Cheval Blanc Paris
Room type: Junior Suite
Duration: 16 > 18th February, 2022
With the opening of their first city property, Cheval Blanc has pulled up its big boy pants and joined the likes of Aman by moving away from being a resort business to a hotelier. The comparisons to Aman are apt; Aman Tokyo proved that you can maintain a unique aesthetic, even in a city; that it’s possible to have something which is undoubtedly your brand, far away from where you’re associated; that you can create a spectacular environment whilst being limited by space. It also helps to keep your service ethos (well, eventually). Cheval Blanc has now joined that humble club called “multi-billionaire owners not being humble”.
I can pick away at the sloth-like arrival, which took twenty minutes of queuing, form filling, begging, crying and praying to get a room key, but otherwise, this is a stupendously beautiful, no-expense-spared, extremely luxurious hotel that has service to match. It’s the kinda place you can slowly walk around, pretend you’re all sophisticated by taking it all in, and act like you’re in an art gallery.
The setting, you ask? Well, it’s by the river, it’s between Pont Neuf and Louvre, a few kilometres away from the other competing luxury hotels (i.e. Ritz, Four Seasons, Crillion, La Reserve, Le Bristol, Peninsula) and when we went for a walk a guy started pissing in the street. I’m not sure that’s going to make it into season 3 of Emily in Paris. For those familiar with London, the area felt more like Soho rather than Mayfair or Knightsbridge. It’s certainly an interesting decision. Maybe their hope is to have a reverse Broken Windows effect, whereby the nearby streets won’t stink of piss as people decide acting like a hobo doesn’t go well with their new pair of Dior’s.
What overcomes the setting is every other part of the hotel: gorgeous rooms, brilliant facilities, a truly unique spa, three restaurants, two bars, backed up by some warm, wanting-to-please service.
The basement homes their pool, gym and spa, the latter of which is, of course, a Dior spa. I think that means it’s a normal spa but costs 10x as much. Yet as much as I want to hate a brand that subjects me to endless shopping trips, they really know how to make something look beautiful. The 30-meter pool is lit up by screens that project nearby sights, helping to remove the basement feeling that near-all hotel spas suffer from. If they just projected the Maldives into the spa it would really save me a long trip and a lot of hassle in April. A sauna, steam room, snow room and a huge gym (avec Peloton) make this once more feel like a resort. It’s also unique in having no children friendly hours – they are always welcome. A nightmare for me over a year ago, but now a welcome respite.
Even the kids club is beautiful. Yes, it’s a city hotel, but they’ve included a kids club and LVMH have so much money they even have paid someone enough to look after your screaming spawn, with their compliments. When we showed up at the kids club and it was locked (we later find out it opens at 2 pm), someone passing by saw us and said they’d come back to us to open it. We didn’t wait around so went back to our room, but barely a few minutes later there’s someone knocking on our door to tell us they can open it for us privately. That’s the level of service on offer here: you ask, you get.
The food wasn’t good enough. You’re in Paris so you could argue it doesn’t matter as there’s a gazillion other restaurants, but I often want to eat in the hotel and with a baby we had no choice.
Le Tout-Paris is their primary restaurant, which produced an ok breakfast, an ok lunch – albeit portions that micro-art could correctly represent – and an ok dinner. What I’m saying is: it’s no Five Guys. I don’t know if everyone was getting commission for bakery sales, but being repeatedly told to try them, it created so much hype that I was expecting Jesus to reveal himself as the baker. Turns out you can’t always believe the hype.
Elsewhere you have Langosteria, offering fine dining Italian whilst Plénitude is French fine dining, neither of which we had an opportunity to eat in, as we have a one-year-old and you try eating anywhere and leaving with a shred of dignity when the worst of your DNA is on the loose.
The rooms are beautiful, modern, stylish and very classy. Like Randheli, they also try and bribe you with an abundance of amenities; free swagger, creams and Dior branded everything. It’s practically entrapment when a hotel begs you to steal from them. There’s even a mini-fridge in the bathroom, presumably to cryogenically freeze yourself and come back in 50 years’ time looking not a day older, or like a lizard – dealers choice. A few chairs by the bay windows offer a calming place to sit and watch the madness unfold outside and its touches like that which reflects how well the space has been utilised. Not every design decision wins, like the mirrors that surround the toilet and give you a glimpse into how you’re gonna look as you take your last breath; and it’s never a great sign when they supply earplugs during turndown, but I’m not surprised they do, as the ambulances cared little for my health as they kept us awake. In fact, the room was too hot, had too much light coming in from outside and too much ambient light inside, so overall it wasn’t a great sleep. Yous wanted reviews of family travelling, so let me tell you: not sleeping is not a negative here, as I haven’t slept in over a year.
As is now standard, almost everything is controlled by a tablet, movies are free and there’s a Toto toilet, which raised up as our daughter walked past and made her burst into tears, presumably she thought it was a Transformer and her time was up.
I don’t think anyone is going to come here and not feel they’ve invested a lot of money in it and got some value back. It’s really beautiful. It doesn’t matter what it is, from a spoon to a jug of water, everything is so elegant. Although the bathrobes weren’t made of shahtoosh, so maybe I take it all back.
- For all the flaws with the food, their welcome cookies are probably the best I’ve ever eaten
- Attention to detail
- Didn’t LVMH invent luxury?
It always felt obvious that Cheval Blanc Paris was going to create something spectacular, seeing that they’re owned by LVMH who are some form of printing press for money and £3,000 Louis Vuitton tracksuits. So nothing surprised me here, but that’s only because Cheval Blanc Randheli created such high expectations that the outcome was inevitable.