Woody Allen decided on Italy for his latest movie, but maybe he should consider France again. It was Allen’s Midnight In Paris, a truly romantic film, which became his most successful box office hit in 25 years. Maybe it’s just that Paris scores in the title, or maybe it has a little stardust from one of this amorous city’s most refined hotels, Hotel Le Bristol.
Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson and Rachael McAdams, opened at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Cue rapturous reviews. The romantic comedy follows a family travelling to Paris for business. In the party are an engaged couple who confront the illusion that the grass is greener on the other side.
You might argue, and I would agree, that the main character is Paris and all that it brings to mind; the lingering smell of coffee, bustle of street cafés and romantic strolls by the Seine. In keeping with this image and wanting to portray classic Parisian 1920’s, Woody chose the Hotel Le Bristol as a primary location for his movie. Scenes were filmed in the elegant lobby and the panoramic suite. There are also many shots of the distinguished hotel façade.
Hotel Le Bristol is situated in the heart of Paris, close to the Elysée Palace on Rue Faubourg St – Honoré. The street itself is pretty non descript compared to the Champs Elysées, however it has been cited as one of the most fashionable streets in the world due to the global presence of fashion houses and art galleries.
For generations Le Bristol has attracted many celebrities, diplomats and well healed travellers. They visit to immerse themselves in history in addition to staying in a sumptuous room, lazing in a courtyard listening to a harpist, swimming in a pool, the only one of its kind that has views of the Eiffel Tower and experiencing the exceptional concierge service. In fact, Le Bristol’s Clefs D’Or (golden keys) concierges launched their own blog in January. Every Monday they divulge the secrets of their address books which are reputed to be exceptional. Who wouldn’t want to sneak a peak?
Opened in 1925, the hotel was awarded its 5th star in 2010, becoming the first French hotel to officially become a ‘Palace’. Since 1978 it has been owned by the Oetkers, one of Europe’s richest families. Madame Oetker still takes pride in visiting Le Bristol once a month. She is responsible for choosing the unique designs in each room (180 in total). They are carefully and tastefully decorated using chintz and silk curtains that match the sofas and Persian carpets. Hermés toiletries adorn the rooms in keeping with the opulence.
However, maintaining the hotel to a 5 star standard comes at a hefty price. The Oetkers have continually renovated and extended since they took ownership, whilst still maintaining the old style French feel. In 2009 a large renovation programme was launched costing more than 100 million Euros. Highlights include, two signature suites, the Spa will be doubled and the Restaurant Gastronomique will open out onto a 1200ms French style garden in July 2011.
Le Bristol supplies special touches. There is coffee from 6:30 am for business travellers, complimentary shoe shine and 24 hour laundry service. For children’s entertainment, treasure hunts are organised in the hotel, culminating in the kids receiving ‘Hippolyte’ the little rabbit cuddly toy that is designed to remind them of the garden.
Another cuddly addition to Le Bristol is a Sacré kitten called Fa raon from Burma. He reminds you a little of the image of Le Chat Noir (the black cat). It was an iconic 19th century cabaret in the bohemian Montmartre district. Fa raon wanders through the garden into the hotel bar and through the lobby, fitting into the splendour of his surroundings like he was always meant to be there. He may not be black – in fact he is white with piercing blue eyes, but he entertains the guests just like bygone years. (not just the kids).
By far the jewel in the crown of Le Bristol is its gastronomic perfection. The three – Michelin-star restaurant, lead by Chef Eric Frechon, is popular with the hard to please Parisians as well as visitors. One can sample Bresse hen basted in wine and presented in an inflated cows bladder.
For the less culinary adventurous, the luxurious new brasserie ‘Le 114 Faubourg’ is ideal. Carla Bruni Sarkozy often holds court at 114 Faubourg were you can indulge in pata negra (black Iberian pig) and carpaccio of langoustine on a bed of pea risotto. Fabulous desserts by Laurent Jeannin, Le Bristol’s talented pastry-chef, include definitely the best Millefeuille in Paris with salty caramel ice cream. To further establish its reputation the brasserie also hosts wine evenings. A wine grower selected by chief Sommelier, Marco Pelletier, presents one of his wines in person; the wine is then featured on the menu for the month.
Didier Le Calvez, General Manager of Le Bristol, commented: “We were thrilled to assist Woody Allen, the cast and crew during the making of Midnight in Paris last summer… and are delighted that Le Bristol features alongside such a distinguished cast.”
A distinguished cast for a distinguished hotel. Mc Adams describes Midnight in Paris as ‘a love letter’ to the city of light. Within that city the glow of Hotel Le Bristol shines the brightest.
Hotel Le Bristol: www.lebristolparis.com
Secrets of the Concierge: www.lebristolparisconcierges.blogspot.com