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Paris de luxe

Amy Tara Koch tells you how to have a five-star hotel experience in Paris without booking a room

Amy Tara Koch | NYT 

Le Royal Monceau
Le Royal Monceau

Even if you don’t have the budget to book a room at one of the city’s five-star hotels, you can still dip your toe into Parisian glitz and glamour by splurging on one of these on-property experiences.

Dinner at V Restaurant

Seated in one of the leather banquettes beneath the romantic stained-glass dome designed by Gustave Eiffel, it’s impossible not to have a pinch-me-I’m-in-moment. With only 35 seats, V Restaurant is a paean to the talents of the chef Richard Robe, a master of French gastronomy who coaxes intense flavour from seasonal products and delights in reimagining historic dishes for contemporary diners. This winter, à la carte highlights include the V pie — a puff pastry filled with a savoury mélange of duck, foie gras and porcini mushrooms — and a modern take on an 18th-century recipe, Lievre à la Royale: slow-braised rabbit stuffed with foie gras and a roulade of Parmesan-crusted cannelloni pasta brimming with stewed meat and crushed juniper berries. The seven-course tasting menu (€95) balances richness with lighter, acidic dishes: think crayfish carpaccio with avocado and passion fruit purée, risotto laced with chanterelle mushrooms and chorizo, and “Le Chocolat” puffed pastry for dessert. Hotel Vernet, 25 Rue Vernet, 75008 Paris

Cocktails at the Duc de Morny Library

A brush with Belle Époque glamour can be had at this mansion-turned-hotel originally built for Napoléon III’s half brother, the Duc de Morny. The bar is one option. But, the splendid library, a jewel-toned nook with coffered ceilings, herringbone parquet floors and deep green furnishings set off by walls lined with 3,000 antique books from the 19th century, offers an intimate ambience, especially if you nab a seat in front of the (original) wood-burning fireplace. Here, you can enjoy a signature cocktail like the Femme Fatale — Champagne mixed with lime, cucumber and elderflower liqueur, or the Bain de Folie, a sweet blend of raspberries, lime, Hendrick’s gin, Chambord, egg white and fresh mint. La Réserve, 42 Avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris

Cooking class at the Ritz Paris

Don a toque and take a half-day course at the prestigious Ritz Escoffier cooking school and then consume your creations ensemble with the chef and newfound friends. The three-hour, sweet-and-savoury course (€150 per person) involves dishes like roasted duckling filet with quince and creamy polenta, along with desserts like warm molten chocolate cake with orange custard. If pastry is your passion, there are classes focusing on Madeleines, modern tarts, macarons and all things chocolate (€110-140 per person). You’ll go home with printed recipes and a chic Ritz apron. Hôtel Ritz Paris, 15 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris

Art experience at Le Royal Monceau

With an in-house art concierge, its own 99-seat cinema and avant-garde artworks installed throughout the hotel, this five-star property (pictured) has firmly staked its claim as the “artsy” one. On Sunday evenings, non-hotel guests can attend a private screening at Katara Cinema (€40 per person), which includes a glass of Champagne and a cone of caramelised popcorn by the hotel’s acclaimed pastry chef, Pierre Hermé. Or pop outside to the holiday-themed Winter Terrace for a Veuve Clicquot tasting experience in an alpine-feeling chalet. Le Royal Monceau, 37 Avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris

Afternoon tea at Four Seasons George V

From the moment you strut through the grand wrought-iron door, past the fairy tale floral arrangements (the hotel uses approximately 14,000 blooms per week) and settle into a perch at La Galerie as a pianist plays, you’ll feel the force of swank à la française. With tea or, better yet, Champagne (€60 per person), you’ll enjoy a selection of scones, financiers, artful pastries and savoury bites like blini with salmon and cauliflower cream. For the holidays, the new pastry chef, Michael Bartocetti, has designed a speciality Christmas tea featuring Candied cédrat pie with lemon caviar, Parisian flan, spiced quince pastry and the pièce de résistance, an orchid-shaped Yule log fashioned of almond biscuit interlaced with a thin layer of crunchy hazelnut with vanilla scented cream (€95 per person). To extend the experience, sign on for a made-to-measure massage in the glamorous, just-revamped spa (€130). Four Seasons George V, 31 Avenue George V, 75008 Paris, France

@ 2019 The New York Times

First Published: Sat, December 21 2019. 02:07 IST
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