My recent trip to Paris was a series of ‘firsts’. To begin with, it was my first trip to Paris in 20 years; it was my first trip on Eurostar; and it was my first time to be so distracted at breakfast that I could barely eat my croissant.
I could be forgiven for the latter, as I was in the most beautiful restaurant I had ever seen in my life, and not far away was a table of well-known celebrities enjoying their morning coffee. Plus, I was still swooning from the effect of having stepped out onto my hotel room balcony just moments before, to be faced with the most stunning view of the Eiffel Tower – so close I could almost touch it.
Paris has seen an explosion in uber-luxury hotels over the past few years, both new and total transformations of old favourites – all engaged in a battle of one-upmanship, with every opening raising the bar, only for the next to raise it even higher. In 2014, the Plaza Athénée was closed for 11 months for a complete refurbishment and extension into two neighbouring period buildings. As a huge fan of the Dorchester Collection, which has owned the hotel since 2001, I couldn’t wait for what the Plaza Athénée had in store.
So what to expect from an iconic hotel in one of the most glamorous, exciting cities in the world? Exceptional location (le Triangle d’Or, credit cards beware); unsurpassed comfort (that bed!); world-class service (delivered with signature Dorchester Collection warmth and professionalism and Parisian panache); extraordinary cuisine from one of the most illustrious chefs in the world; a deep reverence for wine; and a fascinating and rich heritage (step forward, Monsieur Dior!). All in all, the essence of the city runs through every vein, wrapped up in a picture-perfect dream of a Parisian building, breathtaking decor and a magical sprinkling of glamour. The Plaza Athénée delivers all of this in spades. And then some.
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