Living in the Lap of Luxury in Paris in the 5* Hotel de la Trémoille
A good friend of mine, Mel, recently moved to Paris. She’s one of those girls that gives me utter envy with every step she takes, as she’s forever travelling to great new places that I’ve barely heard of, she picks up foreign languages at the drop of a hat and to put the icing on the cake, she’s just moved to the French capital in a whirlwind of baguettes, crossaints and red wine! Given that Mel was actually one of the key influences in my decision to take 6 months off work, it seemed only fair that I begin my sabbatical with a trip to visit her in le beau Paris.
The very same day that I bid farewell to my office on Piccadilly Circus for 6 months (!), my friend Simon and I jumped on the Eurostar to Paris, where he’d very kindly upgraded us to Standard Premier class. At this point I realised that I’d be seeing a whole new side to Paris, an extremely luxurious side at that! My previous trip to Paris in 2013 with my mother was jam-packed with culture and sights, so having already got those out of the way, this trip was instead about assuming the luxurious French lifestyle and treating ourselves to the finest the city has to offer. I couldn’t wait!
Fresh off the Eurostar, we met Mel in the Gare du Nord and headed straight to the 5-star Hotel de la Trémoille in the 8th arrondissement, in the Golden Triangle between the Avenues des Champs-Elysées, George V and Montaigne. I’d been invited to visit this 19th-century private mansion that recently received a €24 million renovation and was treated to a luxurious suite overlooking Rue de la Trémoille, complete with original wrought iron balconies, no fewer than three french windows, a grand fireplace, a marble bathroom to die for and a welcome gift of four delicious Ladurée macarons.
The hotel’s atmosphere is discrete luxury, giving it an exclusive air that feels like a prized secret, a hidden treasure trove to which you’ve been allowed a golden key. In the 1960s the hotel apparently played host to a dazzling array of the world’s leading jazz musicians and this aptly set the tone for the weekend. There’s a grand piano in the hotel bar; on Sunday morning, after a sauna in the hotel’s spa, I indulged in an enormous Molton Brown bubble bath while listening to Jazz piano; and we were even serenaded by Jazz while driving around in Parisian taxis.
The three of us began our 5-star weekend in Paris with a champagne-toasted, 3-course dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, the Louis², presided over by chef Fabrice Debois. I opted for the homemade duck fois gras with fig chutney, followed by the rib eye steak with herbal butter and Pont-Neuf style french fries, finishing up with a strawberry bavaroise with vanilla, amaretto and Gariguettes. The food was absolutely exquisite, with the only minor problem being the difference between a British medium-rare and a French medium-rare steak, but after a very friendly waiter solved that slight issue, the meal went without fault. To be fair, I have had that problem many times before in France, so I should know by now!
The next morning we woke to an impressive view from our (many) balconies and a delicious continental and English breakfast in the Louis² restaurant, which to my delight was served until midday, affording us luxurious lie-ins each day. The location of the Hotel de la Trémoille proved to be perfect for our escapades around Paris, as it’s close to the River Seine, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and in easy reach by taxi to the rest of the sights and key areas in Paris. I personally adored the Hotel de la Trémoille and its interior design and architecture 100% lived up to my Parisian daydreams, while feeling modern and glamorous enough for the 21st century.
Rates at Hotel de la Trémoille start from €360 (£264) per room per night including a continental breakfast and wi-fi. For further information or to book visit www.hotel-tremoille.com or call +33 156521400.
Having set the bar quite so high with our accommodation, we certainly couldn’t then let standards drop, so we proceeded to experience Paris in the most luxurious fashion we could. We meandered on foot across the Pont de l’Alma towards the Eiffel Tower, then past the imposing Dôme des Invalides, which contains Napoleon’s tomb and is the emblem of the Hôtel National des Invalides, a military hospital, grand residence for war veterans and Army Museum.
Further wanderings took us down the elegant boutique-lined boulevards of St Germain-des-Prés towards lunch at the famous people-watching hotspot, Le Deux Magots bistro, for a croque monsiour and a selection of incredible French tarts. I actually ate here back in July 2013, and can say it’s just as perfect a spot in winter as it was in summer. Having run a marathon the previous weekend, burning 3,273 calories in one day, I was intent on indulging on as much French cuisine as possible, without a second thought for the calories! Eventually stirring from our seats, we took in the Fontaine Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame Cathedral on the Íle de la Cité as the sun began to set and Paris’ lights began to twinkle.
The rest of the evening turned into a decadent blur of goodness-knows-how-many cocktails at bar after bar, the stand-out memory being of the bar at Hotel Costes, an incredibly cool place to see and be seen. After passing the bouncer’s critical eye, we entered a labyrinth of dimly lit mirrored corridors adorned with purple velvet, golden chandeliers and majestic candlesticks, passing the animated terrace restaurant and ducking into the darkly-lit cocktail bar, where the four of us (joined by my fellow Parisian-dwelling, fashion designer university friend Olivia Broadfield) threw back cocktail after cocktail, snacking on smoked salmon, spring rolls and French cheese, among a haze of beautiful Parisians and moody model waitresses. An absolute must.
The following day we were particularly grateful for the late-served breakfast and the spa in the Hotel de la Trémoille to bring us back to our senses, before heading out once again on a beautiful sunny day. Strolling along the banks of the Seine and spotting landmarks as we went, on the Passarelle Solférino we bid farewell to Mel who headed off to work, and Simon and I continued our explorations north of the river, around the Louvre Museum and the Jardin des Tuileries.
We then caugh a taxi to Sacré-Coeur Basilica which sits atop a 130 metre-tall hill in Montmartre, Paris’ old bohemian neighbourhood that was home to the Moulin Rouge and the artists Dalí, Modigliani, Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh at the beginning of the 20th century.
While the tower was closed the day we visited (and I definitely recommend you climb the tower of Sacre-Coeur) there are still astounding views over Paris and we coincidentally had timed our visit with the sunset so stopped for a drink at Le 7th Ciel, another hotel bar, this time with a roof terrace, that’s ideal for watching the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower.
Disappointingly time was beginning to wane before our Eurostar would depart back to London St Pancras, so we grabbed a quick dinner at Chez Francis, a fantastic bistro a mere stone’s throw from the Hotel de la Trémoille, with an unbeatable view of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night (with the moon conveniently positioned in a picture-perfect place – thank you man in the moon).
Et voilà – our weekend of luxury and indulgence in Paris came to an end. The oft-repeated motto of the weekend was most definitely “I cannot believe how lucky we are” and it almost turned into a cliché for the number of times it was uttered. I definitely believe that we could never have treated ourselves to such luxury, gluttony and extravagance back at home in London, it simply wouldn’t have held the same magic and would have felt more frivolous than indulgent. There’s just something about Paris that makes it feel acceptable to splurge and live the high life…
The weekend came about through Mel’s fortunate move to Paris (thank you Mel for giving us the excuse to visit!) and through the Hotel de la Trémoille‘s generous invitation to stay in the lap of luxury in their hotel, which I honestly cannot recommend highly enough. It was the most perfect way to begin my 6-month sabbatical and I was in the very best of company with Mel, Simon and Olivia. I consider myself very fortunate to have friends that live all over the world, leading such fascinating lives, and these are the people I love to surround myself with: the people who travel, who explore and who break out of the box. Here’s to many more such weekends of indulgence among such excellent company!