Fall in Love with Paris… Again.
The manager of the Shangrila Hotel in Paris, invited me to stay the night since I was passing through on my way back from Nice.
The hotel is actually a former palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte. The minute you drive to the front door, you feel as if you are entering a private chateau, rather than a hotel.
Then lobby is breathtaking, white marble, ornate details. Royalty, indeed.
In most Shangrila Hotels you don’t stand in line to check in. They sat me in the palor, gave me a cappacino and checked me in by the fireplace. Which was quite cozy on this cold November day.
The manager came to greet me and escort me to my room. How charming!
The Room with a View
‘I have something special for you,’ he said, as we climbed into the ornate elevator. I expected maybe a nice bottle of champagne. Maybe a suite. Ooh Lah Lah, how exciting!
What I didn’t expect was a two floor suite leading downstairs to 12 foot high double French doors open to a balcony, with a bucket of champagne on ice. And to top it off, there I was, staring at a jaw dropping view of the Eiffel tower!
I gasped, it was literally that impressive. I covered my mouth and tears started to fall down my cheeks.
‘Oh my gosh,’ I said, ‘I am so sorry. But it’s unbelievable!’
I looked up at the manager and he was smiling, a bit of pride in his grin.
‘Don’t worry,’ he said kindly, ‘It happens to everyone.’ Then he handed me a tissue.
Now that’s luxury.
Of all the experiences in my life, 50 years of travel, the Eiffel Tower view from the Shangrila is definitely one of the best moments in my life.
I spent the next hour sipping my champagne and shooting tons of pictures uploading to my social media pages. Best check-in of the year, guaranteed.
CHI, the spa, lives up to it’s name. Taking on a hint of Asian colonial feel, it is also very quiet and peaceful. Excellent service, nice robes, nice sandals, white walls, pale blue accents. The treatment I had was one of the best massages in my life. I sampled the Rose Renewal Body Ritual. It combines rose, jasmine, ylang ylang and rose hip for a very nourishing and rejuvenating treatment. Then add an infusion of honey, rose petals, salt and sugar exfoliation followed by a deep massage.
After my treatment I could barely walk, so they escorted me to the gorgeous pool where I rested and regained my composure in a chaise lounge while drinking tea. Pure heaven.
Of course I was famished after all that relaxation, so I scheduled a nice dinner at their Two Michelin Star restaurant L’Abeille.
But before my table was ready, I decided to stop in the La Bar Botanisye bar and try a signature cocktail.
What a treat. Another, comfortable, relaxing experience as the staff made me once again feel like I was at home.
I purused the menu, where they invent signature cocktails of the day. I chose the Absinth cocktail to pay tribute to my favorite French artists and of course to see the sugar cube lit on fire.
It was a citrusy light taste to smooth out the bitter absynth. Quite unlike anything I ever tasted.
The maitre de came to fetch me when it was time for dinner. I was really thinking I am a real life princess at this point.
L’Abeille, the two michelin star restaurant, pays homage to Napoleon’s favourite emblem, the bee.
The decor is very 18th century France, beautiful and comfortable.
The five course meal was served to me alone by three handsome young French waiters. Lucky me, right?
It was off season and cold, so the restaurant was fairly empty.
That gave me a chance to chat with one of the waiters. He was in school studying and we talked about France and how it can be so fancy and very complicated.
‘Why do the French make everything so complicated?’ I joked.
‘You know. Love!’ he shrugged before his colleague dragged him off to another table. I think my heart skipped a beat.
Of course, Love! Ah, mon amour Paris!
I could hardly stuff another bite of food in my mouth, but I couldn’t bear to turn down the homemade chocolates. These amazing treats are made by one of the finest chefs in Paris.
It arrives in a honeycomb shape with flecks of gold. The bee theme comes full circle.
The best part of the night was my three young, gorgeous waiters watching me take my first bite.
Complete and utter bliss is the only way I can explain that chocolate. I tried to control the expression on my face but they all broke out into satisfied smiles. Yes, they win. Best chocolates on the planet.
‘That should be illegal’ I laughed. They chuckled and moved onto the next table so I could enjoy the rest of the decadent chocolate in private.
On the way out of the restaurant, as I headed back up to my room, the three waiters greeted me like I was royalty in a receiving line, thanked me, shook my hand, then passed me a take away package of more homemade chocolates!
I watched the sunset from my balconey, thinking how rare it was to see this amazing view.
Then as if it couldn’t get any better, when darkness fell, the Eiffel Tower lights came on and I nearly fainted.
Every bad thing that every happened to me in my life, every friend who ever betrayed me, every man who ever broke my heart melted away in that glorious moment staring up at the most magical view I had ever had the pleasure to witness.
As my Mom says, ‘Life is good.’
After the lights flashed and made dancing patterns a few times, I decided it was time for a nice long hot bath, which was in a nice big porcelain tub and they even make sure you have some bath salts.
After a fabulous soak, I put on the plush robe and lay in the bed fit for a queen.
We book a lot of honeymooners in this hotel. Now I know why.
Cuddled up in my robe, I could still see the Eiffel tower from my bed.
Paradise. And yes, pure Love!
Even though I had to catch a limo for an early flight the next morning (a Sunday) the manager was waiting for me to say goodbye. He made sure I got to my car safely with a nice cappacino to go. I hugged him like he was an old friend.
‘You came here early on a Sunday to see me off?’ I smiled warmly. ‘That is so amazing!’
He smiled back, ‘That’s how we are here. Like family.’
In truth I did feel like I was leaving my family behind. Like I stayed at a friend’s estate and not a hotel.
‘It was such an amazing stay!’ I told him, hugging and thanking all of them.
As I settled into the back of the limo, I waved goodbye to the Manager and his staff, who smiled and waved back.
As we headed away from my beloved Paris and off to the airport, I couldn’t hold back a few tears falling from the corners of my eyes.
Thanks to one perfect day at the Shangrila, after all these years, I felt for the first time I really understood Paris.
Au revoir et Merci!