Saint James Paris
- Style High-flying flamboyance
- Setting Erstwhile airfield
Saint James Paris has always had lofty ambitions: in previous lives it has been an intellectual boot-camp for budding French boffins, and site of the first ever hot-air balloon airfield. In its latest guise as colourful, cultured, country estate-style hotel, it’s still flying high.
Need to know
- Rooms 48, including 20 Junior Suites, 11 Suites and two Pavilions.
- Rates Double rooms from $393.64 (€286), excluding tax at 7 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.50 per person per night on check-out.
- More details Breakfast is extra: €28 for Continental; €35 for the buffet.
- Facilities Spa, gym, library, private dining rooms, gardens, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock and Lanvin bath products.
- Poolside No pool, but the spa has two steam rooms.
- Check–out 12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Children Little Smiths are welcome, too: baby cots are free, as are extra beds for under-12s; babysitting can be arranged with 24 hours’ notice (€20 an hour).
- Also Dogs are welcome (owners are charged €30). Smokers can light up in certain rooms. The mansion was originally built by the widow of French prime minister, Adolphe Thiers, to provide a learning centre for some of France’s most talented students.
In the know
- Our favourite rooms Our hearts lifted at the sight of room 204, a junior suite on the first floor. This two-level suite overlooks the grand entrance and the grounds, and has plenty of witty details, including a trompe l'oeil 'parquet' carpet and ‘library’, and a tweed armchair with elbow patches on its armrests. The bedroom feels more classically French, with its grey-and-white patterned wallpaper, although the bright red bedspread keeps things zingy. Room 303 is a calm white space with low pendant lights and a bed topped with an ornate white-and-cream bedspread.
- Packing tips Flying goggles and headscarf – should the hot-air balloons in the grounds decide to head skywards, you’ve come prepared. Alternatively: leopard-print scarves or stilettos and sexy smalls for your grand boudoir – it’d be a shame to let Bambi Sloane’s come-hither decor go to waste.
- Also French beauty brand Gemology (www.gemology.fr) chose the hotel as the site of its first spa. There are two Moroccan-influenced treatment and steam rooms, and products feature ingredients derived from precious stones. This is likely to be the only time you will use a gym with chandeliers and a parquet floor.
Food and drink at Saint James Paris
- Hotel restaurant Formerly, the restaurant was a dining room for the Thiers Foundation’s earnest students – erudite things have been said here. The feel is far from serious though, thanks to the flamboyant cosiness: leopard-print carpet, red-velvet chairs and banquettes, boxy glass vases stuffed with fresh flowers, and some important-looking types painted in oils and hanging from the walls. Expect gourmet French classics, cooked and served with panache; a focus on seasonal cuisine means a lighter menu is served in the summer months, including classic fare with a twist such as tartare of raw bass and passion fruit with vinaigrette and Folies de la Marquetterie champagne sauce.
- Dress code Turn to the native fashion giants – they deliver the visual theatre that this hotel deserves: think Yves Saint Laurent smoking jacket, chic Chanel monochromes, inky Christian Dior silks (monocle/cigarette holder optional).
- Top table As close as you can get to the French windows, whatever the weather – admire the gardens.
- Last orders Sit down for breakfast between 7am and 10am; lunch between 12.30pm and 2pm, and dine from 7.30pm ’til 10pm.
- Room service Light snacks and mains are available in-room around the clock.
- Hotel bar The bar is set in the library, which has 12,000 books. Walls are wood-panelled, chairs and books are encased in nut-brown leather, and there’s a spiral staircase to access the tomes. Lest this sounds earnest, look to the leopard-print carpet and baby grand piano. Sip a classic cocktail, or ask the barman for one of his secret signature muddles.