LE BRISTOL, the essence of Parisian grandeur

Inaugurated in 1925, Le Bristol is the only heritage luxury hotel in Paris which has been proudly owned by just two private owners and this says a lot about the attention to detail and continuous strive for perfection. Madame Maja Oetker of the Oetker family who own the hotel is still actively involved in every single detail regarding the interior design of the hotel.

Madame Oetker together with renowned French hotel interior designer Pierre Yves Rochon have actually worked together to remodel the hotel’s Three Star Michelin restaurant Epicure in 2011, unveiling a fresh look with soft colours and luxurious fabrics as well as a fireplace which adds warmth and intimacy.  Madame Oetker worked closely with Pierre Yves Rochon to design the interiors of the hotel’s newest wing ”Residence Matignon” which was inagurated in 2010, adding 21 new bedrooms, 5 luxury suites and Le 114 Faubourg Restaurant.

Every step in the evolution and development of the hotel has been carefully planned, the owners and management overseeing that consistency is maintained in every single detail, from the original classic furniture and design elements (fabrics, interior decoration objects) to the versatility of the rooms and suites. Le Bristol is probably the classic luxury hotel in Paris with the most versatile allocation of space, being able to provide its most discerning guests with the widest and most complex type of accommodation – from Eiffel Tower panoramic views, natural lit bathrooms, large terraces, to garden views which in summer allow guests to savour the quiet garden with the windows open.

My stay at Le Bristol could not have come at a better time, this past December, just three months since the inauguration of the new SPA, during the amazing classic Christmas decorations throughout the hotel (natural Christmas trees, including one in my room) and less than two months from the completion of renovations of some of the hotel’s signature suites, the Imperial Suite (the largest in the hotel and the only with parquet) and the Honeymoon Suite. Over 80% of the room inventory of the hotel have actually completed a comprehensive refurbishment process in 2011. Judging by the attention to details, I would rather call the completion of a careful restoration work, considering that same interior elements being kept but now looking more fresh crisp.

My room, a junior suite overlooking the courtyard garden, which is actually the largest such garden at any luxury hotel in Paris, had an oversized king bed with a generous living area. Bathrooms are entirely made of rose white marble, with double sinks (a rarity in Paris) a large bathtub and a  separate shower. I was glad to learn from the staff, the hotel was planning to update the amenities, towels and bathrobes too, to provide the ultimate in luxury. Impeccably dressed maids, like in an aristocratic residence would service the rooms three times a day. There were two maids in the main lobby at all times who were discreetly touching up every single detail.

There are many such details at Le Bristol, which despite the grandeur of its classic decor, make one feel at home, ensuring the utmost in comfort. From the Front Office to the Restaurants and bar, staff would be extremely friendly and courteous and I could notice how they would interact with house guests they probably know for years. I believe there is room for improvement at the Concierge, which, given the hotel’s location on Paris’ top luxury shopping street, should be more up to date with any new store openings or limited edition release at one of the many luxury fashion, jewellery and watches stores.

During my stay, I was most pleased to meet Fa-Raon, a one year burma kitty, which actually lives at the hotel, walking freely throughout the hotel, playing and entertaining guests of all ages. It was such a joy seeing adults and children alike smile, whenever they would come accross Fa-raon, whose friendly ”manner” made him so lovable. Other luxury hotels have had mascots, usually stuffed animals (Le Bristol actually has a rabbit name after the founder of the hotel Hippolyte) however, is a great idea in making guests feel even more at home. And Fa-raon is undoubtedly a star – guests take photos of him, he graces the hotel’s New Year’s Eve greeting card and hotel staff would send internal emails to locate him…

The highlight of my stay has definitely been the SPA, inagurated mid-October 2011, after extensive renovation works. In contrast with the classic style of the hotel, the SPA has a contemporary,  understated decor, exuding warmth, peacefulness and calm. I have to admit the use of space is incredible, there being treatment rooms with direct views on the garden, a Russian marble treatment room with its own steam room and a nice retail and reception area. Isabelle, the SPA Manager has created a unique concept, blending the classic La Prairie cosmetics body and facial treatments with the latest organic beauty treatments by The Organic Pharmacy and Russie Blanche. Personally, I had an amazing treatment with Peter, a very talented and passionate therapist originally from Slovakia. It was a Russian massage treatment, alternating hot towels dipped in Vodka with smashed ice and an energetic massage with a signature blended organic oil from Russie Blanche.

The SPA also features a ”Russian Room”, with a heated marble table and an overhead shower, the first of in Paris. The SPA at Le Bristol is probably the first SPA in a luxury hotel I have been to, where the head Chef prepares the healthy snacks and vitamin cocktails, not to mention the organic ginger and lime tea… And to complete the unique offering of the SPA, there is a couples room, with its own Turkish bath and private terrace, where, in warm weather, guests can enjoy the beautfully manicured garden of the hotel in an intimate corner.

Other exquisite details: the roof top swimming pool with panoramic views of Paris, Cristofle bespoke engraved cuttlery in Epicure, Baccarat bespoke glasses in Epicure and chandeliers in Suites, hand made Versailles style parquet, classic elevator from the 30′, the most creative and beautiful fresh flower arrangements in rooms (subtle mix of full fragranced flowes with decorative ones)

Despite the classic decor and palatial ambiance, Le Bristol Paris is not intimidating, the great mix of guests feeling comfortable wearing equally casual wear and the most elegant attires at the same time and this is a major achievement, especially in Paris, which is probably one of the most competitive luxury hospitality markets in the world these days.

I can’t wait to be back at the Bristol in Spring or Summer and see Fa-raon play with Hippolyte in the beautiful garden of the hotel, a true oasis in the very heart of Paris…

Oliver Petcu