Plaza Athenee Paris

A stay at one of Paris most luxurious hotel with some hits and misses (7 - 11 July 2015)
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During my visit to Paris in July during summer and one of the busiest times of the year- Haute Couture Week, Y and I were kindly hosted by Fendi at Hotel Plaza Athenee, part of the Dorchester Collection. I was rather excited and definitely very thankful for their generosity and was keen to see if this classic Parisian 5 star luxury hotel lived up to its name.

This hotel has operated since 1913 and its location can’t get any better, right in the heart of Avenue Montaigne, one of Paris famous shopping streets, and naturally it is always booked out during Fashion Week and Haute Couture week I hear.

Outside the hotel, famous for their red canopied windows. 

I always gauge the service of hotel concierges by their efficiency and also going the extra mile. I can get a sense of how good they are before arriving at their hotel, from our email correspondences. Generally, they were quite responsive when booking restaurants for me prior to my arrival, but I did get the occasional blur concierge during my stay there. I had to repeat myself twice to 2 different concierges to get a booking changed while staying at Athenee. I think that really marks the difference between the concierges I have experienced in Asia especially Japan versus in Europe.

The check in process was quite smooth, and they allowed Y and I to freshen up in their spa while waiting for the room which due to full occupancy was only going to be ready for check-in later in the afternoon. The spa seemed really nice although it was a pity we didn’t have much time to try it during our stay, but we liked the gym. Though small compared to some other hotel gyms we been to, it was compact enough with the right machines and had TV with cable channels to distract me while burning off our fats every morning like gym bunnies. Plus complimentary water and green apples provided in the gym was a nice touch.

Enjoying the view of the courtyard from my bedroom.

Can’t wait to enjoy my bed and large spacious room.

The room we got was I think a superior guestroom, super large and it overlooked their beautiful courtyard with the red canopied windows. Spacious enough with a writing desk on the side, seating area, and the bathroom was large with a double sink, a large bathtub and separate shower.

Chocolate cake for me to enjoy after check in. 

The highlight of my stay is their breakfast for sure. Their breakfast isn’t cheap by regular standards, but then I think it’s pretty normal for such hotels to charge 40 euros and up for breakfasts. Depending on the breakfast course you choose, it ranges anything from 46 to 52 euros (before tax and service charge). I read on their website, their pastry chef is Christophe Michalak, who was the World Pastry Chef 2015 winner.

Modern interiors of the main restaurant of Alain Ducasse where breakfast is served

Front of the pastry ‘brochure’

My favourite pastry is the Kughelof

Up close with some of the breads, yummy yummy!

The pastries definitely lived up to their chef’s name. All I can say is that the star of the breakfast course is the pastry basket which comes at a free refill. Realistically, no one can eat that much pastries, but I think all of us almost did, just that we had to exercise a lot of restrain. My all time favourite is this Alsacian specialty called Kughelof which was a soft brioche scented with lemon and orange blossom, it was moist and almost seemed like there was juice emerging from it as I took each bite yet it wasn’t too soggy. Sigh, writing about this makes me miss it so much!

My limo driver, Thomas waiting for us patiently as we try to find our luggage in Plaza Athenee.

Though rooms were large and comfortable and the breakfast was outstanding, the biggest letdown of Plaza Athenee is the inconsistent service, which clearly did not correlate to the room rates. It makes me wonder if it’s due to poor management or just lack of training.

On the first day upon arriving in the room,  we quickly drunk up the 2 mini bottles of in-house branded water. When Y called the housekeeping department for more water, we were told that we had to pay for extra water. Only after speaking to the concierge team, they offered to waive the fee and said they will bring up more complimentary water which only happened for that day. For a hotel of such calibre and room rates, shouldn’t in-house mineral water be complimentary? Would we drink the hotel broke? Y had to end up always going to the gym to get more water given there was a ‘ration’ on the water per room.

The next important point is they almost lost our luggage. We had left some luggage with them for a week while we were in Provence with CG, and when we returned, they only had CG’s luggage but not ours. They said it was not in the system even though we had a number tag. After like 30 minutes of waiting, including being brought to their back storeroom, thankfully the luggage was found, but it definitely left a really big and negative impression on us.

If I want to splurge on a hotel in Paris the next time, Plaza Athenee Paris wouldn’t be it. I think they will need to relook at their service standards and operation processes, and I believe in hotels, a lot starts from the top in making such changes. However, till that happens, I would return here to just enjoy the wonderful breakfast.

Enjoying my sumptuous French pastries and breads, only reason to be back here for. 

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