Maybe, it’s the two languid white Birman cats Fa-raon (French for pharaoh) and his queen Kleopatre (translation not required) who soften the chic world of Le Hotel Bristol in Paris, creating a universe that is at once tres elegant and easy for living. They call Fa-raon the “Palace Pasha,” since he seems to believe he owns the place. Sometimes, he blends into the marble floors so beautifully that you are startled when he rolls from one side to another, indicating he is not a propr, but very much alive and stretching.
A few days at Le Hotel Bristol in Paris recently was like returning to friends after being away too long. As many of our clients know, the hotel, rated tops in class is one of the more charming 5-Stars located near the epicenter of Parisian shopping at 112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. 112 in the 8th. Compared to the last time I stayed there more than 20 years ago, the entrance hustles and the street bustles even more than I remembered. Of course, that is true for Paris, in general. Does Paris own the world, or does the world own Paris?
As for attitude, that’s where Le Hotel Bristol shines. Although traditionally French in decor, in contrast to the snooty stereotypes, the tone here evokes being part of a family – albeit a glamorous one. If you’re “in,” you’re in. And if you’re smart enough to stay here, obviously, you are “in.” One of the few truly luxury brands still owned by a family, the Oetkers, this beautiful former palace considers it a very personal event when you visit whereby you, as a traveler, automatically demonstrate superb taste by selecting this address.
Unlike some of the other hotels on the 5-star scene in Paris pushing the edge on contemporary, Le Bristol remains true to its traditional French style even after a renovation a few years ago. The white marble entryway sweeps open to the beautiful reception area that used to be the “bar” and is now referred to as Le Jardin. Iced silver bowls filled with chilling champagne beckon.
You can see the famous Bristol garden, a rarity among Parisian hotels, through the window and barely glimpse the painting of Marie Antoinette on the right wall.
The new spot for cocktails and conversation is Le Bar. It is packed during the cocktail hour. Crystal chandeliers sparkle gentle light over plush leather and leopard-print chairs. A nod to contemporary art on the video wall behind the barrister adds a smart touch. Next to the famous Bristol garden, it’s my favorite place to hang out.
The garden is popular for obvious reasons. Where else in the middle of Paris can you relax in such graceful beauty without a zillion people crowding you?
My only regret is that I had no good reason this trip to host a party in the oval-shaped ballroom, Salon-Castellane, a historically preserved remnant of centuries past. The room, which is smack dab in the middle of the hotel, is used for exhibitions, small parties, and elegant dinners. It was once the Count Castellane’s private theater. The hotel has two Michelin restaurants, but I was just happy as Madeline curled up with a glass of champagne in Le Bar or enjoying the fountains in Le Jardin. Heaven.