Indulging in France's best hotel

Indulging in France's best hotel
Close enough to the main drag of Champs Elysee without being part of the touristy hustle and bustle, Le Bristol has long been the hangout of the discreet who's who.

You've heard of pet hotels. How about a human hotel where the cat in charge decides if he wants to greet you or lounge around in an empty banquet hall, arching his neck to show off his Goyard collar?

But you're not totally ignored as there are enough humans to take care of your needs in the quietly elegant Hotel Bristol on Paris's chi-chi Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.

Close enough to the main drag of Champs Elysee without being part of the touristy hustle and bustle, Le Bristol has long been the hangout of the discreet who's who. But it has also attracted enough well-heeled regular folk who liked it enough to vote it the best hotel in France in Trip Advisor Traveller's Choice 2014. Classified as a "Palace Hotel", Le Bristol served its first guests in 1925 when owner Hippolyte Jamet set out to create Paris's most luxurious hotel in keeping with its gentrified surroundings where saddle maker Hermes and dressmaker Jean Lanvin set up their first shops. As more big fashion names moved in, Rue du Fauborg Saint-Honore became the ultra-luxe street in Paris, while Le Bristol became a magnet for celebrities such as Kim Novak and Charlie Chaplin.

In 1978, the hotel was acquired by the German Oetker family - they of the popular frozen Dr Oetker pizzas. Since then, it's been through several makeovers and extensions, upping the luxury ante each time. It's also changed cute mascots - from the fluffy garden rabbit named Hippolyte to current pampered house cat Fa-raon, who's a hot favourite with both kids and adults.

He is of course not the only celebrity in the hotel. Helming the three Michelin-starred restaurant Epicure is Chef Eric Frechon who pulls off elaborate meals for those who want the full dining experience. If not, follow the elegant lunch crowd to the one-starred 114 Faubourg, where Chef Eric Desbordes shows off proficient brasserie fare such as creamy artichoke soup with minced black truffle and foie gras.

But what really seals the deal is when you finish dinner at a fancy French restaurant and ask them to call you a cab to take you back to the hotel. When the maître d asks where you're staying, you can see his eyebrows rise conspicuously as he then smiles approvingly. And when your cab pulls up in front of the hotel entrance, you can truly say you've arrived - in more ways than one.

This article was published on April 19 in The Business Times.

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