Pretend you’re a Belle Époque emperor at ravishing La Réserve Hotel and Spa Paris, housed in a handsome Haussmann mansion originally built for the Duc de Morny, Napoléon III’s half brother. Given the hotel’s history, nobody should utter ‘quelle surprise’ on account of its regal feel and furnishings. (We’re talking silk-clad walls, gem-bright splashes of ruby and emerald, velvet drapes, herringbone oak parquet, priceless antiques, damascene brocade, taffeta and bathrooms kitted out in Carrara and Turquin blue marble.) The central-Paris location, blissful spa (with a sizeable pool), butler service and two-Michelin-starred restaurant don’t exactly dent the aristocratic fantasy, either...
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £735.97 (€860), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €5.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually exclude breakfast (pick from Continental and American options, from €41 a person). Minibar soft drinks are on the house.
Each room and suite boasts the services of a brilliant personal butler. Guests can also request private yoga, Pilates or training sessions in the fitness centre (for an extra cost, natch).
At the hotel
Library; smoking lounge; spa with indoor pool, three treatment rooms and a hammam; fitness centre; honesty bar; patio garden; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: on-loan iPad; Playstation 4; Nespresso coffee-maker; TV; DVD player; iPod dock; desk; minibar; La Réserve bath products. Suites have mini ‘wine cellars’.
Our favourite rooms
The Imperial Suite is particularly gawp-worthy: its fifth-floor location yields ravishing views of the Eiffel Tower, the glass roof of the Grand Palais and Notre-Dame’s steeple from the private balcony; decor riffs on a Napoléonic theme, with sartorial flourishes including black lacquer, gold filigree, precious inlays and Damascene silk brocade wall hangings, embellished with medallion motifs.
Unusually for Paris, the hotel has an indoor pool, one large enough for laps, too: it’s attached to the spa, shielded from sight by strategically placed ruby-red cushions.
Who says time waits for no man? It does at La Belle Réserve’s spa, whose focus is on anti-aging. Treatments champion Nescens-Swiss products developed at the Centre for the Prevention of Aging at the Clinique de Genolier (Switzerland) by Professor Jacques Proust, a wizard/pioneer in anti-aging medicine. Unwind in one of three treatment rooms, clustered around the pool. Indulgent packages ensure pampering for men and women, whether you're looking to detox, relax or refine. There’s also a little fitness centre.
Bring outfits – and swimwear – worthy of an emperor’s eyes.
The Prestige Junior Suites have been adapted for wheelchair-users. If you like the hotel’s style, check out its sisters: La Réserve Paris Apartments and La Réserve Ramatuelle.
Diminutive doggies weighing in at 10kg or less can come too, for €50 a night. You might want to train them in the art of restrained tail-wagging pre-arrival, due to La Réserve’s stash of priceless antiques… Just let the hotel know when booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Paris.
Little Smiths on their best behaviour and capable of entertaining themselves (carefully: #antiques) can come, but this is a very grown-up getaway. Cots (free) can be added to all rooms and extra beds (€100-150 a night) to some suites on request.
This hotel has a conscience: light-bulbs are energy-efficient; cleaning products are earth-kind; everything that can be recycled is.
There are no duds in this bunch; sit by the window at Restaurant Le Gabriel, by your favourite antique at La Pagode de Cos.
The emperor’s new clothes. Gents: don a jacket for Le Gabriel.
Any Parisian hotel restaurant has to work pretty hard to keep you from the city’s bistros. La Réserve Paris has two not-so-secret weapons on its side, both courtesy of acclaimed chef Jérôme Banctel: the double-Michelin-starred Le Gabriel and spice-loving La Pagode de Cos. Opt for Le Gabriel’s tasting menu for a thorough introduction to whiz-bang seasonal French cuisine; dishes that have previously knocked diners’ metaphorical socks off include line-caught mackerel cooked over cedar and served with caviar, blue lobster with sweet-onion carbonara and coffee, and suckling pig with mango, curry sauce and avocado. Take your tastebuds on a tour of the spice route at La Pagode de Cos (don’t miss the steamed scallops served with lemongrass soup).
Sip fine wines, champagne or creative cocktails (a cucumber fizz or gin and rice libation, perhaps) at Le Bar, a vampy space designed for liaisons dangereuses or otherwise. If you get peckish, order petites bouchées (light bites); truffled croque-monsieur or miso-salmon sashimi, perhaps… The hotel also has one of the most impressive honesty bars we've laid our eyes on – the mirrored room has pedestals topped with decanters of fine liqueurs, fridges filled with soft drinks, and bottles of fine wines. Owner Michel Reybier has acquired several vineyards in prominent wine regions; however, the Cos d’Estournel red from his Bordeaux plot, is said to be the stand-out sipper.
The restaurants close around 10.30pm; Le Bar whets whistles until 1am. The honesty bar in the library means you can stay refreshed as late as you like.
Napoléon never went hungry; nor shall you at La Réserve Paris, thanks to the hotel’s room service: order breakfast to your room between 7am and 11pm; nibble delicacies between 11am and 10.30pm; pick nocturnal treats from a night menu, on offer between 10.
La Réserve Paris occupies a regal perch in the elegant 8th arrondissement, a short stroll from some of the city’s biggest draw cards, including the Champs-Élysées, the Grand Palais, the Eiffel Tower, the Pantheon, the Concorde obelisk and more.
France’s main international airport, Charles de Gaulle (aka Roissy) is 33 kilometres away, an hour’s drive. Hotel transfers (in a Mercedes E-Class, if you don’t mind) cost €175 a person. You can also fly into Paris Orly Airport, 20 kilometres away.
Gare du Nord station is a half-hour drive from the hotel, connecting Paris to London, Brussels, Amsterdam and other European hot spots thanks to the Eurostar. You can also catch SNCF services to a host of French destinations.
The hotel has on-site parking spaces for guests (€45 daily).
Worth getting out of bed for
Broaden your cultural horizons at the Grand Palais on Avenue du Général Eisenhower. Check the museum’s website for regular events, concerts and performances. Take a romantic stroll in France’s most famous formal garden, Jardin des Tuileries, at 113 Rue de Rivoli. The gardens were re-landscaped in 1664 by King Louis XIV’s favourite gardener, André Le Nôtre; highlights include statues by Maillol, Rodin and Giacometti, two relaxing ponds and the Musée de l’Orangerie, south-west of Tuileries, where visitors can admire the works of Monet. Step back in time (to 19th-century Paris, to be precise) at the opulent Jacquemart André Museum on Boulevard Haussmann. The hôtel particulier (private mansion) was built by Henri Parent for the insanely wealthy André family: Edouard André and his artist wife, Nélie. Together, they amassed the collection of art and artefacts that guests can admire today. Back at boutique basecamp, try one of the spa’s pampering packages; La Belle Époque, for example, which includes a hammam session for two, two aromatherapy massages, a dip in the pool, two facials and either a champagne afternoon tea by the brilliant chef, or two champagne brunches. Oh là là…
Flottes at 2 Rue Cambon has an excellent set menu; stretch your legs at nearby Tuilieres after your meal. Just reading Chez Monsieur’s menu is enough to have you reaching for your passport; typical dishes include Burgundy snails cooked in garlic and butter, roasted scallops with truffle sauce, roast pork with chorizo, carrots and honey, and baked apple with vanilla, Breton shortbread and salted caramel. Le Clarence is set in a handsome townhouse on Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 75008, boasting a Christophe Pelé menu that showcases the Bordeaux wines of Domaine Clarence Dillon. Expect dazzling, inventive dishes worth dressing up for.
I'm not going to lie, while I was researching Paris’ La Reserve (the opulent 8th arrondissement home built for the hedonistic Duc de Morny), my expectations for staying there were quite high. So high in fact, that I was pretty sure that somehow, I'd be met with disappointment.
Well, I'm here to say that this was not the case. At all.
In fact, within about 10 minutes of arriving, my expectations were fully surpassed. It was, without a doubt, one of the best hotel experiences I’ve had in my entire life.
Personally, I'm much more drawn to hotels that make you feel at ease and at home. I love understated elegance, effortless service, beautiful interiors and attention to detail. La Reserve ticks all of these boxes and then some.
You feel completely at home immediately. There's not really a lobby – instead you enter into what feels like the most gorgeous living room you've ever seen. It’s flawless: slightly formal but cosy and intimate all at the same time, complete with a stone-carved, mirror-topped fireplace as its centrepiece.
We were greeted warmly, and introduced to Susannah, our butler, who would be there to help us with anything we needed during our stay.
The service at La Reserve, it’s safe to say, is some of the best I’ve ever experienced. You don’t even realize how good it is until you realise that every possible need has already been met. Seamless, basically.
We got a brief tour of the hotel – the double-Michelin-starred restaurant and its cute garden, the chic nightcap-perfect bar, the dreamy spa (where I later had the best massage of my life), and, my highlight, the library: a stunning green-velvet accented room with a fireplace and various private nooks where you could sit, have tea or cocktails, and read for hours on end.
The hotel’s Belle Époque swagger is evident throughout: herringbone-parquet flooring, marble fittings, priceless antiques, gem-bright pops of colour, busts of emperors, rich brocades and eye-wateringly expensive works of art line rooms and corridors.
I hadn't even seen my room yet and I was already madly in love.
The room, of course, did not disappoint – it felt like I’d walked into my dream Paris apartment. From the enormous windows through which that perfect Parisian light streamed, to the enormous marble bathtub where I could have stayed for about three days, not a single detail was left unnoticed. The French doors separating our bedroom from the living room made me feel a bit like royalty (a duchess, perhaps). Cold champagne and hot espressos waited for us by way of a greeting – the perfect combination to start a vacation.
The following day, we began our morning with breakfast in the garden, where I was so overwhelmed by the beautiful spreads I spotted at nearby tables, I completely over-ordered (can you blame me?). We sipped café au lait and tucked into the most delicious French pastries, breads and croissants, and perfectly cooked scrambled eggs with salmon.
Later that day, I sampled the spa. The staff were so attentive – basically tailoring the massage to my particular preferences in any way they could (hence my ‘Best Ever’ claim). Afterwards, I swam in the enormous pool, drank mint tea and snacked on fresh apricots. I left feeling more relaxed than I’ve been in a very, very long time.
If I had one complaint about this hotel it would be this: You go all the way to Paris to spend your days exploring the city, but, checking into La Reserve, you basically never want to leave. C’est la vie, I suppose…
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