Paris has been my happy place since I was 18 and a student at the University of Paris, The Sorbonne. Not then, but in recent years, I’ve had the chance to stay at posh Parisian hotels with stunning spas, where I usually book an indulgent treatment for late in the day. Usually, I swim in the heated, indoor pool; afterwards, I chill on a chaise, often with tea or a spa-style snack in hand. What follows are five favorites in the city of wellbeing.
CHI Spa, Shangri-La Paris
The Shangri-La Hotel, a Monument Historique and one of a few Parisian “Palace” hotels, boasts close-up views of the Eiffel Tower from many of its 100 grand rooms and suites. The mansion was the former home of Prince Roland Bonaparte, grand-nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte 1st, a learned 20th century aristocrat, world traveler and passionate botanist. CHI, The Spa honors his heritage with its partnership with The Organic Spa, a product which uses herb-based ingredients in its brightening, detoxifying and lifting facials and body treatment rituals, including jet-lag and Thai massage. The centerpiece of the spa—which is surrounded by marble flooring and Italian mosaic tiles– is the column-bordered, 175-square-foot, high-ceilinged, indoor, heated swimming pool. It can be seen and reached from the mezzanine, where the treatment rooms are located off the almond-colored corridor. The light-filled, state-of-the-art, fitness area is equipped with two cycling machines, treadmills, an elliptical trainer, a stepper, a Vario cardio-training machine, a multifunctional exercise machine; and, there’s an exercise/workout area. Even the names of the dining outlets–Le Bar Botaniste, “L’Abeille” (bee), the two Michelin starred restaurant where Chef Christophe Moret reigns are dedicated to plant life. The airy, all-day restaurant, La Bauhinia, (named for the flower on the Hong Kong flag) serves healthful, vegetarian and vegan menu options under its 1930s-era, Eiffel-inspired steel and glass cupola.
Spa Diane Barrière, Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet’s Paris
Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet’s Paris, is entered on Avenue George V just across the street from Louis Vuitton’s flagship store, on the Champs Élysées, near the Étoile, the Seine, and the Eiffel Tower. Prominent Parisian designer Jacques Garcia redecorated Fouquet’s in 2017 and added contemporary opulence with tufted leather headboards, marble baths, and high-tech amenities. Also in 2017, its 8000-square foot Spa Diane Barrière was renovated and redecorated by Chantal Peyrat. It’s a softly lit, elegant space with a Louvre-like art gallery beyond the pool, where glittery mosaic tiles decorate the base of modernist columns. I’ve stayed and had treatments there twice, and relished the lifeguard-watched, 50-foot subterranean pool, the counter-current option and aqua circuit. The hi-tech fitness center offers treadmills, Elliptical-steppers and multifunctional weight equipment. The 2 or 3-day Urban Detox Programme created with wellbeing designer Jimmy Jarnet and Kos Paris—which is known for its quality plant-based ingredients—includes vegan lunches, Juicelab Detox juices and detox spa treatments.
Sense, a Rosewood Spa, Hôtel de Crillon, Paris
Hôtel de Crillon faces the iconic Place de la Concorde, located near the Orangerie—with its Monet Water Lilies and Renoir beauties– between the Tuileries Garden and the Champs Élysées. The regal entrance—with its pink marble floors, black wrought iron stair-rails trimmed in gold and high ceilings—recalls the building’s origin as the Count de Crillon’s 18th century palace. Sense, A Rosewood Spa, is a major new ground floor addition, where French body and beauty products (EviDenS de Beauté, Les Luneides and Maison Caulières) are displayed and incorporated into treatments. Softly colored, blue and beige shell-shaped, mosaic-tiles lead to two of the four treatment rooms, including the deluxe “duo” suite, with its Empire chaise lounge, dressing table, with private shower and toilet. On a lower level, the indoor pool is framed by three-dimensional, Majolica-like, blue walls designed by New York ceramist Peter Lane and features 17,600 gold, shell-shaped mosaic pieces on the pool floor, which glimmer from sunlight reflected through the sky-light. Treatments include a Tibetan massage and the 210-minute, multi-therapy “soin” that starts with a rose-water foot bath and includes a manicure, blow-dry and a full make-up application. The Technogym-equipped fitness studio has treadmills with large TV screens. Dining options include spa-style cuisine (including organic detox juices) at the historic Jardin d’Hiver in the luxe courtyard.
Le Spa at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
Whenever I’m in the exclusive 8th arrondissement, I window-shop (Maison Louis Vuitton on the Champs Elysées to Emporio Armani, Hermès) and stop in to the George V to admire Artistic Director Jeff Leatham’s fabulous floral arrangements. Though I’ve never slept in this hotel, I’ve visited the spa on two occasions, dined splendidly at the Le Cinq, (three Michelin-stars), had drinks at the bar and even accompanied the sommelier to tour La Cave, in the former stone quarry. After an 18-month renovation project, Le Spa, reopened in July 2018 as a contemporary classic space, with mosaics reflecting Greek, Roman and Turkish styles and a palette of silver and grey. Facilities feature a 50-yard swimming pool, six treatment rooms of which one is a duo cabine, plus, his and hers mosaic-tiled hammams. The Dr. Burgener, of Switzerland skin care line combines scientific research, natural elements (oxidant-rich green caviar) and advanced VitaSkin ultrasound technological techniques to create personalized seasonal services. And, L’Orangerie, a one-Michelin star restaurant in a glass and-steel structure in the marble courtyard, offers a day-long, nutritionally-balanced menu.
Hotel Bel Ami
Not every five-star hotel with a spa is within a grand palace hotel; in fact, family-owned Hôtel Bel-Ami had a decidedly modest former life as a book factory; the building was chosen for its prime location in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, a destination “quartier” on the left bank with shops, boutiques and legendary cafes, including the nearby Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots. This oh-so-stylish 108-room boutique hotel boasts a vibrant mid-century modern décor. The subterranean spa, an intimate and contemporary well-being space complete with a fitness room, a relaxation lounge, sauna and two treatment cabines, pays tribute to Parisian alchemist Nicolas Flamel. Restorative Maison Flamel facials are a mix of scientific innovation and magical scents and textures and the oxygen treatments are welcoming for the tired traveler. Spa style cuisine is well represented at “Les Mots Passants,” where Chef Simon Suzineau brings the garden to the plate with vegetarian options and an organic Sunday brunch.