Yes, stay at Trianon Palace Versailles, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel for serious exercise. As well as running, biking, jogging or whatever around the entire Versailles complex, the luxury hotel has two gyms, one 24/7 and the other, down two floors by the pool, only open during the spa opening hours (the spa, the only Guerlain in France, has 13 treatment rooms and is busy with local beauties as all French realise the importance of looking after face and body). The spa-fitness has a sizeable local membership and, even in September, many were sunbathing on loungers set around the pool.
The hotel is now owned by the same entrepreneur as Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa. He bought this one from Blackstone, who switched management to Waldorf Astoria, one of its Hilton brands. Blackstone spent heavily in redecorating, by Richmond International – love the pale heathers and creams in the bedrooms – and also in restaurant appeal. Blackstone brought in Gordon Ramsay, who has not always ‘worked’ when partnering with Hilton. Here, the restaurant works absolutely splendidly, and Gordon himself comes to visit regularly. There are so many lovely touches. See these giant cones of Bordier butter, one unsalted and plain, the other lemon flavoured.
Choose your preferred butter and the server takes two old-fashioned wood butter paddles and pats the shape into your own personal cone. Grissini, wrapped in linen, are put on the table with you, and the first amuse might be an assortment of one-bites, including lollipops of beef tartare topped with caper ice-cream. Next, tonight, came a cold consommé poured, from a Riedel decanter, into iced squash cups. By that time you are really in a good mood for your food-proper, say a highlight dish of roast yellowfin tuna with forest perfume, with a glass of Vosne-Romanée 2011.
Fortunately one of this luxury hotel’s two gyms opens 24/7, so I was able to work out before checking emails and getting to breakfast. I expected to share that only with the dozen or so Asians staying here but, what a surprise, the breakfast room was nearly full. The conventioneers and meeting-goers staying in the parallel Pavilion hotel, who share facilities with the main palace hotel, obviously start work early. Impressively, the servers coped magnificently, the buffets were complemented by a chef who turned out eggs over-easy at lightning speed and I barely had time to appreciate the view over Versailles park before I had finished. And in under half an hour I was back in the centre of Paris.