The Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris is as luxurious as it gets.
A week at The Hotel Plaza Athénée was the best recipe for absolute indulgence and, believe it or not, my very own detox and re-charge.
The Hotel Plaza Athénée stands as a symbol of traditional French haute couture style combined with absolute French luxury, it is a hotel that has feminine appeal, and caters to women. Dior is right outside, as are the most glamorous boutiques of the world, the only Dior Institute in Europe is within the hotel, and the interiors are akin to a modern day palace. In short, if you want to feel beautiful, stay here.
Traditionally in January, I detox at an Asian health retreat, and thanks to my job, I have been to some amazingly luxurious venues, but this year I wanted something totally different, and I found it.
It felt risqué, even naughty checking into one of the most glamorous hotels in the world whilst secretly telling myself I was there for my very own “de-tox”. Lets be honest, at these prices, it was more like a blow out, but a blow out with the absolute best of intentions, and if I had have taken a girlfriend with me, the prices would have been very similar to that of an upmarket Asian detox retreat.
I have reached a point in my life where I recognise the fragility of life. We don’t know what the future holds, so it is important to do the things we truly want to do, now, and a week in one of the absolute best hotels in Paris was something I had wanted to do for years.
Sitting beneath the flowing crystals of the enormous chandaliers eating scrambled eggs, in the flagship restaurant of arguably the world’s most lauded chef, Alain Ducasse, I was as relaxed, calm and pampered as any detox venue I have ever been to, and I felt amazing.
But I was doing it in absolute style – and (unlike health retreats) I didn’t have to turn my phone off. The staff quickly became my friends, knew what I liked, and they were super kind and attentive.
The hotel has panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower, and is steps away from The Champs Élysées. Sumptuous rooms enchant with designer furnishings and luxurious conveniences like iPad control panels for the audio, TV and air-con, compact sound systems, and a pillow menu. It is the stuff dreams are made of, and there are times in everyone’s life when dreams need to come true.
It was renovated about 20 months ago, and Alain Ducasse’s signature restaurant—a contender for best restaurant in Paris—was given a glittering new look that reflects the hotel’s haute-couture grandeur, with haute cuisine to match and three Michelin stars.
These are the reasons I loved staying in the lap of luxury and would choose it again over a traditional de-tox next January:
- A real rest: The minute I checked in, two housekeepers came and unpacked my bag, ironed my clothes and hung them out. ( They also packed my bag for me when it was time to leave.) This is the first time I have expereinced this, and the only negative was that once they had packed my back to leave, I didn’t want to then unpack it as it has never been so neat and tidy. Absolute Biss.
- Beauty treatments: The Dior institute in the hotel is the only one in Europe and sits in the basement of the hotel. It is the most luxurious I have ever seen. From the Dior catwalk beaming the latest fashions on a huge floor to ceiling screen, a stunning gold fit-out in the entrance, and treatments which transform, this was first class all the way.
The hammam and dry sauna decored in beautiful white and gold mosaics can be used as often as you like if you are an in-house guest. I used them daily to detox my skin and to de-stress.
- Dining: Alain Ducasse’s flagship Michelin star restaurant no longer serves meat, but instead, an incredible array of vegetarian and seafood dishes. Surprisingly the French are not the least bit annoyed at the lack of meat and it already has the reputation amongst well heeled Parisians as potentially the best restaurant in Europe.
- Boxing: The Hotel Plaza Athénée is the only five star hotel with its own automated boxing workout machine within the fitness centre. You simply put on some boxing gloves, watch a screen and follow what they are doing for as long or as little as you like. I worked up a huge sweat, and managed to work out solo every time. Loved it, and so easy.
- The concierge: The concierge in this hotel are some of the best in the world. From sourcing a piece of jewellery to locating the most relaxed bar in the area, these guys know and do it all seemlessly. Their English is excellent, and they are so knowledgeable, and flexible with all of the right contacts. One day I changed my restaurant booking twice and they didn’t bat an eye. So lovely.
As a mother, having someone else take care of EVERYTHING; every booking, idea, map, shopping hunt was worth anything. I really could relax.
- Breakfast: The most important meal of the day, breakfast here is the highlight of the day. The hotel was fully renovated almost 2 years ago, and the highlight of the interiors is the breakfast room. Filled with huge chandeliers, it was designed by Join Manku Design Studio and delights at every turn. From vast stainless steel domes reminicssent of the traditional domed plate cover to imbiber alcoves reminiscent of a shipping boat, this restaurant sweeps you away.
The menu is overwhelming. From fresh berries to lobster scrambled eggs, everything you could possibly imagine is here.
- Ice skating: The courtyard which comes alive with red flowers in summer is one of the highlights of the hotel, but in winter an ice skating rink and fairy lights gives it a magical glow. There is an ice skating coach every day from 3pm who can teach you how to skate and is brilliant with children. It was another way to get fit without really trying.
- The rooms: Re-decorated two years ago the rooms are absolutely beautiful. Spacious, cleverly built wardrobes, plenty of light in the bathrooms, huge showers, and elegant French interiors in the classic French style make staying here a pleasure. It is every woman’s dream to have endless space and light to dress in, and it’s here.
- It’s winter: I was most nervous about the weather, as the French winter sounded inhibiting compared to a warm Asian summer, but I quickly discovered winter in Paris has its own kind of magic. The hotel had towering Dior Christmas trees in the lobby with a gorgeous selection of toys and gifts beneath it. Twinkling lights filled the courtyard and the whole feel was romantic, elegant, luxurious and special.
- Sleep in: I am not good at sleeping in during the year, but the rooms in this hotel, the glorious beds (and the cooler weather) is a great combination to actually chill out and have a decent rest. Again, at a regular detox retreat you have to get up every day and see the sunrise, but I am up so early so often, I needed the opposite, and I got it at the Hotel Plaza Athénée.
- Running : I am a runner, and there’s no better way to increase your speed than to run with someone faster than you in ice cold weather. There are fitness coaches available at the hotel ( for a small additional cost) to run with you at any distance you like, and they can take you on a stunning scenic tour of Paris at the same time.
- Paris: This is all before even starting on the city of Paris waiting outside the hotel. Paris is such a stunning city in winter, when the entire city comes alive with lights, white frost in the mornings, decorated shop windows, hot chocolates and people decked out in some of the finest fashions you will see anywhere.
- Drivers: If you have had enough of walking around in cooler weather, the drivers at the hotel are divine, and pride themselves on knowing everything about Paris, and are happy to deliver you, wait, come back and be completely at you disposal. Now that made life easier on cold days.
- Toilets: The toilets in this hotel have to get a mention – each has their very own bidet system built in, with warm water and even a drier! You wont find anything like it in Australia any time soon.
The Hotel Plaza Athénée is a world where luxury meets calm and kindness. I wasn’t expecting that combination. I have certainly found my answer to the ultimate luxury detox – a week in the ‘Paris Plaza’ as locals call it, but a stay at this hotel is so much more than that.
From Alain Ducasse’s culinary world (he oversees all of the food even room service) to an ice skating rink, the only Dior Institute in Europe, extraordinary interiors, and the best hot chocolate in Paris, this hotel transforms you without even trying.
The only thing missing this time was my girlfriends. I am always reminded of Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex In The City Movie when I’m in the Hotel Plaza Athénée. Next time, I shall take them with me for the absolute ultimate in luxury. See you next January, X