Room type: Deluxe Suite
Duration: 18 > 20th February, 2022
When is a new hotel no longer a new hotel? A few weeks after opening? A month? A year? When so many towels have gone missing they have to order more? That’s the question I kept asking myself, as the answer decides if a hotel is finding its feet or it’s chained to a bathroom wall and has sawed them off. Bulgari Paris has only been open two months, but for a brand that has gone with the tried and tested, is that long enough to already be considered established?
When I say that it’s very familiar, I’m not playing around, mister. Their F&B offering is a single restaurant, just like London. The ground floor contains all the facilities: a bar and lounge, just like London. The spa is a replica of London. It even has a courtyard, just like Milan. You thought I was going to say London, didn’t you? They’re not mental! No one opens a courtyard in London when we have so many storms that we will soon have to start using the Greek alphabet to name them as the English language has been exhausted.
The only way that you can definitely tell you’re not in London is the view being significantly better, by which I mean you’re facing George V and get to see the unique way the French park by crashing into each other like they’re at a fairground, the rooms have taken a lighter tone and the food. Yes, the food! Of course, it would be different in Paris. It would have that extra added something, what the French I believe call merde. It’s different in the same way that RyanAir is different to other airliners – the others weren’t sent here by the devil.
As with all Bulgari properties, the spa is where it really shines. I do wish the design decision wasn’t agreed so close to lunchtime that the architect proclaimed “the one in London, but with fewer seats and no jets in the hydro pool” before cartwheeling off to the nearest bistro and declaring himself a genius. Even so, is it one of the best pools around? You bet. It was unusually busy, which removed what is a lot of the charm of a luxury property, but between the sauna, steam room, 29C pool and 34C hydrotherapy pool, it’s so pleasant that even my daughter managed to spend more than thirty minutes there without screaming.
So you’d think a hotel with more suites than rooms would be child friendly. On one hand, it felt like a child had never stayed here, or even that most of the staff had ever seen a baby before. There’s no children’s menu, so they can’t eat; turndown service came at 9 pm, so they can’t sleep, the pool has a sign saying no children under 3 are allowed, so they can’t exercise and when ordering room service for our 1-year-old daughter they sent a €102 fish, so now she can’t afford an education. Lucie was raging so much from the world’s most expensive baby food, that all light was destroyed and a black hole was born. The apologies swiftly arrived, particularly after Lucie interrogated all inroom dining staff by asking “would you spend €102 on your baby’s dinner?”.
On the other hand, they did have a cuddly toy waiting for her and no one cared about the swimming pool rules, so they either thought she was an incredibly stupid three-year-old or chose to ignore it. If only she didn’t waste her life savings on a fish. I don’t know if the resolution to Fish Gate was the turning point in our stay, but after repeated apologies the stay began to dramatically improve; at the very least they all knew who we were.
Excluding the Bulgari Suites or their Villas, their top room categories, I have never loved any Bulgari rooms. No spoilers alert: Paris did not impress either. But then I was never going to be when the ethos of a brand is similar across all their properties. Bulgari isn’t Four Seasons, who seem to hire some of their interior designers based on their mug shots.
Design is very subjective, so when I say that not even my dad would look at a room and be impressed, perhaps your dad is inferior to mine and would, so instead let me focus on more practical elements. Everything is controlled by one of the two iPads, but technology has started to try and fix things that were never a problem. Just trying to turn a light on now is a mental and physical exercise, you hit objects in the dark like whack-a-mole until eventually, you’ve woken everyone up as all the lights are now on.
If you’re gonna offer a high-tech future, at least do it right – I had to open the curtains myself! What kinda hell is this?! The TV randomly turned itself on, the AC in the bedroom was only pumping out cold air, the sound isolation meant we would frequently hear traffic. I did appreciate the in-built ability to login to Netflix and the blackouts were far superior to what Cheval Blanc Paris was offering, but overall simplicity often wins the day. Except when it comes to my beloved Toto, I will defend that to the death. Free movies, large TVs in both bedroom and living room, but then the only reason we took a Suite was to be separated from our daughter, but the sound is so poorly isolated in the separate living room that we may as well have a Junior Suite.
I am keen on some elements of technology they offer across their properties, such as the use of WhatsApp to chat to your butler, but in Paris they seemed to have it sent through to some kinda switchboard where people would eventually get around to it. There’s definitely polishing needed here, like how long they took to clean the room, how often everyone asks for room numbers, but there was a palpable sense that everyone wanted you to be happy. They even managed the impossible task of connecting our baby monitor to the WiFi network.
When you do enough of these reviews it all becomes much for muchness. Show up, check-in, get a tour, take pictures, use all the facilities, eat all the food, write notes, insult everyone and leave. I was trying something new this time: arrive, get ill, leave without taking a single picture and insult everyone as they carry me out. That didn’t work out well for me either, as Storm Eunice meant there was no way to get home, so I stuck around and within 24 hours it had completely passed. This turned my poor culinary experience into a new chapter; I would go as far as saying this was the most nutritiously void stay ever – no dinner on the first night and some bread on the second. I didn’t order bread, I had ordered a salad, but it was so bad I decided to just eat the free bread it came with.
If you want to know what it’s like writing this blog, let me describe my final experience here whereby I told a manager that I wanted to give some negative feedback, with the first point being the food. The Director of F&B was called over and I told him that our salad from Pret was better than the salad I attempted to eat the night before.
- Location. Bulgari Paris is opposite Four Seasons George V, which is undoubtedly one of Paris’ finest hotels and also has some of the best cuisine offerings of any hotel in the world, with at least nine hundred Michelins and a packet of Continentals. There is a reason that Four Seasons flagship property is in this part of Paris and it’s because it’s a great area.
- The food
- Feels new and with mistakes to go with it
If you like Bulgari Hotels then you’re getting exactly what you expect, but for those of us that like to try something new, the reasons for staying here are the same I have for London: amazing pool and brilliant location, but there are better hotels.
It does leave me with the age-old question: “would I return?” After the first night no, but by the second and the staff turned on a full charm offensive and even the room design wasn’t bothering me as much. The rooms aren’t great, but the spa is, the facilities aren’t great, but the service is, the food is awful, but then you can just walk to Four Seasons in your bathrobe.
I like visiting new, exciting shiny hotels, but Bulgari Paris is not that. If you’ve come from London there’s nothing new for you here, but that might be exactly what you’re after.