It is early morning at Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris. Suite 341 looks lovely at any hour, with flowers, a profusion of them. They cascade down out of tall vases, they nestle in little low vases. Some displays are only pink, others are pink and white. They smell divine if you get really close. There are four alert, suited guys to say Bonjour as the gal heads out, and turns right down Avenue Hoche to Parc de Monceau – hence the name one Pierre Bedmont gave to his beautiful building back in 1928 – for a pre-dawn run, five minutes there, five back (park not yet open). Head down to the hotel’s well-equipped Technogym, total five attendants, no other users. Head for the pool, a white delight, its surrounding walls either white curtains or white wall covered in silver-edged mirrors. The loungers have the same embroidered white linens as on my bed last night. The pale blue pool is at least 70 feet long, and afterwards there is a pale blue-topped spin dryer to squeeze the water from the bikini.
Breakfast, in La Cuisine, its end wall a back-lit symphony of displayed bottles, right up to the multi-hued ceiling, from which hangs six giant crystal chandeliers. There are three alcoves, topped by six foot-high silver urns, also ceiling-hung, but on a summery day the business breakfasts, all in grey suits, prefer to be either out on the terrace or near the windows. The juice is delightfully full of orange bits, there are at least six yoghurt choices, and you help yourself to a Bordier butter, on a slate slab, and fabulous Pierre Hermès breads, into your personal paper-lined wire ‘egg basket’. I read the Financial Times and muse. It is all very well having a Starck club for cigar smokers but what about Successful (nonsmoking) Females? Hotel GM Omer Acar, a few hours after arriving in from a business trip to Doha, is already patrolling his fief, greeting all staff and any guests he knows by name, happens to pass by at this point. What about us girls, Omer? Is this where a Girlahead Club is to be born?
Time to look at the literature in the room. There is a printed invitation, as if personal, from the Art Concierge, giving me a different idea for this very week. Monday, for instance, could have been a visit to the Helmut Newton exhibition. Wish there had been time for that. Thursday go to Art Paris, and Sunday is definitely the last chance to get to Drawing Now Paris at the Louvre. Another letter suggests a visit to Le Royal Eclaireur, the simply stunning boutique that runs a full 40 yards along avenue Hoche to showcase the collectibles, including Céline and Matthew Williamson frocks, skillfully bought and displayed by Mr Fashion, Armand Hadida. From a previous visit, I know I need time to get back to the other in-hotel shop, full of books and knicknacks and a logical growth, so to speak, of the concierges’ desk.
But now it IS time, to head back down to the spa. The private elevator from the five Presidential Suites in this hotel cleverly takes you right down to one end of the long-long spa corridor. This is a brilliant white pathway, flanked by ceiling-hung full-length curtains. The only colour is from back-illuminated cosmetics on display, and a sign that says MyBlend. At the main desk, a woman in white shirt and black trousers hands me to a woman in a black trouser suit. In the changing room, all white of course, I put on a white robe, am greeted by Dorothée, in a dark grey pyjama suit. She takes me through to a cocoon of a room. I like on a bed with finest linens, from a firm called RKF. It is impossible to describe the next hour as I sleep throughout, as if prescribed by an orthopedic surgeon.
MyBlend by Clarins is a creation of Dr Olivier Courtin, son of Jacques Courtin-Clarins who started Clarins in 1954 – wonder what he, who sadly is now creating through the pearly gates, would say if he knew that over three-quarters of financially-able self-preserving English females are said to use Clarins, which is now owned by Estée Lauder. Now as it happens the son, Olivier, is an orthopedic surgeon, who specialized in female sports injuries until he joined the family firm. What he has come up with for MyBlend is cell synergy complex, a blend of two powerful cocktails (Cell Synergy Day and Cell Synergy Night) which apparently dramatically improve the skin’s intercellular communication – even, in this particular case, when one is asleep.
Wake up, for the second time in this glorious day. It is not even officially spring but the weather is almost summer-like. Coffee-takers, late morning, spill out into the Royal Monceau’s garden, surrounded Paris style by tall apartment buildings. But you do not look up, you look across, to a ten-foot high wire-mesh teapot. This is art, by Joana Vasconcelos. Quick visit, gal, back to some more of the displays here, the 14 lifesize animals, on the first floor staircase landing, made of unpainted recycled wood (‘artist’ is Nikolay Polissky). Gracing the overhead of the lowest level of the staircase, leading to the main lobby lounge, is a mix of clear-glass chandeliers, rescued from the former décor when the hotel was redesigned by Philippe Starck four years ago. He it was, of course, who put a bookshelf around all the lobby lounge’s columns, but at a height of some 12 feet… Starck, again. Oh how this area, lower staircase and lobby lounge continuing through to the La Cuisine all-day dining and out on to the terrace, would be ideal for Paris fashion shows… enough musings, time to move on.