If you find yourself staying in one of the luxury hotels in Paris this spring, consider spending an evening in a piano bar during your city break. You can always rely on a hotel piano bar to offer a sophisticated atmosphere and is the perfect end to a day of sightseeing with a cocktail and some relaxing live music tinkling in the background.
The Saint-Germain-des-Prés arrondissement is a good place to find nightlife and the Hotel Bel-Ami has an excellent piano bar with live music from 6pm. Still in the 6th arrondissement, the Bar de Lutetia at the hotel of the same name offers piano music and “lute-jazz” on other evenings. This Art Deco luxury hotel on Blvd Raspail is well known as a landmark building on the Left Bank.
The Hotel de Crillon on Place de la Concorde, one of Luxique’s top luxury hotels in Paris, has a lively bar where pianists Joel and Bernard play until 1am. It is the ideal place to hang out before or after dining in the Michelin star restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs.
For a more British influence, try the Dukes Bar at Hotel Westminster on rue de la Paix. Throughout the week there is a pianist for the cocktail hour from 6.30 to 9.30pm and at weekends there’s a jazz singer until late.
Those looking for a luxury hotel bar with cultural connections will find just what they’re looking for at the piano bar at Hotel de Banville. Named after the poet Theodore de Banville the lobby bar has superb entertainment with pianist Franck Monbaylet, guitarist Frederic Kakon and vocalist Marianne Moreau.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
The Palace of Versailles outside Paris is to transform one of its satellite buildings into a luxury hotel.
L’hôtel du Grand Contrôle, the traditional home of the chateau’s treasurers, is to be converted into a luxury hotel with 23 bedrooms. Some will look out over The Orangerie, the palace’s elaborate greenhouse, and others will have a view of the Swiss ornamental lake. The hotel could be ready as early as the end of next year.
A concession has been granted to the Belgian company Ivy International SA to renovate and develop the building, which dates back to the 17th century but is currently in a dilapidated state. The work is expected to cost 5.5 million euros (£4.6 million/$7.3 million).
Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage site deemed one of the crowning achievements of 18th-century French art, is one of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions.
The development paves the way for a series of French projects aimed at exploiting the economic potential of listed buildings while securing their renovation.
Another royal palace, the Chateau of Fontainbleau, south of Paris, is preparing to appeal for bids to develop its listed Heronniere barracks next year. “We have to find a purpose for these buildings to avoid them falling into ruin,” said Jean-Francois Hebert, President of Fontainbleau. “One of the ways will be to set up an upmarket hotel complex.”
by Andy Moreton/AFP
Luxique offers you a choice of accommodation at some 70 luxury hotels in Paris,including the Trianon Palace in Versailles.
The French have had to concede that London offers a better experience for tourists than Paris.
The Paris-Il-de-France Regional Tourism Committee commissioned a survey to explore ways to boost international visitors. To the surprise of many, London was placed ahead of five other European cities, including Paris, Rome and Berlin.
The report found that tourists liked London better than other cities for its taxis, restaurants and landmarks, including Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
The city was given an impressive score of 82 out of 100 for the welcome it offered visitors from abroad. Paris – officially the world’s most popular tourist destination in terms of number of visitors – tied in second place on 79 with Amsterdam.
So what’s so wrong with Paris? Well, public transport is considered poor, with tickets difficult to buy and the Metro looking increasingly old and dirty.
Paris hotels – which have shot up in price in the decade or so since the introduction of the euro – were also found wanting, with a total mark of 74 per cent, compared with 89 per cent for London.
One fault that was found with Londoners was that so few were able to speak a foreign language.
by Andy Moreton
Paris or London? Do both! Luxique can direct you to the best luxury hotels in Paris and London – and at the best available rates.
Within two years, there could be a single smart card allowing travellers to ride the London Underground, the Paris Metro and the New York Subway.
The company running the tube, Transport For London (TfL), is speaking to its counterparts in the United States and Europe about the possibility of harmonising the ticketing systems. With millions of tourists crossing the globe to visit major cities for business and leisure, the aim is to simplify their travel and spare them the bureaucracy of buying a local card.
In London, most commuters pay for travel using a top-up card known as an Oyster, which has been in place since 2003 and is used by about seven million people. TfL plans to run a ‘contactless payment’ scheme as an alternative to Oyster, allowing people to use public transport by scanning their debit or credit cards on a special reader.
The next technological step would be to develop a common internationally accepted card, making life considerably easier for the tourist.
- London’s museums and galleries enjoyed a blockbuster summer as recession-hit Britons stayed at home and an influx of foreign tourists swelled visitor numbers. Attendances were up by an average of 11 per cent, with some attractions enjoying a 24 per cent boost
by Andy Moreton
Luxique has an unrivalled selection of the finest luxury hotels in London – some large and traditional, some small and chic.
There’s a great deal of nervousness in Europe about the possibility of a Mumbai-type terrorist attack.
Concern that al-Qaeda is plotting to send gunmen to the streets of major European cities for commando-style raids has prompted warnings from the British Foreign Office and the American State Department.
The Foreign Office warned tourists that there was a ‘high threat’ of attacks in countries including France and Germany, rather than the ‘general threat’ previously identified. The UK’s threat level, as set by the Home Office, remains ‘severe’.
The US alert noted ‘the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure’. The warning did not advise Americans against travelling to Europe, but to take care while in tourist areas.
France in particular is on red alert, with thousands of police and soldiers deployed. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated twice last month on bomb threats that turned out to be false.
by Andy Moreton
I’ve just spent a long weekend in the northern French city of Lille, where there’s some fine architecture and some appetising specialities: moules et frites (mussels and French fries), gaufres (waffles) and crêpes (pancakes).
The city, which is close to the border with Belgium, used not to be a hotspot for tourism, but that all changed in 1994 with the arrival of the Channel Tunnel, linking the United Kingdom with the European mainland.
Lille suddenly found itself at the centre of a triangle connecting London, Paris and Brussels. Ever since then, tourists have been able to take the option of stopping off from the high-speed Eurostar trains and spending a pleasant break in Lille, where French life’s at a slower pace than in Paris.
The Eurostar link has, of course, transformed the place, with the huge Euralille shopping mall evidence of an economic boom. In 2004, the city was European Capital of Culture.
But not everyone, it seems, has benefited from the largesse brought in by tourist Euros. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beggars in such a relatively small city. Men and women with pathetic paper cups were squatting on street corners, beside automatic cash machines and on church steps. Sometimes they approached while you were out walking.
A few were alcohol-fuelled, but in the main these were simply the dispossessed and desperate – a sad sideshow in a modern, thriving city.
by Andy Moreton
It’s what the media call the silly season, so here we go: a luxury hotel in New York City is reportedly offering a bespoke service for your pet dog.
The Jumeirah Essex House has brought in a designer to create a memorable experience that includes a luxury dog bed, treats made by the hotel’s executive pastry chef and food from bowls supplied by the trendy New York boutique Wagwear (‘style and design for the fashion-minded dog.’)
Of course, no luxury perk programme would be complete without a gift bag, and this one includes a plush fleece blanket that can be monogrammed on request.
I can just hear all my British friends saying: ‘Only in the United States!’ But wait …
In Merthyr Tydfil in Wales are arguably Britain’s poshest kennels – although luxury hotel would be nearer the mark. Dogs arrive at the Royvon Pet Hotel in air- conditioned cabs and are checked in to specially designed rooms with 24” plasma screens.
Leisure time can be spent at the spa or exercising in six acres of secure grounds, three large fenced play paddocks or two indoor activity halls.
And if the dogs get homesick, they can bond with their vacationing owners because all the suites are fitted with a webcam.
Kennels owner, Sarah Draper, said: “We like to think of ourselves as the Ritz for dogs.”
by Andy Moreton
If you want the Ritz for humans, Luxique can secure the best rates at the luxury hotels in London and Paris.
When visiting Paris, it’s always fun to go to a flea market to see what old bargains you can pick up to adorn your home. But for one unfortunate British couple, this signalled a chain of events about which they are still probably pretty embarrassed.
Their find was a 19th century live artillery shell, and it caused a major security alert when they tried to board the Eurostar train back to London. Explosives experts, firemen and police were scrambled to the Gare du Nord, the main Eurostar terminal in Paris, and services were held up for at least an hour.
The device dated back to France’s Third Republic, around 1885, when the whole country was full of live explosives following the Franco-Prussian War.
“Live explosives are strictly banned on all cross–Channel services, no matter how old they are,” said a French customs source. “All kinds of banned articles are picked up every day, but this is the first time someone’s tried to get through with a pre-First World War shell in their luggage.”
The unnamed couple, who thought their purchase was ‘a nice souvenir’, were cautioned about their behaviour before being allowed to return to Britain. The shell was confiscated and destroyed.
by Andy Moreton
The French capital is an explosion of colour and vibrancy at any time of the year. Book your luxury hotel in Paris through Luxique – we have an unrivalled selection of classic and modern.
The popular Pompidou arts centre in Paris now has a smaller cousin 170 miles to the east.
The Metz Pompidou will have no permanent collection of its own but will show, in six-month or yearly rotations, parts of the vast collection of 65,000 contemporary works held by the Pompidou in Paris, most of which are never displayed.
There are also spaces in the spectacular new building for other contemporary art forms, including cinema, modern music and dance.
Metz, the capital of the Lorraine region, is hoping to recreate the success of the European arm of New York’s Guggenheim museum, which has transformed the fortunes of Bilbao in northern Spain since 1997.
The director of the Metz Pompidou, Laurent Le Bon, said: “For us it’s a little French Revolution – yet it’s such a simple thing. We are just saying that the big collections are for everyone, not just for Paris.”
This is the first stage in a drive to decentralise the French state’s enormous art collection. A branch of the Louvre will follow in 2012 in Lens, a former coal town only an hour from the Channel Tunnel.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique has an extensive selection of luxury hotels in France – including some of the best that Paris has to offer.
Paris may be the city of love, but the authorities there have called a halt to one romantic tradition that’s gone just too far.
The trend of attaching small padlocks, with messages, to two of the capital’s bridges as a sign of undying love began about two years ago. Now, there are almost 2,000, and the French capital’s town hall has announced that they’re defacing the bridges and have to stop.
The cadenas d’amour (love padlocks) are on the Pont des Arts, which links the left bank of the Seine to the Louvre, and the Passerelle Leopold-Senghor, between the Tuilerie Gardens and the Musée d’Orsay.
A town hall source said the practice posed the question of preserving heritage – the rusty locks were becoming an eyesore on photogenic monuments.
Paris is the latest in a string of tourist sites to be struck by the love-lock craze, whose origins are unclear.
In Pécs, southern Hungary, lovers have been clamping padlocks to a fence in a street linking the mosque in the city’s main square and its mediaeval cathedral since the 1980s as a sign of commitment.
In Florence, Italy, love padlocks have been fixed to the railing at the centre of the Ponte Vecchio.
And love-struck sweethearts also favour Mount Huang, China, where it’s customary to ‘lock your soul’ together and then throw the key over the edge of the cliff into the misty valley below.
by Andy Moreton
Let Luxique unlock the secret to a truly memorable stay in the French capital. We have a selection of some of the best luxury hotels in Paris – both traditional and modern.