In a city awash with five-star hotels, a new entry with a slightly off-centre location needs an irresistible proposition to draw the well-heeled. Napoleon is not a bad name to throw around, nor is having the Eiffel Tower on your doorstep, like the Hotel Shangri-La Paris.
Chinese owners have done a good, if difficult job, of combining French grande luxe with Asian antiquities in this hotel built in 1896 as the private residence of Napoleon III’s great-nephew, Prince Roland.
Interestingly, although he was keen to be close to the Seine, like so many chic Parisians Prince Roland despised the newfangled tower which had only recently gone up, and chose to site all the public rooms looking the other way. It took 21st century hoteliers to realise the mansion’s most prized asset had thus been quite overlooked.
Not that there is anything insensitive in the conversion of the mansion to a hotel with nearly half the rooms and suites now offering heart-stopping Eiffel Tower views. Upon acquiring the building they had it listed as a historic monument, and brought in artisans to undertake a meticulous renovation of the original mansion.
Jaw-dropping original floors, stained glass, marble and gold-leaf thus greet guests, who are greeted with the impression they are entering a grand private home.
While you can’t argue with a ringside view of the tower from your bed, let alone your room – I left my curtains open in order to be awoken by the five-minute light show which denotes the top of the hour – the result of being so period-faithful is that the rooms feel a little dated in decor, in spite of the fact the hotel only opened in 2010.
Part of the problem is with the lighting and the strict colour scheme of blue, white and ecru which can feel a little cold. The marble bathrooms also feel very fin de siecle, but in fact are bang up to date with rainfall showers and flat screen TV’s, and some even have tubs overlooking the tower.
The hotel unusually offers two Michelin-starred hotels, L’Abeille, offering inventive French cuisine, and the Shang Palace, which is the only Michelin-starred Chinese reestaurant in France. For those who might expect fusion cuisine La Bauhinia, the third restaurant, does at least offer both French and south-east Asian specialities, making foie gras followed by Thai fish curry a possibility.
There is a bar and a spa, and a welcome new addition for 2016, a lounge where those who could not bag an Eiffel Tower view room which commands a four-euro sum can at least enjoy a glass of Champagne overlooking the most famous and symbolic landmark in Paris.
The Suit(e)-Up Lounge is a tricky name, and gaining access is even trickier – only 24 hours’ notice is given for availability, and only those among the first to reserve gain admission. Even then, the privilege doesn’t come cheap – it’s €150 per person for an evening of Champagne and petits fours.
Not only Napoleon, but the Sun King, would have approved – it’s grande luxe like this which has made France the envy of other nations for nearly 400 years, and the owners of the Hotel Shangri-La Paris, steeped in the provision of luxury to Asia’s new millionaires, are determined to keep up the tradition.
Tell me more about the Hotel Shangri-La Paris
Rooms from €675 per room per night.
Hotel Shangri-La Paris
10 avenue d’Iena
+33 1 5367 1964