Divine hospitality at the Shangri-La

Written by Debbi K. Kickham

If you and your family have ever dreamed of enjoying the ultimate Paris hotel – even if only for one night – you must, must, must consider the Shangri-La Hotel Paris. 

The former residence of Prince Roland Bonaparte  (the grand-nephew of Napoleon) the palatial property features a Louis XIV façade and an interior resembling Versailles. It’s nestled in the refined, residential 16th arrondissement, just a short walk from the famed Champs-Élysées and a wealth of museums. The hotel will enchant you with its we-will-wow-you world of marble (and more marble), silk, crystal, Murano glass, gold accents, oil portraits in gilded frames and bouquets of fresh flowers. Ooo la la! With such gorgeousness everywhere, it’s no surprise that at least three times a week, sophisticated boyfriends bring their girlfriends to the hotel for the singlehanded purpose of proposing marriage in such a magical and magnificent setting  — typically with a rose-petal turndown service and special heart-shaped pastries.

My 98-year-old mom, my sister Chris and myself were happily ensconced — in a glorious suite here, with outdoor terrace — where you could practically reach out and touch the Eiffel Tower. Fully equipped with every modern luxury known to man — including a TV screen inset into the bathroom mirror, a desk filled with business necessities and (thankfully) a European converter and the hotel’s signature Bulgari White Tea amenities — The Shangri-La Paris is the type of place that will fulfill your headiest dreams of traveling first-class. Or better yet, like a millionaire.

The Shangri-La ensures a flawless stay, based on its core Asian principles of humility, respect, courteousness, generosity and sincerity.

The architectural treasure — which dates from 1896 and is a registered historic monument — now offers 101 rooms, including 36 suites. One of the grandest, the Chaillot (10,000 Euros per night or approximately $11,250) resembles a posh apartment more than a hotel room. Then there’s the Suite Shangri-La on the seventh floor, featuring a huge balcony with stunning views from bohemian Montmartre to historic Trocadéro.

There are many factors in The Shangri-La Paris’ claim to fame, but in my humble opinion, it’s the unbelievable 58-Euro ($65) breakfast that always leaves my jaw dropping with awe and delight.  First, you’re seated in La Bauhinia, so named for the iconic flower that graces the Hong Kong flag.  (Part of the orchid family, the five-petal flower is also a reference to Prince Roland Bonaparte’s passion for botany as illustrated by his herbarium,  the world’s largest, which included more than 2.5 million specimens. )  A stunningly beautiful restaurant, La Bauhinia features an Eiffel-inspired steel-and-glass cupola that lets in natural light.

All the better to see and savor breakfast. It starts with an amuse bouche. (When was the last time you had one of those for breakfast?) Ours was a bircher muesli made with cream and featuring a berry topping. In a word, scrumptious. I ordered dry-scrambled eggs (no oil or butter, as I was saving my calories for a chocolate croissant). Our menu also included a basket of pastries and fresh-made ginger-and-carrot juice. All were divine. What really takes the cake is the “crown” of berries — I never before in my life have seen strawberries, raspberries and blueberries sculpted in such a special manner. The Ciflorette strawberries were like eating perfume. Maitre’ d Julian also recommended that we try the pain perdu, French toast, and it was amazing. Light, fluffy, delicious, this mix of mere milk, egg, butter and stale bread was so yummy to add maple syrup would have been superfluous.

The hotel also features a gourmet wellness breakfast called B-Green, following the success of its “100-percent green dinners” and the “100-percent vegan afternoon tea” that it launched in mid-2015. This delicious specialty breakfast  (68 Euros or $77) is without gluten or lactose.  It starts with cold-pressed green juice of cucumber, green apples, lemon and peppermint, followed by organic chestnut, quinoa or buckwheat crispbread. Other goodies include superfood jams (such as black bean with carob), buckwheat muesli with macadamia nuts and an avocado and crispy vegetable carpaccio.

And if its health you’re after, let yourself be inspired by the hotel’s magnificent Chi, The Spa, which recently partnered with The Organic Pharmacy, a well-being brand from England.  The spa is an oasis of relaxation and harmony in the heart of Paris, with a refined ambiance that is a combination of subtle Asian calm and French elegance. The 49-foot-long pool is a haven of health and bathed in natural light.

It still amazes me that as much as this hotel is impressive, it’s just as unpretentious. The staffers are more than friendly and professional and always eager to please and meet every request.  (Their smiles are as big as France itself.) I can’t wait to return to such an opulent atmosphere, and I’m not the only one. Upon leaving the hotel, my mother remarked to me, “Next time we’re in Paris, we’re not staying anywhere else.”

For more, visit shangri-la.com/paris/shangrila/.

Debbi K. Kickham is author of the travel bestseller, “The Globetrotter’s Get-Gorgeous Guide,” and is former editor of Robb Report Magazine. For more, visit GorgeousGlobetrotter.com.

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