As you know, I love a weekend break in Paris. It is the best excuse to wear extravagant outfits while simultaneously eating what would be considered a “dangerous cholesterol” amount of cheese and my not so secret obsession… L’escargot. If you haven’t tried one, get off this page and try one IMMEDIATELY… Priorities.
It is home to some of the best boutique pied-a-terre hotels but what you may not know is that Paris has been hiding a secret garden oasis that not only has outdoor garden space, but also… a hot air balloon. Wait… take that in properly.
A. Hot. Air. Balloon.
Mes amis, I am talking about the simply stunning Saint James Paris. .
So what is it that is so striking about this place?… Well firstly and most obviously, it is GRAND. Not grand to a bejewelled UAE shopping mall level, but grand to a Beauty and the Beast dance foyer level.
Its design is described as the “elegant madness of Bambi Sloan” where the “Second Empire meets virtually every other decorative period”. Its decor is eclectic and the main focal point is “Chandelier Chaos”, soars 14 metres overhead… Can. We. Talk?!
I think it is important to mention just how imposing this chandelier is and how the view of this teamed with the staircase and gallery is jaw-droppingly spectacular.
Through out the hotel, if you miss the continuous theme of hot air balloons then maybe have a little look into your eyesight my lovely. They are everywhere. What is more impressive is that they have managed to keep them as a luxury theme rather than overbearingly repetitive.
Why hot air balloons? Well… I thought you’d never ask. Get out your notepads class.
Built in the 19th century on the site of Paris’ first aerodrome, this ground was previously in fact… home to the world’s first hot-air balloon airfield. Est-ce vrai? Mais Oui!
It is a perfect country(ish) escape to have breakfast and coffee/criossants and was absolutely beautiful. I mean, where else can you find 300square metres of garden in Paris?
Need a little more than a Columbian roast soy flat white or extra dry hemp macchiato? (don’t you just hate hipster coffee orders…) A quick margarita before dinner here is also a pretty stellar idea.
The Library Bar
Should it not be margarita appropriate weather out in the garden (quitters) then they all have the Library Bar.
If Grey Goose and Winston Churchill had built Hogwarts, I imagine this is what it would have looked like.
Dark leather banquette sofas with heavy wooden bookcases give you a sense of old heritage luxury…. where better for me to order an old fashioned?
There is also a restaurant, simply named “The Restaurant”, which has 1 Michelin star under the direction of acclaimed chef Jean-Luc Rocha, M.O.F. (who actually has 2 Michelin stars to his name, do you mind). Its French European menu is known across Paris, but I’ll save that for its very own review another time.
The “grand” is not overlooked in the rooms. The high ceilings and bright colours and what I would refer to as “stealable idea” furniture like giant baroque mirrors and plush purple velvet couches that would make Prince jealous.
Each of the rooms and suites are decorated differently, but hidden behind the decadent red doors is utter Parisian Luxury.
All you have to do is decide whether you want to have a view of the balloons or whether you’d prefer the top-floor Music Suite with a baby-grand piano and a conservatory under a glass-roof… No big deal, right?
Or, you could always opt for the Love Pavilion, complete with lounge, a private spa with Turkish bath (casual), hot-tub for two and two massage tables for Guerlain treatments in your own room.
Personally, I am always a sucker for a roll top bath with ceiling rail… It feels like you’re in a warm, bubbly (in this case, Guerlain) cocoon…. When you only have 40 minutes to get ready to go out and use 25 of those to soak in a bath, you know its pretty special.
As always the attention to detail with fixtures and bath-robes is consistent. (I have a real thing about monogrammed hotel bath robes… so simple and makes all the difference).
The Guerlain Spa:
Ok… so your Girl loves Guerlain so a total winner for me. Should you not know much about Guerlain, know this… They have more scents, creams and in this case treatments than you could memorise with a Rainman memory and each is so head-swimmingly decadent that it makes you say ridiculous things like, “head-swimmingly decadent” and then quote yourself.
They have a whole host of different massages, facials, treatments and beauty therapies including the DEDICACE GUERLAIN and the ORCHIDÉE IMPÉRIALE PRESTIGE TREATMENT.
All in all, every part of this hotel makes you feel as if you are descending into your first dance of a debutants ball… Except in this case, when you reach the foot of the stairs, instead of a waltz, there is a giant hot air balloon, a chic bar and a little bit of casual Zebra taxidermy… which in my opinion you can never have enough of.
A final mention has to go to all of the staff, sales team and General Manager who are just so utterly charming, that it makes you swoon. Including their Concierge Christian (aka moonlighting Mario Testino) who, set up the best photoshoots of my entire trip. Other than a wind-machine and light reflecting board, he had every angle and lighting covered. C’était parfait!
Paris will always have my attention, but the Saint-James Paris has definitely won my affections. I’ll catch you in the balloon with a glass of something bubbly.