What is there to say about staying at The Shangri-La Paris? Really, there are no words that can accurately describe the pleasure it is to be a guest at this hotel. Obviously, for anyone who experiences travel in the luxury sector, Shangri-La is not an unfamiliar name. But, if your travels don’t take you to Asia often, you might not have had the pleasure of spending the night at one of their unique properties.
Firstly, the Chinese-based hotel group took years to find the permanent home for their highly anticipated Paris outpost. They finally landed on a mansion that was once the home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandson and his family. So, naturally, they bought it from the French government. After roughly thee years of meticulous renovations and restoration, the doors opened to the new Shangri-La. And, wow, did they do an amazing job.
Pulling up to the hotel, there is an immediate feeling of intimacy and privacy as the impressive building sits patiently behind black iron gates. Before the car can even set itself to park, your door is flung open and you are graciously welcomed with smiles and a helping hand to assist you with luggage, shopping bags and other odds and ends you may be carrying.
I checked-in around 1:00 pm and the staff didn’t bother taking my information at the front desk. Instead, they whisked me to my ground floor suite with a private garden overlooking the Eiffel Tower. I was impressed. My passport and credit card details were taken in the room and I was left to unpack my bags with a welcome of Evian water and a beautiful bowl of juicy Mandarin oranges.
As I walked around the hotel and experienced the grace and elegance of it over my two-night visit, I realized that the Shangri-La Group did a truly commendable job of marrying the past with the new and modern – in a seamless way. All the rooms, mine included, were outfitted with state-of-the-art electronics, digitally controlled temperature and lights, marble bathrooms with rain showers, walk-in closets and deep jacuzzi tubs for relaxation. The bathrooms are all equipped with Bulgari bathroom products in large sizes for your enjoyment.
The hotel hosts many events in it’s Versailles-esque rooms that once served as salons and living areas to the Bonaparte family. In fact, the original murals, woodwork, marble and engraved “B’s” still exist. Walking down the grand staircase from the top floor event spaces, you pass Chinese and French antiques and works of art. Continuing through, you notice Parisians and guests curled-up near a roaring fire over espresso, conversing about their day’s activities in the lounge. Just beyond is the bar where drinks are served throughout the day.
A few levels down from the lobby is Paris’ largest indoor swimming pool. Guests can lounge around and read, leisurely dipping in and out as they please. There’s also steam rooms and saunas to sweat-out all the fun you might have had the night before while out on the town. After enjoying the aquatic attractions, you can head back to your room and get cleaned-up in time to dine at Shang Palace – the Michelin starred Chinese restaurant on site. If Chinese is not your cup of tea, the hotel also offers La Bauhinia or L’Abeille for French gastronomic options.
If there’s one word that sticks in my head after my experience, it’s service. No request is too big or too small. The staff is ready to please you, in any way they can. And, to my liking, the service is very much Chinese-inspired. Understated. Unassuming. Available but not intrusive. You won’t be disappointed. I don’t know how anyone could come here and be disappointed. You have the Eiffel Tower and central Paris at your fingertips, the history of one of France’s most iconic families and all the panache that would come with the Shangri-La name. You can have it all, right here.