Even before arriving at Paris' stunning Hotel Fouquet's Barriere, we were contacted by the concierge staff. Do we prefer roses or orchids in our suite? How about our pillow and soft-drink preferences? Oh and what type of music would we like programmed in the state-of-the art TV/sound system and for the TV over the soaking tub?
Ypon arrival at this "palace" hotel, the doorman in long coat and top hat greeted us warmly before ushering us inside. There, like all guests, we're struck by the geometric Carrara marble floors, an array of giant "diamonds," curved walls. Magnificent gilt sofas and settees with high and curved backs complete the dramatic entryway. Hotel Fouquet's Barriere, with 107 private rooms and suites, opened in 2006. Architect Edouard Francois was commissioned to transform five separate buildings into one unit. His task was to deliver a luxe product while paying tribute to the architectural heritage of 19th-century planner Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann — whose work we see all over Paris. Francois worked his magic! Even the hotel's garden, terrace and interior courtyard with their "forest of aluminum boughs" blend brilliantly with Haussmann-esque facades recreated on the modern structures.
Once in our suite, we don't want to leave, even though the fabulous Champs-Elysées — the ultimate street for the true shopaholic — is just outside our window. When we step on our balcony, we see an amazing view of the iconic Arc de Triomphe. If there ever was a place to understand what is romantic about Paris, this is it.
But pampering in the form of his-and-hers massages await in Hotel Fouquet Barriere's U Spa, so the shopping must be put on hold. (The U in the name means the focus is on you, and we loved this spa so much the first time that we returned on our next Paris visit.)
The first thing we see you upon entering the beautiful spa space is the magnificent pool, the largest spa pool in all of Paris. The spa's dark, rich woods and low lighting create the perfect ambience, and the little portholes alongside the pool are reminiscent of a luxury ocean liner.
At the end of the large pool, gauzy curtains separate a sitting area where guests can relax with tea, juice or water, read the paper or just close their eyes to enjoy a respite from the bustle of the Paris metropolis. Beside this relaxation oasis is another smaller pool with cascading water jets that provide their own form of therapy.
We are huge fans of the spa's Terrake products. Although we might have made a case for simply slipping back to our room and taking a nap, we settle for a little conversation on the couch with a glass of white wine – French, of course – before it's time to dress for our Paris night on the town.
We could dine at the upscale 40-seat Le Diane Restaurant just upstairs, but we're in the mood for a little more of the Paris night scene — they don't call it the City of Lights for nothing — so we head to the famous Fouquet's Restaurant. This is the spot where the French version of the Oscar Awards party is held, and a long-time hangout for everyone from Maurice Chevalier to Orson Welles. Their favorite tables are marked with engraved brass plates on the walls.
After dining on lamb chop, foie gras and a gorgeous risotto with fried squash blossom, we head toward the Eiffel Tower and its magnificent strobe-light dance. Even for those like us who have been here often, this is a city that never ceases to amaze!