Josephine Price checks out a tranquil oasis in the heart of the French capital
Stepping inside the Mandarin Oriental, Paris and I instantly swap the camera-toting crowds on one of Paris’s — and indeed Europe’s — most lavish streets for the soothing calm of a voluminous, marble-clad lobby and a complementary flute of Louis Roederer Champagne. Paris may swell with history, but the Mandarin Oriental has stayed true to the brand’s signature style and is contemporary and sleek. This isn’t your classic Parisian hotel. Anyone wanting a dose of that has only to nip around the corner, where they’ll find the Ritz, the Louvre, Place Vendôme… One thing that is distinctly Parisian, thankfully, is the courtyard. Paris is good at courtyards and the Mandarin Oriental doesn’t disappoint with its calming, verdant version.
Descending into the subterranean spa takes me even further away from classic Paris. As I step into the whitewashed dome, a gong sounds, urging me to succumb to the spa vibe. There’s a big pool, private treatment rooms for two and heaps of make-up, perfume and products to peruse. The check-in is sleek and simple and I slide soundlessly across the marble floors to the treatment room in my spa slippers.
Pauline, my therapist, waves an array of intoxicating oils under my nose. One by one she details their benefits and I’m overwhelmed. I feel in need of all these saviours — although my ears prick up at ‘energising’. I’ve had a week of little sleep and have a two-hour massage in front of me. I need to be energised to make it through. Over the course of two hours, I’m massaged from top to toe — even my fingertips get attention. My arms are lifted for Pauline to work on the inconspicuous knots skulking away underneath my shoulder blades. I don’t fall asleep. So I’m both energised and proud of myself. I’m offered a shower and a rooibos, ginger, honey and chantilly pannacotta afterwards. I’ve never been offered a dessert after a massage but the chef here is renowned, so I have a bite. I spend the afternoon slinking around Paris cloaked in the energising oil.
The Mandarin Oriental has a trio of restaurants headed up by chef Thierry Marx. We concentrate on the most important meal of the day in the Camelia restaurant: breakfast. It could go on for hours. It almost does. Breakfast is themed on four cities: New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris. So whether you want to feast on pancakes or graze on dim sum, it’s all there. There’s also a buffet with all the classics — patisseries and charcuterie — as well as the unexpected: congee and pickles. There’s also a Michelin-starred situation and a cafe to tempt you into spending every meal time here.
The 98 rooms and 40 suites at the Mandarin Oriental are some of the most spacious in the city. Ours looks out on to the verdant courtyard, and although the balcony is petite, the room is anything but; A full 55sq metres, it’s swathed in muted tones with touches of purple, and the beds are a dream. The marble bathroom is my highlight. Diptyque products make showers a dream, and I soon swap my clothes for the Frette bathrobe.
For flawless service and five-star luxury, this is the perfect base to explore Paris from. If you can bear to prise yourself away from the spa, the restaurant and your suite, that is.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Paris offers a 1h20 signature Oriental Essence massage for €250. Rooms from €914 per night based on two adults sharing on a room only basis.