IN PRAISE OF THE BEYOND FABULOUS HOTEL BEL AMI, SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS, PARIS
Mr Musings and I recently moved house and have been having an internet fiasco, ripping our hair out as we furnish a new property, notify banks etc of our new location on Earth…and struggle with bad / zero internet. Cue: Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Here is the Paris adventure that you have all been waiting for, from mid-February where we ventured abroad together for the first time ever. We’d both been to Paris before with less-than-desirable companions and wanted to re-write it sans drama. More croissants than chaos!
Described on the website as ‘Modern luxury in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près’, Hotel Bel Ami promises Colours of Parisian Chic, stunning interiors and service that goes the extra mile. Everything about this boutique hotel is refreshingly different. Welcome to the left bank.
When we first entered the refreshing lobby of Hotel Bel Ami, we willingly drowned in fabulous deep indigo, silver and fresh white hues. Janet, the reception lady named after actual Janet Jackson, appeared with two infused waters (yes, Janet), talked us through the local area (2 seconds from Café de Flore - delicious) and the hotel itself. I floated off onto a dream cloud as I heard the words: “To walk in Saint-Germain-des-Près is to wander in the Paris of artists: from art galleries to museum and iconic parks, wander and discover the treats of the neighbourhood right on your doorstep."'
Our room for the next 3 days was a design-inspired suite boasting views of the streets below, dressed up in autumnal colours with stylish coffee table books, a bottle of Charles Heidsieck, fresh tangerines and some divine French chocolates. The suite was inviting, spacious and minimal - perfect for a couple looking to explore the area for a few days, needing room to relax and get ready in between excursions.
The hotel has a spa and fitness centre on the ground floor, including a fully-equipped gym open to all hotel guests (no need to ditch the workout in favour of twenty croissants, sweetie). There are two treatment rooms, a fitness area, sauna and relaxation room. If you want to get your nails done before you hit the Moulin Rouge, book in at the spa reception!
The bar serves up classic cocktails alongside any other sort of liquid lunch your heart might desire from 10.30 AM up until midnight. There is a real ‘New York lounge’ feel, the bar is clean, modern and low lit, studded with eye-catching design pieces.
Desperate for a taste of real Paris, we went round the corner and stumbled upon The Highlander, which for obvious reasons was highly poignant and relevant to our lives. Having just moved to Scotland, we thought this had to be a fun idea. After a couple of hours of sampling Scottish whiskies (Mr Musings opted for a strange banana infused rum - a Highlander home recipe), I noticed that one of the guys behind the bar is someone I used to know many moons ago. We went to college with him. What ARE the chances?
Other local gems on the doorstep:
Hank Burger. Home to the best vegan burgers in the world. Burgers and beers on a rainy day in Paris was the best idea ever. James is not 100% vegan but still loves these.
Les Deux Magots. A café historically synonymous with literary and artistic life. The world feels infinitely more romantic in here.
Café de Flore. The famous café was opened in the 1880s, during the Third Republic. It became a popular hub of famous writers and philosophers. Georges Bataille, Robert Desnos, Léon-Paul Fargue, Raymond Queneau and Pablo Picasso were regulars. Pricey but worth if you are a proud creative.
Shakespeare and Company. An incredible book shop and cultural hub. I left here with armfuls of stamped literature after sweeping the shop for beautiful books (you can definitely judge a book by its cover when in a hurry).
We savoured contemporary French cuisine in a bright and breezy restaurant setting with bold pops of pink at Hotel Bel Ami. "Les Mots Passants" serves up an incredibly satisfying French breakfast (help yourself), a popular organic brunch and a daily a la carte menu. Dishes are wholesome, delicious and served with a smile. I particularly loved the breakfast buffet, presented in the most stylish set up I’ve ever seen (love the green juice, would go back just for that).
All in all, I only have good things to say about Hotel Bel Ami. Despite the current political dramas in Paris, this hotel provided us with the impeccable quality, service and atmosphere you’d expect from a Parisian 5-star hotel. The staff were joyful, informative and attentive and helped us to navigate the city. I can’t wait to return again in the summer, we formed many happy memories here!
To book your Paris trip with Hotel Bel Ami, please visit www.hotelbelami-paris.com. Rooms are from £356 per night.