Time for some serious product placement: Le Grand Hotel, Paris. Go and stay there. I spent a few nights with the Artist there recently and it was, well, magnifique. I needed to be there, as opposed to any other hotel, to do some top-up research for a book I am currently re-igniting. Certain key scenes happened there in 1914. Oh, the wilful intrigue of my vagueness.
Le Grand is a big hotel and part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group. It might not be everyone’s idea of a romantic Parisian bolthole. There are plenty of bijoux hotels in the 6th, but I always feel a bit uncomfortable in places of limited staffing – you know, when the same face pops up in different areas of the hotel, or the worn out Monsieur on the front desk knows too much about your movements. I need the freedom of anonymity you get in a big hotel to help me switch off.
If you are looking for immaculate, yet understated five star service that is devoid of stuffiness, then you will struggle to do better than Le Grand. The IHG group are currently on a mission to offer a more chilled out first class service across all their hotels. It works here already. The hotel, which is one of the oldest large hotels in Paris, had a major re-fit in 2002, so it is finely spruced throughout. Our room was luxurious and overlooked the Opera House. Recent modern additions to the hotel include a small, but perfectly adequate spa. Despite the lush re-furb, the cosmetic traditions of the hotel’s more famous older parts have been preserved. There’s the relaxing Winter Garden central atrium, the exquisite Cafe de la Paix with its ornate splendour (what a place for breakfast) and then there is the devine, gilt-mirrored oval ballroom called the Salon Opera. Take your girl for a private waltz here beneath the giant crystal chandelier. This is where Daniel Craig hosted the post-premiere party for James Bond’s Casino Royale in November, so if you’ve got two left feet she can at least close her eyes and think of him.
So, if you are considering a break in Paris, think of Le Grand. If not to stay, then maybe for a meal, or afteroon tea, or a flute of champagne. Or, indeed, a dance. Feel free to mention my name.