Luxury that is never stiff, just soft and inviting. Refinement with Parisian flair; chic that's eco- and canine-friendly. Petra Dokken falls in love with the Mandarin Oriental Paris.
PARIS – Hotels can be a horror away from home or happy memories waiting to happen. I can read recommendations and look at websites, but I can never know how I'll feel about a hotel until I stay there. The energy and the vibe, the smells and the sounds — they're all essential. When a hotel is good, I have a peaceful night's sleep. When a hotel is great, I have an experience like the one I had at the Mandarin Oriental Paris.
Located on tony rue Saint-Honoré, this is the hotel group's first and only property in France. The 1930s building was renovated to include an indoor landscaped garden filled with a hundred different trees and shrubs. It's all very spacious, especially for Paris, and the luxury is not stiff but rather soft and inviting. It's the MO's signature refinement with a dash of Parisian flair, a secluded haven in couture surroundings.
The weather was grey with a chilly wind when I arrived in Paris, tired from an early Monday morning flight, which I spent cramming for an important meeting. But the moment I walk into the lobby, my stress disappears. The warm, inviting scent (sweet orange with a tint of jasmine perhaps). The smiling staff. The glass of Champagne. (It's never too early for Champagne.)
I look around my room and try to identify exactly what I find so appealing. It's soft and warm. Very peaceful. The hotel is clearly inspired by its 1930s Art Deco roots, an era of elegant women in beautiful, draped fabrics. Madeleine Vionnet, Gabrielle Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli. This femininity and sensuality translate flawlessly into a 21st-century hotel filled with subtle shades and textures in grey, plum, rose, and mauve.
The local and eco-friendly breakfast buffet is one of the best ever: French croissants and cheeses as well as a full Japanese spread. The crowd is interesting — Russian fashionistas, loud Americans, well-manicured Japanese, and me, a Swedish writer with messy hair.
But understated luxury and a great breakfast will only get a place so far. There is a lot more to love around here.
First, the hotel has earned a Highly Quality Environment certification for its sustainability efforts. "Luxury" is a word too often attached to vulgar waste and unreasonable demands. But as it exists at the Mandarin Oriental, it means eco-responsibility: save electricity, re-use, upcycle, go local, and much more. Luxury hotels (which tend to charge upwards of a thousand Euros per night) should be the ones to lead the charge, right?
Second, my dog is not only allowed to stay with me but is welcomed as a guest. Yes, I know, the French love their dogs, so much that they are often allowed in restaurants. But the Mandarin Oriental takes dog care to another level: ceramic bowls for food and water, sheets for the dog's sleeping place, a towel for muddy paws, a dog sitter, a guide to the local dog parks, and a room service menu with chicken breast, boiled rice, and steamed carrots. General manager Philippe Leboeuf, one of European luxury hospitality's foremost figures, has a border terrier named Archie Lewoof. He gets it. In so many ways.
Mandarin Oriental Paris
251 rue Saint-Honoré