A romantic Paris hotel is a sequestered cocoon from which we can conjure imaginative stories about our fellow travelers. These may or may not be true.
Few would argue that there is no better place to be in the City of Light than a romantic Paris hotel with the one you love.
The appeal would be far, far less without its temporary nature, of course. Others who share the space during your stay will move on, just as you. But for a brief interlude, you’ll have something in common: a sequestered cocoon from which the outside world secedes. A hushed serenity in which footfalls are muffled by thick carpets and upholstered walls. A world within a world.
Gilded details befitting a regent.
A princess canopy with pillows and coverlets in profusion. Windows with elaborate wrought-iron latches which when open, send sheer curtains billowing.
If a romantic Paris hotel is the ideal way to spend your city sojourn, then second best would have to be at quiet breakfast in the same romantic Paris hotel with an hour or two to spare. Not only to dine, but to take in.
Part of the appeal of travel is freedom from outcome. Unfettered by the complications of familiarity, a traveler may observe a moment’s tiniest details in stark relief as it unfolds. Adornments painted and carved long ago, monograms on silver cutlery, incense mimicking woodsmoke in a public room to welcome a newcomer. The way a person is dressed, the things they carry, their set of mannerisms – all can evoke an imaginative story in the traveler’s mind, the truth of which is immaterial.
The woman who dines alone, hair effortlessly arranged with a tortoise shell comb, paisley shawl with fringe artlessly draped and wrapped, impossibly chic. Did she leave a lover languishing upstairs? Here he arrives with a hand on the portiere, older than expected, eyes alighting on her as she turns to meet his gaze. They smile rather than speak.
The businessman reading a German newspaper from the entry table. The older Japanese couple, he tapping on his phone, she pouring his tea. The fashion buyers going over their notes. All too soon they will fade away, and you wonder how many others like them – and you – have transited through this room in the three centuries since it was part of a family home.
The waiter, Marcel, glides swiftly and soundlessly about his tasks, disappearing and reappearing by way of a secret panel door. In an instant he is before you with a discreetly-whispered, “Madame?” Silver tongs proffer the perfect croissant or rounded hard roll from a plate draped with white linen. Another minute and he returns with vivid raspberry juice, flawlessly seedless, each sip staining your winter lips with a bit of heavenly promise.
Your coffee is poured from a personal pot sized for no more than a half cup extra at a time – it should never be cold. Marcel will replace it with a white-gloved flourish before you ask. Your omelet lies in a golden triangular fold on a porcelain plate, toast points are cosseted in a napkin, the salt and pepper are spooned. The charcutiér has shaved today’s délicieux jambon transparently thin. You may have as much of anything as you like and linger as long as you wish.