It is well known that the French take luxury seriously. So seriously that in 2010 the French Government created a new breed of luxury hotel: the ‘Palace’. Surpassing the style, service and outright decadence of a standard five-star hotel, each year the government awards just a handful of hotels this prestigious ‘Palace’ status. Le Bristol is one such hotel. Located in the heart of the well-heeled 8th arrondissement, Le Bristol has been welcoming guests since 1925. Awash with 18th century elegance, a La Prairie spa and no fewer than four Michelin stars, this historic hotel has truly earned its stripes.
With just 48 hours in the City of Lights there is no time to waste on mediocre fare. Luckily for us, Le Bristol is home to not one, but two of the best restaurants in Paris. Tripadvisor lists almost 12,000 restaurants in the city, but standing proud at number one was Epicure, Le Bristol’s three-Michelin-starred option. Overlooking the hotel’s ornate courtyard garden, the light and airy space is without doubt the capital’s hottest destination restaurant right now.
Close behind is 114 Faubourg, the hotel’s deluxe brasserie, headed up by Chef Eric Desbordes. Aiming for a younger audience than its starry-eyed sister restaurant, 114 offers a contemporary take on traditional French cuisine, in refreshingly unpretentious surrounds. I was blown away by a sensational artichoke soup with pan-seared foie gras and black truffle emulsion, while my partner raved about the encrusted duck pâté (nominated the world’s best pâté in 2011, no less).
For those looking to dine off-piste, Paul Chene’s is a restaurant to be reckoned with. Dating back to 1959, dining in this eccentric family-run restaurant is like stepping back in time and the menu is no exception… The goose was utterly sensational.
We were staying in a deluxe room in the hotel’s new wing. Despite being a recent addition, its high ceilings, elegant furnishings and floor-to-ceiling French windows ensured it fitted with the rest of the hotel’s grand style. Our gleaming marble bathroom was crammed with indulgent La Prairie products, the generous balcony overlooked the Eiffel Tower and, once we had torn ourselves away from our enormous bed, our immaculately turned out bell boy delivered us a breakfast of kings to enjoy at our leisure.
Who Goes There?
With a trail of awards and accolades to make even Brad Pitt blush, Le Bristol could be forgiven for emitting a pretentious air, yet despite maintaining an unwavering sense of occasion and grandeur, this historic hotel keeps evolving. The beauty of Le Bristol is that it fits around its guests—whether they are suited and booted professionals after a Michelin-starred lunch, trendy friends seeking out award-winning cocktails or care-free families taking in views of the Eiffel Tower from the rooftop pool!
Out & About:
Le Bristol’s central location makes it the perfect base for sightseeing and of course, shopping. Fashionistas will adore the designer shops fringing the iconic Champs Elysee and the nearby streets of the Marais, while those seeking out arts and culture should waste no time in heading to the countless nearby galleries and museums.
Our Eurostar tickets got us a cheeky 2-for-1 entry at the Musée d’Orsay, where we absorbed works by artists such as Monet and Van Gogh, before taking a stroll along the buzzy banks of the Seine for an unashamed money shot with the Eiffel Tower.
After a tiring day of sightseeing the hotel’s La Prairie spa is the perfect place to recharge your batteries before dinner—the world-class facials are a must!
The Worst Thing:
While appreciating that palatial quality comes at a cost, we found it hard to justify €9 for an apple, or €19 for a hot chocolate—even if it is delivered by a gleaming bellboy in a white starched suit and crisp bow tie.
The Best Thing:
From the warm welcome at reception and the faultless service at dinner to the promptness and politeness of the room service team, Le Bristol’s friendly and knowledgeable staff work like a well-oiled machine.