This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.
It must be a sign of the times that the first squeal of delight the Ho?tel Daniel inspires in MrsSmith is uttered when she hears the news that it offers complimentary WiFi. Being a Eurostar regular with a vintage couture business straddling London and Paris, madame is always looking for romantic little hotels where she can happily mix work with pleasure (otherwise known as Mr Smith).
In this respect, the Daniel is a classic example of that hotel discovery you really don’t want to tell anyone about. (Well, there are only 26 rooms, including the seven suites, and it would be very tiresome if friends of friends snapped them all up.) On a calm and well-heeled street of the 8e?me arrondissement, the hotel occupies six floors, two of which offer rooms with balconies. The Lebanese proprietors, who also own the elegant Hotel Albergo in Beirut, have designed it with great panache to target a refined clientele; we are charmed by the intelligent service, as well as by the luxurious attention to decorative detail.
The Daniel’s interiors were created by London-based designer Tarfa Salam, and offer a sumptuous blaze of fanciful fabrics, oriental carpets and luxurious furnishings – a mood of tasteful exuberance that proves instantly uplifting. Talking of which, the lift that takes us to our fifth-floor Paris Suite, lined with colourful hand-painted wallpaper by de Gournay, has to be one of the most inviting in Europe.
Our room is as charming as the inside of a sewing box, with billowing curtains in old gold and jade-green wallpaper painted with blossoms. This is an exception, though, as the Daniel’s rooms are generally decked out with 18th-century-style toile de Jouy, which might feature Chinese kite-fliers, swirling ferns, exotic tropical trees or picturesque expeditions by elephant. (If you fancy a snug green boudoir, or rich red walls decorated with whimsical images suggesting dalliance, it’s worth mentioning your preferences on booking, since every room is very different.) The Eastern theme continues with bamboo-framed desks, inlaid tables, intriguing curios and butterfly-covered lamps. The bed sheets feel as smooth as cream, and other fine touches in our suite include decent-sized dressing gowns, air-conditioning you can understand, and an iPod.
Within minutes, a welcome pot of green tea arrives, along with willow-pattern cups and a plateful of colourful macaroons from Ladure?e. Mrs Smith purrs with approval. Here, at last, is a hotel both classy and feminine, but which also appeals to Mr Smith’s decadent side. (And his finickety side: the bathroom comes with a big jar of Dead Sea bath salts and a full-length mirror, and the wardrobe shelves come lined with broderie-anglaise runners.)
Now that we’re bien installe?, it’s time to enjoy the City of Light. Stepping out, we find the Daniel surrounded by inviting restaurants that range from simple bistros to the super-smart and stately Apicius, just across the street. Walk south and you hit the grand and congested runway of the Champs-Elyse?es. Head northwards and there’s the oh-so-Paris Parc Monceau, its benches filled with
fine-grained mothers, nannies and enfants. Our preference, though, is to stroll east along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore?, which gradually builds to a frenzy of window-shopping delights. First up is gourmet food emporium Dalloyau; then comes the newly expanded Ho?tel Le Bristol; followed by a parade of famous fashion houses.
As it’s a Wednesday, we take advantage of the late-night opening of the Louvre, heading straight for the sculptures in the little-visited galleries devoted to the arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Mrs Smith pre-booked dinner at nearby Le Fumoir, an untouristy restaurant with colonial trappings and a cosy library at the back. Afterwards, French taxis being the most useless in the world, we whizz back by Me?tro.
Breakfast the next morning is delivered to our room on a white-linened trolley, a harmonious still life of coffee, newspaper and delicious, what-the-hell pastries. Mrs Smith has work to do that day, and when her Parisian business partner walks into the Daniel’s lounge, which brims with plush cushions, chinoiserie trimmings and gorgeous orchids, she can’t help but cry ‘Ooh la? la?!’ It’s the ideal setting to discuss their new website over an open Mac and a glass of chilled champagne, while Mr Smith gets a few of his own work-related errands in the bag before lunch.
The restaurant at the Daniel is small and intimate, with silky banquettes and wall cabinets filled with dainty coloured glasses. It works equally well whether you’re there for a high-powered business meeting or a sexy assignation. We’re visiting in high summer, but agree that the Daniel beckons as an appealing wintry love-nest and earmark it for a return trip. The next day, our request for a late check-out is instantly granted, and when our breakfast order is delayed owing to an oversight, relevant charges are immediately waived. This is a hotel that genuinely cares about the time you spend within its exotically decorated walls – whether you’re checking in with a laptop, a lover, or maybe both.