Newly-opened Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, is going to get the critics talking. Set in a magnificent former palace – once home of Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon’s grandnephew – it lies in the elegant 16th Arrondissement just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower (more of which later).
We knew we’d entered swanky hotel territory when we glimpsed the gleaming Aston Martin and Ferrari parked outside the enormous white façade. With a passing nod to the liveried doorman, trying to look like we at least owned a car, we entered the magical world of east meets west. For this Asian chain has only just started to dabble in European hotels and the effect is disorientating yet dazzling.
Greeted by petite Oriental staff in beautiful silk outfits in the vast lobby with marble floors, shimmering chandeliers and huge elaborate orchid floral displays, we were unsure whether to bow or say ‘Bonjour’.
Francophiles may not approve, but we say ‘pah’, because our suite turned out to be jaw-droppingly wonderful.
Stepping into the split-level Eiffel Duplex Terrace suite was a Pretty Woman moment; it was just so, well, posh. A wood-floor lounge, with complimentary bottle of wine and welcome tea on the coffee table, lay on the mezzanine; descending the stairs to reach the bedroom produced more oohs and ahhs as we took in the giant silk curtains and windows which run the length of the suite, the bed swathed in 50,000 thread count linen (ok, we made that bit up, but it was very soft) and the piece de resistance: a view of the Eiffel Tower that is spellbinding. Step onto your terrace, complete with sunloungers and table and chairs, and it’s like you could touch the iconic landmark, it’s that close; when it’s lit up at night, this has to be one of the most romantic spots in the city. Or, if your budget allows, there’s La Suite Shangri-la, a penthouse with 360-degree city views.
The splendour continues with supper in main restaurant La Bauhinia, a circular room in the heart of the hotel, which again manages to mix east and west to great effect, from the décor to the menu. Walls are delicately painted with oriental flowers, but a giant Murano glass chandelier hangs from the glass roof.
We found the menu to be one of the most unique we’d ever read – foie gras, Singapore fried noodles, duck terrine and chicken curry occupied the same page. Best described as world cuisine – you can each select dishes from Indonesia to France – it’s wonderfully presented and answers the tricky ‘what type of food should we eat tonight, dear’ conundrum, as you’ve got the whole world on your plate.
Shangri-La Hotel, Paris prices: Eiffel Duplex terrace from 4,965 euros (room only) per room per night, or lead-in price 750 euros per room per night.