Three nights and one organic lunch later our first five-star experience in Paris has come to a close.
Paris, like New York or London, has always been prohibitively expensive especially when it came down to getting a hotel room. I can’t recall ever staying in a luxury hotel in any of these cities with the exception of Christmas 2019 in London, and even then it wasn’t in a top of the line property, but rather a boutique hotel in Shoreditch that had loads of character. The best I think I stayed in in Manhattan was a Crown Plaza, and in the many times I’ve visited Paris for fun or work all were in varying shades of mediocre gray, surely nothing to write home about.
Things have changed a bit these past two years, with the few holiday breaks we’ve taken in comparison with pre-pandemic times, quality has definitely overtaken quantity, and going a step above what would usually call for practicality has become the norm. With caution thrown into the wind and the lure of walking around fancy-free in the 1st arrondissement appealing, we stayed at the very respectable Grand Hotel near the Palais Royal just across the Louvre. Of course we got the cheapest room.
The quarters were as to be expected small, with a decent-sized bathroom and, at check-in, upgraded to a room with a balcony view of Sacre Coeur Basilica (from afar). Modern fixtures with classic touches, it’s not the Ritz but it’s also far from a Crown Plaza. Set in a beautiful building along Rue St Honoré, the check-in staff was nice as was the welcome bubbly that soothed my nerves after a rough drive through the 18th district – probably the least attractive part of the city – and maneuvering the streets with less than agreeable delivery van drivers. The clincher though was how well we slept, and luckily the bed was just right – some firmer pillows would have been good but it got the job done. Proximity to the Louvre was unbeatable, which made our 9 a.m. entry appointment easy-peasy, and choosing where to eat out ended up being a good problem given all the decent places nearby.
Would I stay there again if and when we’re back in Paris – probably not, since I’d be too curious about trying other places. But would I recommend it to curious friends or family – completely and without a doubt. Any hotel that can make an off-menu cosmopolitan and/or hot chocolate on demand deserves to be rewarded with more than thanks. Merry Christmas in Paris indeed.