LE ROYAL MONCEAU RAFFLES, Paris
What to do on a Parisian afternoon before a long flight back to Hong Kong via Dubai? If one is resident at Le Royal Monceau Raffles on avenue Hoche the answer is simple. Begin with a splendid three course lunch in the Michelin starred restaurant, follow that with a game of foosball an oversized table in the garden bar and then head to the spa for a deep steam, gentle massage and long swim.
I have always had a soft spot for Le Royal Monceau. Maurice Chevalier and Coco Chanel both made the place one of their regular watering holes (as did Ernest Hemingway) and Ho Chi Minh stayed for seven weeks during the 1947 Fontainebleu conference. The hotel was renovated between 2008 and 2010 with artistic direction from Philippe Starck and his trademark eccentricities are everywhere.
We had lunch at Le Cuisine, choosing a table inside, but next to the huge French windows so we could enjoy a breeze and charming view. Chef Gabriel Grapin, makes wonderful light and well-seasoned food and we had no trouble finding room for desserts by Pierre Hermé. The foosball was less satisfying. My team, representing England, was soundly beaten by a French eleven under the control of a powerful Parisian PR executive. At least I had the spa to look forward to and I was not disappointed. The Royal Monceau’s spa services are supplied by Clarins and the below ground space claims to be “a unique haven of peace and relaxation in pure white.” They are not lying, although I was, on my back, having a facial and a deep tissue massage.
Afterwards I threw myself into the 23-metre pool, the longest ever built in a Paris luxury hotel. As I made turn after turn while looking up at the glass ceiling that reveals the gardens above I felt one of life’s perfect moments file itself away in my memory bank. Thanks to impeccable service, captivating art and a brilliant design aesthetic, Le Royal Monceau Raffles is a hotel that’s much more than the sum of its parts. Trust me, you will not want to leave.