How To Have A Five Star Paris Experience Without Staying In A Luxury Hotel

Luxury without the price tag.

Image: @ioanna_neo

Oven-fresh croissants tickle your nostrils. Your amant pours coffee from a French Press. You stretch, light a cigarette, and toss your feet out from under the covers. You flânes around the apartment like an indecisive diplomat before taking breakfast on the balcony. Orange juice, espresso and five-star views.

… And then you wake up in your two-star accommodation (which cost about the same as a four-star hotel anywhere else). It was all a dream and a cruel one at that. But why the heck is Paris so expensive, even for those of us that can usually afford decent digs anyplace else?

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Well, as we reported last year, not only is space a premium in Paris, but locals have a different lifestyle which – if you don’t adapt to it – can ruin your brief Paris experience. So other than drinking enough Gran Marnier that you wouldn’t be able to tell a budget backpackers’ from a five-star hotel by the time your stumble back to your room, what can you do?

In the past, we’d have said suck it up. But a recent piece by The New York Times suggests there is another way. The article, which reads, “How To Have A Five-Star Experience Without Booking A Room” gives tight-fisted travellers five ways to get the five-star Paris experience… all while staying in a hostel, cheap hotel or Airbnb.

How? By walking into five-star establishments off the street, to have a one-off luxury experience on the cheap (ish). Keen? Here are the best places to do it, courtesy of the world’s most prolific Pulitzer Prize publication.

Dinner – V Restaurant at Hotel Vernet

Hotel Vernet, 25 Rue Vernet, 75008 Paris, France 

Like leather banquettes? How about romantic stained-glass domes? Or architecture designed by Gustave Eiffel? This “pinch-me-I’m-in-Paris moment” is numero uno among the NYT’s Paris recommendations, and has all three attributes.

The down-low? Read on: “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 savory 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, or around $105),” The New York Times continues, “deftly 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.”

TLDR? Foodie heaven.

Cocktails: the Duc de Morny Library at La Réserve Paris

La Réserve, 42 Avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris, France 

Tucked into Avenue Gabriel, this mansion-turned-hotel brings “Belle Époque glamour” and intimate “feel-like-home ambience” together.

For those after “Belle Epoque glamour” there’s the bar; for those that seek “feel-like-home ambience” there’s the library.

NYT recommended cocktails include 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.

Cooking class: the Ritz Paris

Hôtel Ritz Paris, 15 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France

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Did you know that Bar Hemingway at The Ritz used be called le Petit Bar and was for ladies only?🌹📸 @ritzparis

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Forget torturing yourself at L’Ami Louis. Instead, if you’re a foodie, The New York Times says you should take a half-day course at the prestigious Ritz Escoffier cooking school (inside the Ritz Paris hotel) and then consume your creations ensemble with the chef and newfound friends.

The menu includes dishes like roasted duckling filet with quince and creamy polenta, warm molten chocolate cake with orange custard and roasted mango or hazelnut crumble with yogurt sorbet. There are also classes focusing on Madeleines, modern tarts, macarons and all things chocolate.

Oh and, just casually, the Ritz’s François Perret was recently named best pastry chef in the world (“before or after class, grab one of his whimsical creations at Bar Vendôme”).

Art: Le Royal Monceau

Le Royal Monceau, 37 Avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris, France

Le Royal Monceau is a five-star hotel with an in-house art concierge, a 99-seat cinema and avant-garde artworks installed throughout. As The New York Times tells, “On Sunday evenings, nonhotel guests can attend a private screening at Katara Cinema (€40 per person), which includes a glass of Champagne and a cone of caramelized 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.”

Afternoon tea: Four Seasons George V, Paris

Four Seasons George V, 31 Avenue George V, 75008 Paris, France 

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For a fairy tale l’apres midi experience, the Fout Seasons George V, Paris is where it’s at. A 60 euro force de swank which involves your choice of tea, champagne, scones, financiers, artful pastries and savoury bites like blini with salmon and cauliflower cream. Oh and there’s also a 130 euro spa for those that need to sweat out their pudding.