ritz, hostel, palace

A user’s guide to the Ritz

ritz, hostel, palace
The starred restaurant Les Jardins de L’Espadon: langoustine cannelloni with spring cabbage.
ritz, hostel, palace

O comme oser Oser voyager dans une ville inconnue sans jamais ouvrir la porte de la voiture qui vous transporte. Voir quotidiennement, selon un horaire invariable, le même décor derrière une vitre. Omettre le reste, sauf les noms.

O as in opting Opting boldly to travel through an unknown city without ever opening the car door. Seeing the same sights out the window, day in day out, at the same time of day. Omitting the rest, except the names.

ritz, hostel, palace
The Neoclassicalpool in the Ritz Club, an oasis of calm in the Parisian luxury hotel.

Luxury hotels can be intimidatingwhich is probably what makes them so terribly magnetic. You hesitate, hardly dare enter. But once you’re through the revolving door, you’re transported into another world. You don’t have to be a guest at the Ritz in order to experience its magic.

The garden For a few years it was ignored, forgotten, like a rural backwater. But as part of its major renovation project, the hotel brought this 1,600-square-meter hidden corner back to lifewith its customary discretion. White roses, magnolias and clipped lime trees await. There are nooks and crannies, arbors and alcoves. The scene is set to plan the next step: a confidential dinner at nightfall, fresh salads, ceviche and sinful cocktails. It’s time to seal the deal.

 

The concept store As soon as you peek inside the door of this somewhat pernicious space, you know there’s no escape. You need an incredibly cool head and a heart of stone to resist all the temptations scattered around the hotel’s boutique. There’s nothing predictable here, as your gaze travels from one shelf to another: a pair of prism glasses for bed, a huge wide-brimmed hat by Maison Michel, a handsome boater, Daneson’s flavored toothpicks, a Misoka travel toothbrush that cleans your teeth without toothpaste. Even your feet move to the languid beat of the seductive summer songs of the 1970s. Knickknacks and trinkets, little teddy bears, keepsakes, featherswithout your even realizing it, time has slowed right down: too late, my dear, you’re trapped.

 

The starred restaurants Gourmet fare can be perfectly delicious, we’ll grant you, but also rather tedious when it goes on and on, spilling over into your evening, dangerously trying your patience. A meal in the starred restaurant, expertly executed within an hour, will provide peaceful relief, enabling you to enjoy langoustine cannelloni with spring cabbage and Meursault sauce or green asparagus at its very best. That’s what modern luxury is all about: having more time for yourself, for your companion, for another coffee, who knows. For daydreaming, for pondering. Or better still, for arriving early at your next engagement, savoring as you do this irresistible urban extravagance.

The spa There is definitely something intoxicating about this place. At first, you slip inside timidly, gradually becoming more confident. You push open one door, then another. After a while, the hotel adopts you, gives you the keys and starts to show its cards. There’s the cooking school, of course, but there’s also a hidden gem: the vast Ritz spa, covering more than 1,500 square meters, with its monumental indoor pool, fitness room, beauty parlor by Chanel and several unexpected treats, like the David Mallet hair salon with a slogan that says it all: “glamour ultra naturel.” Beware though, this is the beginning of a Ritz addiction.

 

The ice cream stand The strong point of luxury hotels is that they sometimes indulge our weaknesses, without taking advantage of them. Far from it. There’s nothing stopping you slipping into that hushed, amber-scented world, and sitting for a few moments in one of the armchairs in the lobby. Nobody will come and disturb you. If you like, you can stay for a while and soak up the ambient serenity, watching the comings and goings of the stylish and not so stylish folk. After a while, you start to get a sense of how the place is organized, its passageways, recesses and hiding places. You can even order a coffee, or go out into the gardens and indulge in an ice cream whipped up by the head pastry chef, François Perret.

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