Le Bris­tol has been a favourite with the fash­ion­able since open­ing in the 1920s, from screen sirens to de­sign­ers. Amelia Hunger­ford fol­lows them through the leg­endary ho­tel’s re­volv­ing doors.

Signature Travel & Lifestyle - - Contents -

Le Bris­tol car­ries the style and el­e­gance of decades gone by into the 21st cen­tury

Just two blocks back from the chaos and selfie-tak­ing tourists of the Champs-Élysées, the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is a breath of Parisian fresh air. The nar­row street in the eighth ar­rondisse­ment – which shares its real es­tate with the pres­i­den­tial Élysée Palace and em­bassies and am­bas­sado­rial res­i­dences for the UK, the US, Canada and Ja­pan – is best known for its high-end shop­ping. After Her­mès es­tab­lished its epony­mous horse har­ness and bri­dle store at num­ber 24 (where it re­mains to this day, al­beit with a rather more di­verse prod­uct line-up) in 1880, in­ter­na­tional lux­ury brands have sought to es­tab­lish them­selves on the world’s most fash­ion­able street.

It is in this mi­lieu that Le Bris­tol has es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion for im­pec­ca­ble lux­ury, ser­vice and dis­cre­tion since open­ing in 1925. Liver­ied door­men usher guests into a mar­ble lobby where the el­e­gance of the 18th cen­tury lives on in an­tique rugs, paint­ings, Go­belins ta­pes­tries and a bust of Louis XVI (pre1793 de­cap­i­ta­tion) that seems to be say­ing “Révo­lu­tion? Quelle révo­lu­tion?”.

This is the his­toric core of Le Bris­tol, the cen­tre that hote­lier Hip­polyte Jam­met con­verted from the Comte de Castel­lane’s Parisian man­sion into a glam­orous sec­ond home for the well­heeled. It has since been joined by the Res­i­dence wing (a for­mer con­vent) and, most re­cently, the Matignon wing, which opened in 2009. At its heart is a rare fea­ture for a Parisian ho­tel: a French gar­den. It has been turned into a for­est of Christ­mas trees for win­ter, but those with a keen eye will be able to see where a rose gar­den will soon be flour­ish­ing. In sum­mer, ta­bles from the three-Miche­lin-starred Epi­cure, ex­ec­u­tive chef Eric Fre­chon’s su­perb gourmet res­tau­rant, spill out onto the ter­race and chil­dren pa­trol the fountain and flower beds in search of Le Bris­tol’s fluffy fe­line res­i­dent, Fa-Raon.

Cakes and cock­tails

Guests brav­ing the chill take tea and sip cham­pagne in the colon­nade, the air gen­tly per­fumed by or­ange trees, while oth­ers re­cline in Café An­to­nia un­der the painted gaze of Marie-An­toinette. Although the ill-fated queen al­most cer­tainly never said ‘Let them eat cake’, re­sist­ing the tiered af­ter­noon tea ser­vice or one of the ex­quis­ite gâteaux on of­fer seems an in­sult to her mem­ory.

Even break­fast at Le Bris­tol is an un­miss­able event. Each pas­try is crisp and flaky, the juice fresh, and the bowl of ber­ries a work of art. The sig­na­ture soft-boiled eggs – topped with caviar, a dash of maple syrup and gold leaf – ar­rive with a flour­ish, ac­com­pa­nied by pe­tits sol­dats just right for dip­ping.

On the Av­enue Matignon side of the ho­tel at one-Miche­lin-starred brasserie, 114 Faubourg, the at­mos­phere is more con­tem­po­rary than nos­tal­gic, with the two-course prix-fixe lunch a favourite for shop­pers and lo­cals alike.

At night, Le Bar du Bris­tol is a chic haven of an­i­mal prints and avant-garde art, with a DJ play­ing to ac­com­pany the al­chem­i­cal cock­tails and Fre­chon’s cu­rated tapas menu.

The deca­dence con­tin­ues in the 190 rooms and suites, each one bear­ing a unique 18th-cen­tury-in­spired de­sign un­der the di­rec­tion of Maja Oetker, the ma­tri­arch of the own­ing Oetker fam­ily. An­tique fur­ni­ture, rich silks, spa­cious mar­ble bath­rooms and swirling flo­rals galore com­bine to cre­ate a sense of so­phis­ti­ca­tion that bal­ances the finest qual­ity with a lived-in warmth.

Our Ju­nior Suite in the Matignon wing has a small bal­cony with ta­ble and chairs, and a pri­vate view of the Eif­fel Tower sparkling in the dark.

Lit­tle won­der the fam­ily-owned ho­tel was one of the first to boast France’s above-five-star Palace rat­ing. From its cel­e­brated din­ing to its La Prairie spa, Le Bris­tol of­fers every­thing you could ask for in a Parisian pied-à-terre. oetk­er­col­lec­

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