So Emily – sorry, Girlahead – set out for Paris, if only to prove that the unfounded rumours of an invasion of bed-invaders must surely have been a prime example of misinformation (Fayna Ait-Said, GM of a charming always-full 47-room family-run Preferred hostelry, HOTEL MAYFAIR, three minutes’ walk from either Rue Honoré St Faubourg or the Tuileries, relies more or less exclusively on Americans and Japanese and, while admitting two or three had made contact beforehand. she said there had not been a single cancellation).
Ten minutes’ walk north, INTERCONTINENTAL PARIS LE GRAND, which now has 456 rooms, also seemed to be full. There were a couple of delegations in town but then everyone wants to come and see Macron right now, what with the Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics. Since its 1862 opening, Le Grand has consistently attracted leaders, from royalty to entertainment kings and queens, and it’s handy for the Elysée Palace, and, right next door, Opera Garnier, currently partly obscured under a Tiffany fake proscenium while the crumbling stones beneath are given a much-needed blow-dry.
It’s such a grande dame of a hotel. The elevator lobby is a museum-piece of marble and wood polished to high-gloss mirror level. Café de la Paix, of which more later, seems like 1862 transported by Dr Who to 2024 (yes, it’s really ahead of its time if you think of the new Paris foodie trend of back to grandma’s dishes).
In so many ways Intercontinental Paris Le Grand is way ahead. Some rooms, say 5411, have somehow been reconfigured so that they are reached up 20 private stairs. Emerge to a most empathetic soft-tones suite, Pierre-Yves Rochon design. Look out at what is not Tiffany-ed of the Opera. Stay in, and devour books of the area, plus tomes on Chanel and Dior.
Talking of devouring, the image above is a view through the internal window of the first floor Club lounge. This is an absolutely admirable facility. Once a meeting room, then a gym, it is now an elegant Empire space, comfy chairs and soft colours, and superbly professional staff. Girlahead loved breakfast there. Sit up, or down. Bauscher china, Degrenne cutlery. Well-labelled foods. Fleurs de Ferme yoghurt, wrapped Lescure butters, bowls of whole fruits, coils of superb smoked salmon, eggs brought to order and croissants that only the French can do. Soft music playing, as Netflix would ‘subtitle’. Emily never had it as good as this.