But there are so many places to dine at France’s newest luxury hotel, The Peninsula Paris, which opened August 1st. As well as LiLi’s, where tables most loved by Parisians are the high-backed booths for privacy from the prying eyes of celebrity spotters, the ultimate venue could well be the Chef’s Table. Look at it, right off the Chinese section of the kitchen. To justify all this dining, of course, you need to use calories in advance. Being Peninsula you can be sure there is an excellent spa (ESPA) and a good gym, which they volunteered to open for the gal, without being asked, ahead of the stated 6.30 am door opening. Sadly, there was no time on this visit to try the 95-foot pool.
I was far too busy exploring, taking one of the two gorgeous rectangular staircases with complicated wrought-iron banisters, 186 steps from ground floor to the sixth floor rooftop. There, I looked across to the private rooftop gardens of the five, fifth-floor top-level suites. Look in another direction to Sacré Coeur and another way to the Eiffel Tower. We were back up there for dinner, at the rooftop L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant, with an outdoor terrace that attracts many, summer long. We dined inside, in what is best described as a glass cloche big enough for 42 diners (yes, you MUST book, and far ahead) plus a lifesize plane engine and airport runway lighting. As the evening wears on, the illuminations of both the above sights become more apparent and every hour, on the hour, the lighting on the Eiffel Tower rushes up and down.
Why L’Oiseau Blanc? All Peninsulas have an aeronautical something or other. L’Oiseau Blanc was the biplane in which WWI aces François Coli and Charles Nungesser were attempting, on 9 May 1927, to cross the Atlantic before Lindbergh – a full-size replica hangs in the void next to the restaurant. The menu is even printed in an early aviation script, and you can choose chef Sidney Redel’s Oscar Bravo lunchtime menu, or Sierra Bravo at night – sorry, cannot eat that much, but I adored the warm Isigny salmon, followed by sole, and full marks to a sommelier who can put decent wines on from nine euros per glass, and full bottles from 25 euros.
Lots-of-style Parisians like their early morning coffee, with perhaps merely a croissant and a look at a newspaper. This ever-hungry traveller needs a proper breakfast, and this luxury hotel can do it, but there is no buffet. Breakfast is in another dining venue, an all-day, all-evening glorious double-height room, with columns and gilded and frescoed ceilings, and four really big classical chandeliers. As always, Asians are the other early breakfasters – as always, Americans, and the Europeans who do ‘do’ breakfast, arrive with a buzz, later. It was a simple and elegant start to another day of paradise here in Paris. Yes, simply elegant sums it up. That was my reaction, too, when Peninsula’s Rob Cheng showed photos of the hotel at ILTM Americas in Mayakoba, yesterday, September 22nd, 2014.