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The Royal Treatment

It has ‘royal’ in its name and it’s a palace—but Le Royal Monceau is anything but stuffy and uptight. I visited the hotel last week and was delighted with all that I saw. This is going to be an easy hotel to recommend.

I’m generally wary of new hotels. Nothing works, the showers leak and the staff can’t find the restaurant. Not so at the Royal Monceau. They’re on ‘soft-opening’ right now which means about half of their rooms are available and the spa is still not open, but if ever there was a ship-shape hotel, it’s this. In fact, I’d say that now’s the time to come. You’ve got one of the best hotels I’ve ever seen, and were it not that the bar and restaurants are already pretty popular with the local scene, you’ve got it all to yourself.

The hotel has been shut for several years for a complete refit and is now run as part of the Raffles group—known for their smiling and friendly service, which is a cliché, but a rare one in Paris. In itself that would be of little interest, if it weren’t matched by the playfulness and sheer usability of the hotel. For sure, you’re going to want to have a fair amount of cash to play with once you’re in the door, but with that one proviso, this is a hotel that’s been designed to be enjoyed.

The stand-out is the design, both in the use of space and in the attention to detail. I would hate to see the bill for the refit. Where usually a hotel lobby will have 50 of the same types of chairs and art work bought all on the same day at the same auction, the RM has a curious collection of non-matching furniture and eclectic art work and objects, matched by a menagerie of lamps and a variety of sitting arrangements and areas; it has the overall effect of inviting you to settle in and look around. It’s far enough from the street to feel cosy, but central enough as an axis between entrance, rooms and restaurants to give some buzz and some movement. I.e.—a killer hotel lobby. It makes you want to set a movie here.

In the rooms, the same principles apply. I visited both the smallest room, and some larger suites. With a starting price around 700 EUR you don’t expect a cupboard, but neither do you expect a room with a walk-in cupboard and a bathroom bigger than my garden. The Royal Monceau’s bathrooms are so utterly coated in mirrors that I kept expecting the evil Dr. Han to leap out and attack. In actual fact the only real danger comes from not figuring out how the steam shower works.

So the rooms are large, and they’re really well appointed. Again, someone’s spent a lot of time on the details. The linen is beautiful, the organic soaps are made for the hotel, the coat hangers are terrific, all the doors and cupboards shut like they’re in a BMW. What’s more, there’s a guitar in each room, and you get complimentary espadrilles.

Currently there’s a French restaurant (serving à la carte and menus) and a gastronomic Italian restaurant (serving only à la carte), with a bistro opening in early ’11. I’m sorry to say that my photos of the Italian restaurant did not work, because the walls are entirely covered with several million sea shells. The French restaurant has a 50’s flavour to it which continues in parts of the main lounge.

It would be easy to say that the Royal Monceau makes a great addition to the Palace hotels because it doesn’t take itself seriously, but I have a feeling it takes itself really seriously indeed—so should all the over-priced Palace hotels across the city competing for the same clients. This is a hotel we will recommend without hesitation.

Jack Dancy can be found in the Royal Monceau lobby with his laptop, Monday to Friday, from 9 to 5. Incidentally, our Paris office is now up for sublet.

Now's the time to come. You've got one of the best hotels I've ever seen, and were it not that the bar and restaurants are already pretty popular with the local scene, you've got it all to yourself.

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