What’s New In… Paris, France

by Richard Nahem

Even though I’ve lived in Paris for 11 years and have access to new things all the time, the thrill isn’t gone.

Even with the advent of Airbnb, luxury hoteliers have not been deterred from opening new hotels and updating elder ones. From classic five star hotels to hip concept hotels to boutique hotels in non-touristy neighborhoods catering to millennials, Paris has never offered such an eclectic range of accommodations.

Nestled behind the Champs-Élysées near the Élysees Palace, La Reserve Paris Hotel (42 Avenue Gabriel, Tel. +33-1-5836-6060. www.lareserve-ramatuelle.com) is the ultimate in decadent elegance. Owner Michel Reybier, who also has hotels in Geneva and the South of France, aims to please and wants his guests to feel like they are in a home away from home, rather than a formal hotel.

The lobby has the feel of being in a salon of a Paris apartment from the late 19th century, decorated in sumptuous silk, velvet, brocade, dark polished wood, and satin fringe just in the right places. Other comfortable public rooms on the same floor, including a library and game room, tea salon, and a cigar lounge, further give the feel of being in a chic Parisian home. Decorated by Jacques Garcia, one of the most respected interior designers of France, the décor is unabashedly, unmistakably, 100% Parisian.

The rooms, which are mostly suites, are decorated in a more masculine style different from the main floor flourishes and feature Carrera marble bathrooms with freestanding bathtubs wrapped in stainless steel, a formal writing desk, brocade covered walls, and Burgundy-wine colored sofas.

In one of the prettiest new dining rooms in the city, and a divine outdoor terrace festooned with manicured shrubs, Chef Jerome Banctel, formerly of Hôtel de Crillon restaurant, delivers an ambitious menu of contemporary French food.

If you want to turn back the hands of time, La Reserve has the exclusive Nescens spa, the only location in France. The Swissowned Nescens is anti-aging center headed by Jacques Proust at the Clinique de Genollier Switzerland. Sophisticated facial treatments and massages are completely personalized. The spa also includes a 50-foot pool, steam room, and fitness area with optional personal trainers.

Where did Proust take sulfur baths, Joy Division record an album, Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat party, Saint Laurent host his after runway bashes, and Phillippe Starck get his start? Les Bains Douches (Les Bains Paris 7 rue du Bourg l’Abbé, Tel. +33-4277-0707. www.lesbains-paris.com). This legendary hotspot, a former 19th-century bathhouse, was part disco, club, performance space, and restaurant. Opened in 1978, Les Bains Douches was the Studio 54 of the continent, an international showplace attracting the likes of Jack Nicholson, Naomi Campbell, Catherine Deneuve, Grace Jones, David Bowie, and Kate Moss.

Bar Nuit

Bar Nuit

Running its course of disco and hard partying days, Les Bains Douches closed in 2010. Early in 2016 the space was reimagined for the future, but retaining some of its storied past. It now is a club/restaurant/hotel.

The 39 rooms designed by Tristan Auer, a rising talent recently named one of the tenbest interior designers of tomorrow by Architectural Digest, are a blast from the past with replica sofas of Andy Warhol’s Factory, rugs inspired by Serge Gainsbourg, and Joy Division album covers. The five junior and two full-sized suites are equipped with private hammams.

The restaurant, La Salle à Manger pays homage to the original black-and-white checkered dance floor designed by Philippe Starck by replacing it with two million micro-tiles. Consultant Chef Philippe Labbé and Chef Michael Riss have put together an eclectic menu with locally sourced products.

Other spaces in the complex include the former water tank, Le Reservoir, which has been converted into a private dining space for 12 guests, Le Salon Chinois, a cozy boudoir for afternoon tea, Les Bains Guerbois, the pool and spa, Le Club, a private concert hall and music venue, and Le Salon Secret, a five-room apartment suite with a private elevator.

There’s probably no better definition of old world luxury than the Ritz Paris (15 Place Vendôme, Tel: +331431-63030. www.ritzparis.com). Opened in 1898 by Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz, it was the first hotel in Paris to have en suite bathrooms, electricity, and telephones in each room. It quickly attracted a guest list of royalty, presidents, prime ministers, film stars, fashion designers, and writers (Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel were longtime residents).

Unfortunately, the aging grande dame shuttered in 2012 for a four-year-plus headto-toe makeover to the tune of 450 million euros. New York–based French architect and interior designer Thierry W. Despont was assigned the tall task of renovating the entire hotel without changing its essence and old world glamour.

Reopened in June 2016, the renovation appeared almost seamless. The hotel has retained most of the furnishings and décor, with either original pieces restored or faithful reproductions.

The Ritz Paris now features 142 rooms and a series of newly themed suites including the Maria Callas, F . Scott Fitzgerald, Mozart, Proust, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The Hemingway Bar is virtually untouched, and world-renowned chef barman Colin Field conjures up smart new cocktails to celebrate the reopening, including a bloody mary where the client chooses their own seasonal tomatoes that go into their drink.

The storied spa and pool where social hostess Pamela Harriman swam her daily laps has been remodeled and is now the first Chanel spa in the world with two stories and seven treatment rooms exclusively using Chanel beauty and skincare products.

For a personal tour of the best of Paris, you can book a tour with Richard Nahem at www.eyepreferparistours.com.

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