectacular dishes that please the palate. The restaurant is located adjacent to the hotel cake shop, which beautifully packages amazing pastries, macarons and croissants for take-out.
Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx is the gourmet Michelin-starred restaurant that seats only 40 patrons at a time. White tables with silver speckled cloths are separated into cozy alcoves with draped white chef’s aprons decorating the walls. The seasonal menus are printed on Japanese rice paper and the light, flavorful, and creative dishes are served on white and gold French porcelain. We had a 6-course tasting menu for 150 Euros per person (the presentation of each plate a whimsical surprise) that included leeks and snails with fresh herbs, lobster white miso, and milk-fed lamb from the Pyrenees with sweet potato.
Also located off the main lobby, Bar 8 offers comfortable indoor and outdoor seating and is furnished in warm browns and blacks. The dramatic, nine-ton solid marble bar was quarried in Spain and sculpted in Italy.
We had one lunch at Camelia and one dinner at Sur Mesure and were wowed by the menus, presentations of the plates, and the unique tastes we experienced.
A whirlwind weekend in Paris before embarking on a barge trip in Burgundy didn’t allow enough time for me to check out the spa and fitness center at the Mandarin Oriental Paris. Still, I left fantasizing about living in a centrally located apartment in Paris with the same décor and layout as my hotel room.
The service was pitch-perfect; it seemed as if everyone we encountered had graduated from Mandarin Oriental charm school. In fact, our home away from home was so comfortable that it was hard to think about leaving it for hours at a time as we explored the rest of the beautiful city that also left us wanting.
Checkout was as effortless as check-in except for paying the bill. Paris is an expensive city and five-star hotels like this one are costly but a very special indulgence, one that should be on every midlifer’s bucket list.
IF YOU GO
251 Rue Saint-Honoré (In the 1st Arrondissement, Paris) 1- 800- 526- 6566
*Rates start at 945 Euros per night, but vary based on room accommodations and season.