I cannot think of a place I would rather stay for a night, a weekend or half a football season.
In fact, it is difficult to understand why more top footballers don’t follow Becks’ example and decamp to a hush-hush five-star hotel. It is probably cheaper than living at home and having to heat the outside jacuzzi. And you get your own butler.
But living in an hotel, even a Louis XVI-style hotel in the 8th arrondissement? You’d get bored with it after a while, wouldn’t you? You’d feel “hotel-y.” Not at Le Bristol. The more familiar it becomes, the more you love this iconic property on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
Becks must have shed a quiet tear every time he left the foyer for training with his team-mates at Paris St Germain. He reputedly stayed in a £14,000-a-night three-bedroom Imperial suite although I’m sure he negotiated a discount and got breakfast thrown in. Incidentally, the tea, Le Bristol’s own blend, is magic stuff. Dave would love it.
If Golden Balls, just retired, didn’t get a good night’s kip here, he won’t get one anywhere. I have huge trouble getting to sleep in hotels but I slept like a terribly well-cosseted baby. This may, in part, be due to something basic, but often lacking, even in smart hotels: effective air conditioning. Le Bristol has the best ever – no chilly blasts or humming, stifling heat. It’s like breathing Alpine air.
Superior rooms start from 850 euros. For that kind of price, guests look for something special and it helps that Le Bristol, a brisk stroll from the Champs-Élysées, is a palace. Literally. It became the first hotel in France to be granted palace status by the government a couple of years ago, some achievement when you consider the grand, swanky places that vie for super-rich guests in this market.
There is a three Michelin star restaurant, Epicure, where you might bump into George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie or Posh and the kids.
Don’t be fooled by the hype though. For once, Beckham won’t have been the star of the show. At Le Bristol, he played second fiddle to a gorgeous creature who roams the marble corridors and treats the place like home. This VIP guest does not pay a euro towards board and lodgings. I am referring to Fa-Raon, a snow-white Birman cat, whom we spotted taking a morning stroll among the azaleas, rhododendrons and tinkling fountains of Le Bristol’s stunning courtyard garden.
The McCombs kicked back in two junior suites in the hotel’s new seven-floor wing. The facade wraps around Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré into Avenue Martignon but you can’t see the join with the original building. The transition is seamless, like everything at Le Bristol.
The new wing brings the total room count to 188, including 88 grand suites. Take a suite, of whatever size, and it is like having your own private apartment in the heart of Paris.
The rooms, whose decor and furnishings were overseen by Maja Oetker, wife of hotel owner Rudolf A Oetker, are an object lesson in restrained elegance. The feeling is classically French, fresh and chic, without a whiff of corporate dullness. There are individual pieces of antique furniture and we had a dramatic black chandelier, but the accent is on light and space.
We visited last August when the hotel takes on a particularly discreet, intimate atmosphere. Parisians set their sat-navs for the Côte d’Azur and Biarritz and squeeze on to crowded, fleshy beaches, leaving luxurious tranquility behind for les rosbifs. They’re bonkers.
The weather was glorious and we had the stunning rooftop swimming pool to ourselves. The sun terraces take in views over Montmartre and Sacré Coeur.The teak pool is styled on the bow of a Belle Époque sailing boat with painted figures and exotic wildlife. And it’s warm, 28C.
Downstairs, Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie opened in 2012 and has been showered with plaudits, being named Best New Luxury Spa in the World at the World Luxury Spa Awards 2012.
The spa has eight treatment rooms, some with private terraces opening on to a secluded, interior garden.
The only downside of visiting in August is Epicure closes for the vacation. Still, it is always worth having a vaguely credible excuse to return to Le Bristol and that will be a dinner to look forward to.
Richard McComb and family were guests of Hôtel Le Bristol Paris. The hotel, which is part of the Oetker Collection, is at 112 Rue du Faubourg Saint- Honoré, 75008 Paris.
For more information, go to www.lebristolparis.com