The experience of Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris starts in the Range Rover before your arrival. Today, it is expected that luxury hotels’ vehicles have Wifi (and Wifi that works, which is not the same thing), and, ideally, water, kleenex and today’s international newspapers. It is also good to have smartphone chargers, a copy of the hotel’s room service menu for ordering ahead, and a map of the destination. This hotel thoughtfully also includes what could be called a care board of necessities, set between the back seats’ shared central arm. Now the gal has anything she might possibly want on the too-short journey across the City of Light.
It happens to be gloriously sunny in Paris at the moment, and springtime brings a lighter step, and more smiles, to everyone. Those coming to try Hokkaido-born Hideki Endo’s cuisine at Matsuhisa are certainly happy – and so they should be, as the 96-seat restaurant will be completely full by the time later-hour lunch bookings arrive. Apparently an increasing number of diners, both lunch and dinner, are coming from other hotels (the restaurant knows this as reservations are made by hotel concierges). There are also regular, dark-suited businessmen, and always-chic businesswomen, heavy on fashion and financial sectors, and ladies who lunch. For me, lunch choices here are simple.
Sashimi – as above – is followed by a baby spinach salad with miso dressing, and that Nobu Matsuhisa perennial, black cod. Nobu-san will be here at the hotel in May 2017, and he will hold four sushi-making classes, ten lucky students at a time. Gosh, every Paris-based enthusiast will want to sign up for that. But there is always a lot going on at this 149-room hotel. It is unique, among Paris hotels, in having its own screening room, ideal for birthday parties and product launches, and for buy-a-ticket movie nights, complete with bubbly, and Pierre Hermé popcorn. Oh boy, the Pierre Hermé brand must be almost as valuable as the Raffles name: it seems that this fourth-generation Alsatian baking and patisserie tradition has to thank his business partner, Charles Znaty, for making him into a global giant (Znaty is an entrepreneur who manages four other labels, too).
The Pierre Hermé website lists partnerships not only with Raffles but also with Ritz-Carlton, a clever business concept which thus extends the Hermé name, if wanted, right into both the luxury branches of the Accorhotels family, via Raffles, and the Marriott clan, via Ritz-Carlton (I do remember the beautiful Pierre Hermé boutique in the lobby of one of Japan’s most memorable luxury hotels, Ritz-Carlton Kyoto). Just as Nobu Matsuhisa would never have become an icon without the push of Robert De Niro and the financial prowess of Meir Teper, so Pierre Hermé obviously needs Charles Znaty. Sheer creativity is not enough these days. As I left the lovely Matsuhisa restaurant, I thought again how cleverly it converts from day and evening to morning, breakfast, use.