If the speedy Eurostar is the invention du jour (London to Paris in just two hours), walking through Paris’ Shangri-La Hotel is like taking a fashionable stroll through history.
Built in 1896 as the home of Prince Bonaparte, the same year as The Eiffel Tower (which, incidentally, is visible in all its glory from most rooms), this listed building has authentic features aplenty – original parquet floors, marble pillars, stained glass windows and wrought iron/gold winding staircases. Look up and marvel at the huge, ornate chandeliers which adorn each and every room.
It took four years to respectfully renovate this property which opened in 2010 as a 100-room hotel with three lounges, three restaurants – one with two Michelin stars; the other with one – a fantastic bar offering killer cocktails and a stylish spa. It’s little wonder that an average of three proposals a week take place here.
What’s on offer
In contrast to the rest of the ornate, elegant hotel, Chi Spa is unfussy and fresh, with a palette of creams, whites and pale greens. Stark white orchids fill the air with a lovely scent reminiscent of Shangri-La’s Asian roots.
Push -1 on the ornate lift (even the lifts here are worthy of a snapshot) and zoom down to the Chi Spa which, despite being on the lower level, is still above ground.
Products from The Organic Pharmacy are on display in white and glass cabinets in the reception area, and there are four beautiful treatment rooms, one specifically for Thai massage.
While putting on your fluffy branded robe in the stylish changing rooms, hop into the petit steam room with its cream mosaic curved bench seating and let the scent of eucalyptus engulf you.
On a sunny day, you can see the sun dancing across the clear blue water of the 15-metre pool, which is housed in the old stables. Let the water settle and admire the tiled pattern at the bottom before looking up at the ‘sky’ painted on the ceiling. As pools go, it’s très chic.
After a swim, grab a towel, a tiny bottle of Evian and a magazine, and settle on one of several lie-flat loungers with green cushions. Or head outside to the sunken, decked terrace with its rattan tables and chairs, and enjoy more of those glorious Parisian views.
Tell us about the treatments
While admiring the quaint bird-print wallpaper in pastel shades, I was warmly greeted by my therapist, Camille, who showed me to the changing rooms and asked me to slip into a fluffy robe and complete a consultation form. I was then led to an extremely spacious treatment room in cool whites and greens, with a large shower in the corner.
Camille began my Signature Rose Crystal Facial (80 minutes, £220) with a relaxing back and shoulder massage, expertly finding the tension I carry on my left shoulder and
using her forearms to work it out.
She then turned her attention to my face with a fresh carrot and butter cleanser, which she wiped off with a hot cloth. The flower petal scrub that followed smelt sweet and felt sticky; Camille applied it using a patting motion to encourage my cheeks to flush with health.
Moving on to the more indulgent elements of the facial, Camille massaged a rose diamond cleansing milk into my skin, followed by a refreshing rose diamond toner which immediately tightened my skin – and smelt divine.
Camille applied a peel and massaged my arms and hands while it tingled away. She moved onto my feet with a foot massage that was so relaxing I found myself on the brink of sleep…
To finish, Camille dotted diamond serum around my eyes, and a rose night cream on my neck and face. My skin was visibly tauter and softer – this results driven treatment is worth every penny.
You can’t eat in The Chi Spa itself, but the hotel has plenty of options for a pre- or post-treatment dining. Opt for afternoon tea in one of the lounges, with open fires, parquet floors and huge chandeliers to marvel at, or try the lunch menu at one of three restaurants.
Make a beeline for L’Abeille (meaning bee), the hotel’s classic French restaurant with two Michelin stars, or head to Shang Palace, the only Chinese restaurant in France with a Michelin star. We dined that evening in the third option: La Bauhinia, a French/South East Asian fusion restaurant with a modern green light centrepiece and a grand piano.
Our starter of Tomatoes from The Farm was a fresh, colourful delight, with tangy cheese and a Bloody Mary sauce; a piece of art on a plate. We followed this with a shrimp Pad Thai which was one of the best we’ve tried outside of Thailand.
In the morning, shun the cooked breakfast and petit déjeuner the way the French do: with pots of hot coffee, glasses of freshly-squeezed juice and baskets full of hot, crunchy croissants and pain au chocolat.
Who would like it?
Who wouldn’t? Couples will adore the romantic views, foodies will love the restaurants and their Michelin-stars, and historians will fall in love with the story of the Shangri-La Paris.
An early evening swim – the pool is less busy around 6pm when the early evening sun makes beautiful patterns on the water.
The spa treatments – this may be a small spa but it’s gorgeously peaceful. Our facial was one of the best we’ve had with visible results guaranteed.
A drink in Le Bar Botaniste – in contrast to the rest of the hotel, this space is a botanist’s dream, with hanging plants and sofas adorned with zebra-print cushions.