Sybaritic Single has finally crossed the doorstep of one of the 2018’s most anticipated luxury hotels and found himself inside a temple of taste – even the flower arrangements in the lobby featured bright orange carrots. Located in a 1830s Haussmann building just off Rue Royale and Boulevard Malesherbes, the 54-room Fauchon L’Hôtel replaced Baccarat’s flagship boutique and became a first in the newest hotel empire of Jacques-Olivier Chauvin (President and CEO, Fauchon Hospitality) who aims to open 20 properties over the next decade with a focus on Japan, Europe and the Middle East.
The most iconic Parisian gourmet store since 1886, Fauchon already attempted to enter luxury travel in 1994 with Le Fauchon, a 35-metre yacht offering bespoke culinary itineraries to the most devoted fauchonistas. However, the offering was too niche and the yacht was sold only a year later for less than half the original price.
Today, Fauchon becomes synonymous with boutique hotels where glamour is at the heart of the new operation and is called GLAM: Gourmet, Location, Attention and Mesdames. The Sybaritic Single loved the members of the front office team who were both very young, very attractive and very efficient. In the past, many hotels tried to develop the right talent who would check you in, be your concierge and answer any question – and most have failed, including the Armani Hotel in Dubai which failed heavily. However, it doesn’t seems to be the case at Fauchon where its team members, including the general manager, are prepared to do anything at any time day or night, even take guests for a private sightseeing jog.The Sybaritic Single also noted meticulous attention to detail in his room: bathrobes in two sizes and slippers in three, bathroom amenities were top-quality Carita, who are also responsible for the spa. The infamous Dyson hairdryer came in signature fuchsia in a pink leather coffret, however the Sybaritic Single is not a fan of that particular device: “Form over substance”.
On the other hand, the glossy pink in-room gourmet bar is a game-changer, stocked with a dozen complimentary Fauchon products which align with each of the guest’s tastes: sweet, savory, healthy or a mix of all three. The Sybaritic Single wore a smile of approval as he discovered rosé Champagne, foie gras with truffle, biscuits with Parmesan and more truffles, a very wide selection of teas and raspberry macarons in his. The gourmet bar itself is a work of art, designed by Sacha Lakic of Roche Bobois and available for purchase.
Sipping Champagne with the in-room treats and anything imagined by a private chef, overlooking the Madeleine Church and the bustling Parisian life, was a wonderful way to spend the entire weekend. Staying at this luxury hotel kept evoking memories of Marco Ferreri’s “La Grande Bouffe”. Interestingly, all dishes for that infamous 1973 film were also provided by Fauchon. By the time the Sybaritic Single left his room, he felt so full that he could barely taste anything at The Grand Café or Le Jardin des Thés downstairs. In fact, he could not think of food – Fauchon or else – for the entire following week.
Outside The Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington DC there are, as shown above, Shinola bikes: this is the Detroit-based leather company owned by venture capitalist Tom Kartsotis who bundled Shinola with Wisconsin’s Waterford Precision Cycles to form Shinola bicycles, Made in America. The gal arrived on foot, walking past the opening to The Record, the luxury hotel’s lowest level bar. Even though the street entrance has now been sealed off for security reasons and you must enter via the hotel itself, The Record remains a magnet for early-evening drinking, both for hotel guests and outsiders. They are undoubtedly attracted not only by the ambience and service but by the unique and highly collectible coasters that feature hilarious cartoons of political characters.
I was lunching with Colette Marquez, the Dutch-born Hotel Manager, upstairs in the main restaurant, an elegant room designed, like the whole of the 145-room hotel, by Thomas Pheasant – a specialist in ‘residential’ designs. This is, apparently, Pheasant’s only hotel project, although it has just been announced that he is re-doing the lobby of Rosewood Washington, in Georgetown (during its six-month closure, from October 17th, 2018, the hotel will add six standalone adjacent townhouses, each one bedroom). Here at the Hay-Adams, the owner, Bernard Saul, might well have chosen Thomas Pheasant because he did Blair House, official guest-house for The White House.
Wedgwood cup and saucer
My burrata was an exquisite art work, with lots of taste, and I loved the raw asparagus with it. This is a kitchen that has, long before it became commonplace, worked for years with local farmers to get the freshest produce. Elegance and luxury at this independent hotel include the best possible in food, and the serving containers. Interestingly, in the current world of white china, Colette Marquez told me some regulars longed for the patterned china of previous years. Now, therefore, they have new patterned Wedgwood, as shown. It is gorgeous, even though it is not ‘Made in America’.
The name Fairmont evokes comfort and ‘welcome home’. Increasingly, says the gal, it also indicates continual elements of surprise (think back a few days, for instance, to the sensational fitness centre at Fairmont Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg). Fairmont Washington DC Georgetown has had a complete new-look over the last few years, says Christian Klaus, Director of Ops at the 413-room luxury hotel. The lobby, by Forrest Perkins, is now light-bright, with a big horseshoe-shaped sit-up bar, and a welcome table that is difficult to describe – see it above, and to the left.
There are so many striking elements to this comfortable hotel. Take the ninth floor club lounge and its lovely team – see Manager Opal Barrett in the video below. I arrived early and while waiting for corner room 924, I got online in the lounge. Room ready now, said Opal, may I help you move? 924, a pale teal haven by Wilson Associates, was right next door to the lounge and yet there I had no way of getting online. No problem, said Opal, I will put IT on the telephone. It took a couple of minutes to realise ‘Nathan’ was neither in the hotel nor in DC nor elsewhere in the USA but in Bangalore. It turns out the Bangalore company does all Fairmont IT outsourcing: oh the marvels of modern science, or rather technology. In this case Nathan hooked me into his router in Bangalore throughout my stay.
Trying the Seeker concept
More technology came into play in the hotel lobby. An interactive pop-up studio invites you to answer Yes or No to numerous questions to determine what kind of hotel might be best suited to your interests, and then at the end it suggests properties in the entire Accor network – here, it is being trialled by Diana Bulger. Conceived by the company in partnership with Toronto-based Cossette agency, and The Mill, which has offices in both Chicago and New York, the Seeker Project, as it is called, is all part of the push to increase awareness and membership numbers of Le Club AccorHotels.
Rent-a-bike, next door
People stay at this agreeable hotel for its proximity to Georgetown, and George Washington University, and the Metro – and for the hotel’s garden, highly popular for weddings and summer lunches, and, now, for its lobby bar and lounge, and the club lounge. They also come to keep fit. The outsourced gym, open from 5.30 a.m., is serious, with lots of CrossFit and other classes. Others follow the hotel’s running map, which includes a 2.9-mile suggestion up to the US Naval Observatory and back. There are also lots of rent-a-bikes, or scooters, around: and after all this exercise, some then have the luxury of gorging on one of Jupiter restaurant’s weekly paellas, as long as it is a Tuesday. NOW SEE ROOM 924, AND THE RENOVATED CLUB LOUNGE