Renaissance Paris Vendome is not only situated in the chicest area of the city, being only one block from Place Vendome, they have undergone a stylish and forward-thinking multi-million refurbishment uniting the capital’s love of eclecticism, art and design that will give guests a uniquely immersive experience which goes far beyond offering a comfy bed for the night (& they do that too).
The boutique 97-room hotel with a pocket spa, pool & gym has been completely re-designed, with many areas the vision of interior maestro Didier Gomez who has worked for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Robert De Niro and Julia Roberts. Featuring a contemporary yet cosy Parisian style incorporating striking art works such as the specially commissioned 10 metre outdoor graffiti wall by IZa Zaro which the Patio Rooms with their private terraces benefit from, it’s a direction that will undoubtedly attract a new following to Renaissance Hotels.
A light and airy lobby, with vaulted glass ceiling and quirky paper chandeliers is meanwhile entitled ‘The Studio’ and encourages guests to linger rather than simply pass through. With it’s own refreshment menu it’s already a hub for meetings and relaxed laptop sessions and is an appealing space that gives a welcoming first impression on checking in.
And then there’s the exciting addition of Balagan restaurant (a Hewbrew name meaning “Joyful Bazar”); a collaboration between the renowned Experimental Group and acclaimed Israeli chefs Assaf Granit and Uri Navon which has already made the hotel a foodie destination since it opened its doors. With a Mediterranean-inspired blue décor by Dorothée Meilichzon they serve a truly original breakfast buffet to hotel guests glad of something besides the expected dishes, while come lunch and dinner service the dining room is buzzing as one of the city’s hottest new openings. The atmosphere is high tempo due to the music and an enthusiastic front of house, while sharing dishes add to the Friday night vibe (even on a Monday).
The signature Jerusalem cheesecake dessert was not only a grand finale but the essence of Balagan theatricality; dressed on the paper tablecloth modern art style by the chef and his assistants, complete with scatterings of strawberries, drizzles of sauce and squirts of aerated whipped cream which had the odd effect of prompting cheers and applause from diners quick to share the experience on social media. Gimmicky perhaps, but it is an undeniably memorable way to kick off a trip to Paris.
If you don’t want the evening to end (and it’s guaranteed you won’t), head to the plush new Cocktail Bar Balagan inspired by a French boudoir or vintage speakeasy and smouldering with low lighting and retro velvet banquettes. Speciality cocktails feature an inventive use of herbs and spices, with equally theatrical mixology demonstrations sure to keep you up far later than you intended. But then, we also started early – every evening from 6-6:30pm the bar offers hotel guests a complimentary cocktail before they open, a Bar Ritual available at every Renaissance property around the world, and one I only wish more hotels adopted.
However groggy I found myself the next morning, nothing beats waking up in Paris, and a whistle-stop tour of surprises awaited me. Updating the tired idea of the concierge, which frankly few of us use since being able to do our own internet research and make online reservations, the Navigator team have developed a strong network of interesting artisans in the Vendome area, from independent fashion brands off the beaten track, to local artists and an array of quintessential Parisian experiences bound to delight the savviest traveller looking for something outside the guidebooks. You’ll feel like a local in minutes.
Each property within the Renaissance group mark the annual Global Day of Discovery by celebrating the uniqueness of each Renaissance hotel, which in turn celebrate their locality. The exceptional Navigator team at Paris Vendome, led by Marie-Paul, put on quite a show for the international journalists who gathered at the hotel for the event. Navigating our way around the city by bicycles provided by the Paris Bike Tour company and adorned with wild flowers. We found ‘super healthy’ vegan packed lunches by Maisie Café in our baskets, a poncho in case of rain and a sun hat to lure away the morning showers.
Led by writer and Paris expert Lindsey Tramuta (author of The New Paris), we met designer shoemaker Bettina Vermillon who showcased her tucked away flagship boutique and luxury aluminium-heeled stilettos for the strong modern woman, before heading for a perfume masterclass with superstar perfumer Ex Nihlio who create fragrances for the rich and famous.
Manoeuvring our bikes through the beautiful Passage Choiseul we headed to the smaller, historic covered arcade, Galerie Vivienne for a speedy ‘Tour de France’ cheese and wine tasting at the legendary LEGRAND Filles & Fils, with the knowledgeable Alexis Rauteureau talking us through a fine selection of wines from the regions of Loire, Rhône, Beaujolais and Langedoc. This was a definite highlight of the day for the foodie buffs, as was the behind-the-scenes look at L’Eclair de génie by the famed pattisier Christophe Adam who once worked for the Roux family at London’s Le Gavroche. Quite possibly the perfect dessert on the go, for who cares if you get cream on your face? Try Chef Adam’s personal favourite, the salted caramel.
To round off the day we were chauffeur driven to one of Paris’ best kept secrets, the incredible Leclaireur Hérold fashion concept store open daily to the few members of the public who know about it and available for private hire. With champagne, canapés and the seductive sounds of opera greeting us upon passing through the mysterious black door, it was impossible not to feel like a VIP. Situated in the former stables of a private eighteenth century manor house, the kitsch interior is an Instagrammers paradise with mirrored tables, unicorn heads, wax works, tables decorated with stuffed parrots and stuffed peacocks ‘riding’ motorbikes. The guests literally gasped when the spectacular candlelit super-club style dining room was revealed for the grand Navigator’s Table Dinner and the creativity of the meal itself kept the gasps of pleasure coming.
I returned to my room for my last night at Renaissance Paris Vendome to find more thoughtful touches including a signed copy of The New Paris, cute bottles of French soda, handmade gluten free tahini cookies from Balagan (including a recipe I’ll be using when I get home) and a Macaroons Map directing me to the best macaron venues in the vicinity. Sweet dreams indeed.
Renaissance Paris Vendome, 4 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris, France. There are 82 rooms and 15 suites starting from €379. For more information and reservations please visit the website.