Lauren Gamp reviews a Californian massage in a Parisian boutique hotel
The hotel has an indoor swimming pool with hammam and sauna, the decor of which is consistent with the visual language of the hotel. Entering the pool room feels like an Eastern retreat, miles away from the heart of Paris. There are no treatment rooms so treatments take place in the guest rooms, with therapists called in from a trusted agency.
At the start of the Californian massage, my masseuse works on my alignment including some controlled breathing (on his part) while pushing into my upper back — an area he pays a lot of attention to, as requested. Each side of my upper back is finished with a full arm massage to fully exhaust and relax the muscles.
Next, he moves onto my legs, which always need more work than I think they’re going to. A very tickly foot massage makes me grateful my head is face down in the hole of the bed. I almost draw blood biting through my lip stifling a laugh.
The worst part for me is turning over onto my back. Now, my facial expressions can be seen. I feel he senses this anxiety and covers my eyes with a folded towel. He finishes with a scalp massage, which I was going to decline as I hadn’t had time to wash my hair, but I really can’t stop a scalp massage once it begins. I’m only human, after all.
When the massage is finished, he leaves me with a useful piece of advice: always go for a walk afterwards as this helps get your blood flowing again and your heart rate back to normal. I’m particularly grateful to him for this — I’ve been having massages for about 14 years, and this is the first time anyone has ever told me this!
A relaxing massage in the comfort of my own room — with the added bonus of leaving with post-treatment tips and advice I’d never heard before — made this all a great city break treatment.
The hotel piques interest, even from the outside. A jungle of sprawling plants frames the windows and a gold logo lets me know I’m in the right place. Inside, rich teal and burnt orange hues, luxurious velvet and antique objects make me feel like I’ve entered a high-end sanctuary. As I wait to check-in, a hardback booklet at reception informs me that the hotel is modelled on and inspired by the home of 19th-century French writer, Alexandre Dumas.
With a list of must-try Parisian restaurants as long as my arm, I opt to eat dinner out, but I do have the pleasure of enjoying breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast is held in the newly opened rum bar, Le 1802, the amber coloured bottles glistening in the bar racks above the buffet. To my delight, my three favourite cheeses are on offer for breakfast. I decide to have a rather Parisian breakfast, snacking on flaky croissants and strong coffee (followed by a little cheese board breakfast dessert) before heading out to explore the city.
My room is the Christoff suite, named after French artist Christoff Debusschere who painted all the art hung in the room and throughout the hotel. The lighting and decor are cosy and luxurious, giving it a high end but traditional feel. In contrast, the bathroom is bright white tiled with brass detailing. The toiletries/amenities are branded by the hotel, whose signature scents were so good that my boyfriend bought the scented candle on check-out.
Having a drink in the newly opened rum bar, Le 1802. With more than 500 rums to choose from, there really is something for everyone.
Those who like a hotel to be more than a bed for the night. With such an interesting backstory to base their brand on, staying here feels more like a multisensory experience.
Rooms from €160 (£144). The massage costs €110 (£99) for 60 minutes.