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Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

Mathew Scott

 

What's the story? So this is how the other half lives. The Le Royal Monceau opened in 1928 and soon became a favoured haunt of everyone from Josephine Baker to Ernest Hemingway. The Raffles group took charge in 2008 and along came Philippe Starck, who overhauled the old dame. By the end of 2010, she was pure rock 'n' roll (acoustic guitars are provided in every one of the 85 rooms and 64 suites, and there is a mobile recording studio onsite, should a new tune spring to mind). The hotel, which last week was granted "Palace Distinction" - a step higher than five stars - by the French tourism development agency, is all about sophisticated seclusion; rooms have the feel of artists' studios. And very successful artists at that.

Is it art for art's sake? It's art for the guests' sake, apparently. Starck said he wanted to provide a connection between visitors and the Parisian art world and to that end, along with the hotel's Art District gallery, its Art Bookstore and the artwork that lines its corridors and rooms, Le Royal Monceau boasts what it claims is Paris' first "art concierge" service. Apparently, staff can track down any artwork - or artist - you fancy seeing, or line up private visits to specific galleries and pick up tickets to any openings that coincide with your stay.

Sounds enticing. Yes, and so is the food. The hotel's two restaurants, La Cuisine and Il Carpaccio (right), picked up a Michelin star each in February, the latter being the only Italian restaurant in town to be afforded the honour. Overseeing the whole operation is chef des cuisines Laurent Andre - once of our very own Spoon - and his trump card is Pierre Herme. The master pastry chef has his team supplying pastries, chocolates and - of course - macarons, and an exclusive breakfast featuring everything from his own granola to his pâte à tartiner.

We might need a nice lie down after all that. Fair enough. But afterwards, you might want to head downstairs and into the Spa My Blend by Clarins. It's a first for the brand and is all fluffy white and reflected blue pastels, and situated by a 23-metre indoor pool, that's naturally lit - a nice touch that adds to the dream-like atmosphere. The hotel also has its own cinema, with 99 seats available for functions or private screenings, if you fancy zoning out and going all Howard Hughes.

And what if we want to drag ourselves away? If you really must, hang a left out the front door (right) and stroll the block or so to the Arc de Triomphe, continue left down the Champs Elysees or just wander the surrounding Avenue Montaigne shopping district, once home to Marlene Dietrich and, these days, the French capital's place to be seen.

So, what's the damage? Studio rooms (36 square metres) start at €950 (HK$9,600) a night and junior suites (from 55 square metres) at €1,595, but if you really want to be left alone, book yourself (and whomever the mood might take you) into the 190 square metre Royal Monceau Suite, which has a private lift and comes in at a cool €13,500.

For more information, visit www.leroyalmonceau.com

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