Shangri La Paris
Stereotypes, while not the most politically correct route to go down, are usually created following common realities. And anyone who’s been to Paris will know that the French are famed for their what we’d call, ‘abruptness’. It’s mostly charming, but some, especially if you’re used to the level of customer service we Middle Eastern or Asia-dwellers are exposed to, can find it quite disconcerting.
Which is partly why the Shangri La Paris, having only been open four years, has already made it into our Best Hotel’s in the World series, as it’s blend of historical charm and excellent customer service makes it a safe haven in one of Europe’s busiest cities. The European debut of the five-star, Hong Kong–based hotel group, the Shangri La moved into its impressive property in 2006, which was constructed in 1896 by the Emperor’s great-nephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte. It is now listed as a National Heritage Site of France and after four years of renovation work giving the 101-room hotel a magnificent facelift, opened its doors in December 2010.
Located on the Chaillot hill across from the Seine and a few steps away from the Eiffel Tower, we should note that half of the hotel’s rooms and suites offer breath-taking views of the city’s iconic construction (a rare feat in Paris, believe it or not). In July the hotel was awarded the coveted Palace Status, which means the property joined the prestigious circle of Parisian palaces, a recognition of the finest five-star hotels that have exceptional qualities. As a guest, this means unlike most of the space-efficient properties in the city, the Shangri La Paris has room. And lots of it, and their hotel rooms are some of the biggest you’ll be able to book.
While the hotel couldn’t be more French, there are Asian influences everywhere as a result of the hotel chains’ Hong-Kong-roots. This might explain the hotels exceptional approach to customer service. Staff here are polite, extremely helpful and accommodating.
Where to Eat:
French gastronomic restaurant L’Abeille, headed by two-Michelin starred Chef Philippe Labbé, is worth booking a table at if you’re after a true French-dining experience. Dishes change with the season and use seasonal produce from neighbouring farms, including salmon from the Adour River and greens pulled from nearby soil. Crispy roasted quail, duck foie gras coated in chocolate, and steamed lobster tail were on the menu when we visited.
In Le Bar, a couple of eager Frenchman with perfectly-honed mixology skills will whip up anything you request, although we recommend sampling something from their Asian-influenced cocktail menu. it has a gentlemen’s club feel to it with dark wood interiors, and is well-known for its drinks made with eclectic ingredients such as wasabi, horseradish, soy sauce, ginger and Szechuan peppers. Try the Kowloon Delight, a concoction of vodka, ginger beer, umeshu liqueur, and kumbawa fruit, finished with a blossom.
The only Chinese restaurant in France to be awarded a Michelin Star, Shang Palace serves sophisticated variations of dim sum and roast duck. Haute cuisine dishes devised by Cantonese Chef Frank Xu, are authentic and inspired by Southeast China’s culinary tradition, including the city’s best Peking duck.