Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal: Paris Luxury At Its Best
Paris is as famous for its over the top luxury hotels as it is for cultural attractions, romantic corners, and Berthillon ice cream, but not every deluxe hotel is itself famous. One of the City Of Light's most impressive places to stay is a small property in what is possibly the best location in town, just steps away from the art collections of the Louvre Museum, the theatrical productions of the Comédie Française, and the luxury boutiques of rue Saint-Honoré, but only those in the know are aware of its existence. Tranquil gardens and artisan shops under historic arcades are found just across the street at the Palais Royal, the Parisian landmark that lends its name to Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal.
Assuming a less pompous approach to luxury than some other properties in its class, Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal is not really all that grand in its French meaning. In fact, with only 68 rooms and suites, it is rather petit as hotels go, which makes for a much more intimate and personalised guest experience than can be had in a property with many more guests to accommodate. Grand in the English meaning are the decor, the service, the restaurant, the location, the view, and the unexpectedly quiet evenings in the centre of what is one of the largest cities in Europe. Situated on the not-busy rue de Valois that separates it from the Palais Royal, Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal is fronted by a royal palace and backed by a classic Haussmannien Parisian courtyard, properly known as Place de Valois. The Hôtel de Ville, the Centre Georges Pompidou, and the newly revitalised Les Halles shopping mall are all very close to the hotel.
Light and airy interiors by celebrated French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon bring the essence of Paris into the hotel's public and private areas, nowhere more so than the superb Suite Panoramique in which scenes of Paris are found on the white walls of this bright pied-à-terre that makes a perfect home away from home. The sixth-floor door to the Suite Panoramique looks like a normal door to a normal room...except on the other side of the door is not a room but a private lift lobby where the Suite's private lift takes you one level higher.
Once the glass door opens on the seventh floor, the spacious Suite Panoramique welcomes you with an entrance area, to the left of which is a dining area and desk; to the right is a living room leading to a bedroom and bathroom beyond. Both the living room and bedroom have glass doors to the private terrace. In a city where real estate is among the most expensive in the world, the luxury of a private terrace in the centre of the city cannot be overstated as a chic companion to the understated elegance of the Suite's interior. Guests who prefer to take breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the privacy of their own terrace can do so upon request and enjoy Paris on multiple levels at the same time.
More impressive than even the terrace's splendid views over the Palais Royal all the way to the Eiffel Tower is the surprising lack of noise in this part of the city in the evening. There are no residential buildings in the immediate vicinity, which means the terrace of the Suite Panoramique is well protected from neighbouring eyes. The French even have a term for this: sans vis-à-vis. Aside from a few lights in the offices of the Palais across the street, all at a lower level than the terrace, there is little sign of activity above street level.
Conveniently for Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal guests, one of the nicest restaurants in Paris is found on the premises. Le Lulli is the domain of highly experienced Executive Chef Jean-Baptiste Orieux, who brings his Michelin-starred expertise to Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal's discreet dining room and (in summer) outdoor terrace in the courtyard. Open for lunch and dinner, Le Lulli's menu presents an array of appealing dishes prepared, of course, with the freshest ingredients combined to create special culinary experiences. For light meals or just drinks, the Lounge Bar adjacent to the restaurant is a fashionable place for solid or liquid refreshment any time of day.
Indulging in sensory stimulation beyond the palate brings guests to another door in the hotel that gives little indication of the satisfaction waiting on the other side. Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal's in-house Carita Spa provides a range of massages and treatments certain to please even the most experienced spa aficionado, who will be further impressed by a beautiful steamroom unlike any other. While a spa treatment may be just the thing after a day's sightseeing, the Carita beauty salon is just the place to get ready for a night on the town.
Though indulgence is a running theme for visitors to Paris, where everything seems so delightfully excessive, one theme at Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal that works to avoid excess is sustainability. Embracing a green manner of operation is just as important to the hotel's management as ensuring smiles on the faces of its guests. The hotel does its utmost to provide the excellence expected in a five-star property while keeping in step with expectations of good citizenship in the 21st century.
Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal is one of those subliminally seductive hotels that are so good in every aspect that guests can easily be convinced never to leave the property. Even if that were the case, a complete Parisian experience can be fully enjoyed. Leave the Louvre for the next stay?