Just steps off the always bustling Champs Elysees (in the 8th arrondissement), on the much quieter rue de Berri, is the hip yet serene Hotel Warwick, a member of the Warwick International Hotels worldwide “collection.”
This newly renovated city charmer features 149 rooms and suitesmany of them with individual terraces and views of Paris.
My “executive room” overlooked rue de Berri, admittedly not the most scenic view in Paris, but quite frankly, after a long day out and about, I was more than happy to simply revel in the tranquility of my roomno outside views needed! (The room did, however, feature one wall of windows so there was plenty of natural light which I just loved.)
The Warwick’s popular restaurant, W, and its cozy W Lounge Barfor cocktails or light mealsare popular with guests as well as native Parisians; there is also a business center with high-speed Internet access should you feel the need to be connected to the outside world!
Not only does The Warwick offer comfort and conveniencejust a short stroll to shopping, dining, sightseeing, even the Metrobut it also has a staff that couldn’t be more friendly and helpfulfrom the doormen to the front desk receptionists to the concierge to the housekeeping staffthere was always a smile, a “Can I help you?,” and a “Have a nice day” from everyone I met.
After three days of exploring the Champs Elysees and nearby avenue George V, avenue Montaigne, avenue du Faubourg St -Honore, and feeling ever so chic and ParisianI moved over to another “jewel” in Warwick International’s collectionthis time the Hotel Westminster, in the nearby 2nd arrondissement. The Westminster offers a differentalthough equally graciousexperience, with an Old World charm and the opportunity to feel like visiting royaltyjust like the Duke of Westminster, a regular visitor to the hotel in the mid-19th century and for whom the hotel is named (the current Duke has carried on the family tradition by staying here as well).
The Westminster has 21 suites and 80 rooms; many named for one of the renowned jewelers that can be found on the nearby Place Vendome. The hotel has been completely renovated in the past three years and designed by the well-known decorator Pierre-Yves Rochon who has combined traditionally styled furniture with period pieces such as Louis XV inlaid consoles, Napoleon III desks, Aubusson rugs, and Chinese porcelain. Each room also blends period pieces with modern amenities, including satellite TV, and private, high-speed Internet connection, mini-bar, and spacious marble bathrooms.
Save room for dessert (this is Paris, after all!)mint soufflé with chocolate ice cream, saffron biscuit with candied mango, candied lentils and carrots and lemon sorbet, small bananas roasted with spices, and pineapple marinated with Sichuan pepper.
Each week Le Celadon offers a “from the market” menu at 55 euros (wine and coffee included); the menu is updated each week. A “tasting menu,” at 71 euros, gives you a gastronomic tour of the chef’s virtuosity and highlights foods of the season such as asparagus and morels in spring, lobster in summer, fowl in autumn, and truffles in winter.
During the weekends Le Celadon becomes Le Petit Celadon, with a more casual atmosphere, and menu; there is even a children’s menu as well.
On the fifth floor of the hotel, with windows offering a view of Parisian rooftops, you can work out in the Westminster’s fitness club; there is even a personal trainer available to set up a customized program for you. The fitness club also has a relaxation area, designed in a simple, elegant Thai style, as well as a spa run by the Institut Orlane.
As at The Warwick, the staff at The Westminster is gracious, accommodating, cheerful and always ready to offer a hand (or on a rainy day, an umbrella!).
Warwick International Hotels was founded in 1980 with the purchase of The Warwick New York. Today, Warwick has 30 hotels worldwide in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the U.S. (The Warwick New York, The Warwick Denver, The Warwick Regis in San Francisco, and The Warwick Seattle).
Many of the hotelslike The Westminsterhave a long history; The Warwick New York, for example, was built by William Randolph Hearst in the mid-1920s for his Hollywood friends; The Westminster was one of the first hotels in the City of Light; and the Fiji Warwick is built on the Coral Coast, site of Viti Levu ’s most ancient settlements.
There are those for whom the choice of hotel is not importanttheir reasoning is that they’re only there to sleep. For others (like myself), where you stay is as much a part of your travel experience as the destination itself. When I think back on this most recent trip to Paris, I will be remembering not just the city I love so much, but the two hotels that made me feel so at home. I look forward to returning to themand sampling the rest of Warwick International’s collection.
Feature by Carol Sorgen, Jetsetters Magazine Baltimore Correspondent.
Tour Tips For Paris
As hard as it was to actually leave the luxury of both the Hotel Warwick Champs Elysees and the Hotel Westminster, I was, after all, in Paris, and the city beckoned. For many, Paris is about museums and monuments; for others, it’s about wining and dining; for still others, it’s about shopping (even if only gazing through the windows). As a frequent visitor to Paris, I usually try to do a bit of everything, but truth be told, unless there’s a special exhibition I want to see, I generally skip the major sights such as the Louvre. You don’t need me to tell you what the must-sees are in Paris especially on your first trip any guidebook can do that for you. So here instead is a list of some of my personal favoritessome I return to every visit, some were new to me but will be on the must-see/do/eat list in the future. I hope they become some of your favorites too.
When you want ice cream in Paris, Berthillon is where you head. Once only available at its original location on the Ile St. Louis, you can now find Berthillon glaces et sorbets throughout the city (including the Champs Elysees). A small boule of glace au chocolat is rich and deeply chocolatey. French scoops of ice cream are much smaller than what we find here, but you won’t mind in the least because the flavor is that intense. One of my other favorite flavors here is gianduja, a somewhat lighter chocolate flavored with orange, containing slivers of orange peel.
I’d been wanting to go to the Musee Jacquemart Andre (158 blvd. Haussmann, www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com) for several years and finally made it on this visit. This 19th century mansion was once the home of business magnate Edouard Andrew and his wife Nellie Jacquemart. The museum houses a truly stunning collection of furniture and art, including works by Italian artists Mantegna, Uccello, and Botticelli. There’s also a wonderful gift shop where you can find reasonably priced souvenirs for yourself or to bring home.
When walking down the Champs Elysees toward the Rond Point (the opposite end from the Arc de Triomphe), I came across Artcurial (7 Rond Point du Champs Elysees). This gallery/café/art bookstore is a treasure trove for those, like myself, who love books on art, photography, and design.
You don’t have to love opera to love the Palais Garnier (Place de l’Opera), the Paris Opera House. Both the interior and exterior are brimming with opulence, with colored marble, molded stucco, gilt, red satin and velvet boxes, and a false ceiling painted by Chagall. You can take in an opera or ballet here, or you can just spring for the 6 Euros and tour the magnificent building. There’s a small, but well-stocked, gift shop to the right of the entrance (you can go to the gift shop without paying the entrance fee).
Just across the square from the Opera Garnier is the Café de la Paix (12 boulevard des Capucines). When the weather’s frosty outside, you can sit in the heated, glass-enclosed terrace and watch the world go by while you indulge in one of the café's legendary pastries. (Try the millefeuille.)
I just discovered this intimate, and extremely attractive, new museum in the St. Germain area of Paris. The Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits (Museum of Letters and Manuscripts, 8 rue de Nesle) provides a glimpse of history traced through more than 2,000 documents and letters from such notables as Mozart, Freud, Napoleon, and Einstein. There are both permanent and special exhibitions and a small gift area.