It’s easy to fall in love with Paris over and over again when staying at the opulent, luxury Parisian hotel – once private home to Napolean Bonaparte’s nephew, Prince Roland – the Shangri-La Paris.
We were ushered out of Gare du Nord station to the waiting car that cut through the heaving Parisian streets, passing along the Seine near the Eiffel Tower and into the tree-lined Avenue d’Iéna. It’s a journey within a journey. Scenes of busy Parisian life reflected in our window played out like a silent movie, and we were so awestruck that we just sunk back into the car seat and watched, mesmerised.
As we walked through the red and white checkered marble entrance of the Shangri-La Paris, our gazes were immediately drawn to the circular lobby where a grand staircase twirls up, and an avalanche of natural light cascades down through the glass roof of one of the hotel’s restaurants, La Bauhinia. A heavenly bespoke scent glided in the air, gently whispering that we had indeed arrived.
Of the 91 Shangri-La hotels and resorts in over 22 countries, Shangri-La Paris holds its own for the weight of its historic significance. Even in a city that continues to seduce generation after generation of OutThere travellers, with renowned museums and monuments, this hotel is a landmark on its own. We were always surrounded by some kind of opulence: the Napoleonic bee emblem, gold leaf gilding, statement chandeliers or enormous marble fireplaces.
Listed with the French institution Monuments Historiques, the Shangri-La Paris was once the private residence of Prince Roland Bonaparte, the grand-nephew of the Emperor of the French and military commander Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte Jr. handpicked this specific spot in the 16th arrondissement to call home in 1891 for its strategic location between the Eiffel Tower and the Seine at the heart of Paris. Architect Ernest Janty, responsible for the reconstruction of the Louvre and Tuileries palaces, designed the space as a place for the prince to welcome notable guests; a tradition that Shangri-La Paris has upheld since it acquired the building in 2006.
Our Paris Panoramic Signature Room, as the name suggests, had breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower (and what seemed like the whole of Paris) from its wraparound terrace, not to mention the king-sized bed and even the bath. The Parisian apartment style of the room had all the gilded glamour of this former palace, brought into focus with the unmistakable Shangri-La touch of making any space feel like home. Thoughtful details such as sparkling water (not still, as requested), ample walk-in closet space and Guerlain amenities elevated this luxury far higher and in a more personalised way than we expected. The decor was opulent but timeless, fusing European and Asian aesthetics cleverly. Shades of soft blue, white and ecru accented with gold, silk-threaded wallpaper, crystal hardware and custom furniture exemplified Shangri-La’s Asian heritage and French art de vivre.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
The hotel’s location between Place du Trocadero on Chaillot Hill, across the Seine facing the Eiffel Tower, has the highest concentration of museums in Europe, imploring guests in residence to explore the surrounding area by foot. For a truly Shangri-La Paris sense of place, we recommend The Guimet Museum, home to Paris’s most extensive permanent collection of Asian art. Palais Galliera, Palais de Tokyo, the Museum of Modern Art and the Marmottan Monet Museum are all nearby.
Alternatively, put a cherry on your visit with a trip to the beautiful Guerlain Boutique on the Champs-Elysées. It dates back to 1914 and was also the very first beauty salon in the world. Visitors flock to this flagship store for a chance to experience its history. The space has retained many of its original architectural features and combines modern pieces such as Philippe Starck chandeliers. You can see the entire range of perfumes and cosmetics here which includes the rarest scents in Guerlain’s collection. Treat yourself to a personalised perfume in an iconic bee bottle or even book in for a tailored massage at Institut Guerlain. You’re in Paris after all!
Shangri-La Paris has 100 rooms in total, which includes 37 suites. 40% of the rooms and 60% of the suites offer direct views of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine – so make sure you request a room with a view if you want one – and almost half the rooms and suites have a private balcony. The Duplex Suites and Apartments here are breathtaking. One in particular, the former private apartment of Prince Bonaparte is itself listed as a historical monument – separately from the building – complete with sixteen-feet high ceilings, a living room and a private dining area for six guests. And in a show of what the Shangri-La’s owners can and will do for its guests, one of these suites has widened doorways to accommodate wheelchair users. How they got around the historical protection rules, we don’t know!
Back in the public spaces, a tranquil urban swimming pool takes up the space that was Prince Bonaparte’s stables. After a quiet dip and a blissful massage at Chi, The Spa, we sauntered outside to the recliners on a green terrace, where the combination of the soft sunlight caressing our skin, the serenity afforded by the massage followed by warm sips of herbal tea eased us into an afternoon of rest.
At Shang Palace – where Hong Kong’s own Chef Samuel Lee heads up France’s only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant – an unforgettable Cantonese fine-dining experience awaited. We pledged there and then that we would return here to eat, on future visits to the city.
In La Bauhinia, the hotel’s refined French dining offering, the current, youngest Executive Chef of the Parisian Palaces, Quentin Testart, offers a seafood menu of sublime tuna caviar, lobster French toast, monkfish and cockles. Desserts and teatime are the forte of pastry chef Maxence Barbot, who delivered all the classics with the greatest flair: light-as-air pastries, quiffed meringues and delicate cakes topped with seasonal ingredients.
Something we didn’t have the chance to experience, but have earmarked for our next visit, is the hotel’s signature ‘Bonaparte Dinner’. In the spirit of the elegant events hosted by the Bonaparte family, Shangri-La Paris has revived the art, history and splendour of 19th-century Parisian high society in a sumptuous banquet and experiential dining journey. Guests first enjoy an aperitif on the terrace, overlooking the illuminated Eiffel Tower, followed by dinner in the adjoining Grand Salon, Salle à Manger and Salon de Famille.
We adored the property… but will say that its price point (at all levels) reflects its exclusivity. Yet, the exceptional standards of hospitality and service offered by the Shangri-La Paris make it a standout choice in the French capital.
Photography courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
Demi travelled from London to Paris by Eurostar in just over two hours. In Business Premier class, she appreciated the fast-track check-in and the relaxed atmosphere over breakfast in the lounge in St. Pancras. On board, she enjoyed the cold-pressed fruit juice with croissants and eggs served for breakfast (yes, her second breakfast!) and the knowledge (a little-known fact) that the menu onboard was created by Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc.
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