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City Breaks

A Tale Of Two Cities: A London To Paris Itinerary

Looking for that perfect dual-destination trip to take this summer?

CF contributor and creative video producer Sarah Barnes travelled from London to Paris and back again, building an itinerary that celebrates the ease and glamour of hopping between two of Europe’s most iconic cities. 

Read on to discover her recommendations on where to stay, eat and relax in both.

London to Paris

Leaving the bustle of London on a fleeting two-hour Eurostar, soon you will find yourself in the heart of Paris, the glittering city of lights. Tranquility is found behind the gates of the Shangri-La Paris Hotel.

Where to stay

Located in the fashionable yet discreet 16th arrondissement neighbourhood, the Shangri-La Paris is only a stone’s throw from the river Seine and faces the ever-romantic Eiffel Tower. Originally built in 1896 as palace for Prince Roland Bonaparte, the residence was later undertaken by the Shangri-La Group, who preserved the hotel’s French heritage yet created a new address for Paris’s chic and cultured.

From the second you set foot in the large marble foyer expect opulent design, grandeur and an elegant ambience. All of which draw from the best of two cultures, the French art de vivre and the ever-welcoming Asian hospitality. With 100 rooms, 37 suites, two restaurants (including the only Michelin-starred Chinese eatery in France), a bar, a renowned spa and four historic reception and event rooms, guests can enjoy this luxurious playground, as well as the classic sites and shopping of Paris

Each room and suite is designed with a regal feeling. Sumptuous gold and cream fabrics make for rich rugs, curtains and plump sofas, all set alongside beautiful marquetry furniture. A must-stay is one of the hotel’s Terrace Suites, complete with a private sweeping balcony, fit for your own ‘Emily in Paris’ moment. Here, explore your own walk-through living room, dressing room and grand marble bathroom – complete with a deep-soaking bathtub, mirror-embedded TV, heated floors and beautiful Guerlain amenities. The space is peacefully calm, and you can watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night. The beds at Shangri-La Paris deserve a special mention too: the hotel promises you a ‘sleep in the clouds’ experience and with oversized beds, marshmallow mattresses and bedding that cocoons you in a dream-like fashion, a good night’s sleep is all but guaranteed. 

What to eat

There are many fine restaurants in Paris, yet you don’t have to leave the hotel walls to experience them. La Bauhinia is a lounge-style restaurant with seating on a beautiful mezzanine underneath a magnificent 1930s-inspired glass cupola. While open for breakfast, luncheons, afternoon tea and dinner, the hotel has recently launched ‘Summer by La Bauhinia’. Set in the hotel’s secret garden terrace with a view of the Eiffel Tower, the new menu by Executive Chef Quentin Testart (who is only 28 years old!) perfectly mixes Western and Southeast Asian classic dishes. Make sure to savour the tuna tataki with ponzu sauce, yellowtail sashimi with citrus fruits and crispy rice gambas. 

If you want to lean into the Asian heritage of Shangri-La, book dinner at Shang Palace, where Executive Chef Samuel Lee Sum holds a Michelin Star. Serving up authentic Chinese food in the opulent dining room, the scallop spring rolls (a must-order), salmon lo hei and lobster noodles are all divine. And, if you are searching for a late-night cocktail after exploring the city streets, Le Bar Botaniste serves up exclusive cocktail creations and rich liquors in a retro-chic leafy bar. Next to this sits Les Lounges, where you can indulge in decadent French tea and pastries by Pastry Chef Maxence Barbot. A go-to is the fresh strawberry mille feuille: the definition of melt-in-the-mouth pastry. The bar is stocked with delicious Asian teas and delicate crockery.

Where to relax

The five-star experience continues when you book into CHI, The Spa. A special Parisian hideaway that offers a serene escape from the busy streets outside from the moment you put on that fluffy white robe. Complete with a 17-metre pool, steam room, tailor-made treatment menu and fitness centre, you really can relax and quieten your mind. The hotel has newly launched their CBD massage and is the first palace hotel in Paris to offer such an anti-anxiety treatment. The holistic technique aims to simultaneously balance the body and the mind with deep massage movements over your pressure points.

French-made brand ‘Fresh Body Green Mind’ has also developed a CBD-infused sesame oil especially for Shangri-La Paris. This magical oil helps to maximise physical relaxation with a mental release thanks to the diffusion of the hemp molecules when applied to the skin. It leaves you with relaxed muscles, a clear mind and a rare uninterrupted sense of calm. Even the little details – such as asking what type of music you’d like played and how warm you’d like the temperature of the room – made you feel really cared for. You end your treatment on the spa’s hidden green terrace wrapped in a butter-soft blanket, sipping herbal tea with a view of the Eiffel Tower. A truly exceptional spa experience indeed.

What to do and see

The hotel serves up a wonderful list of VIP guest experiences that will only add to your Parisian adventure. Shangri-La’s new partnership with Maison Guerlain is a real tailor-made olfactory affair. Let yourself be whisked from the hotel straight to the doors of the French fragrance house on the Champs-Elysées for a private tour of the flagship boutique. Here you can wander the exhibit to discover Guerlian’s history and ogle at the vintage bottles and makeup compacts, before having a champagne break in the Salon des Boiseries. After taking a meticulous perfume questionnaire, your own customizable 250ml Bee Bottle of fragrance will be made and engraved. Each iconic Bee Bottle is adorned with 69 bees, an iconic French imperial symbol. 

Pay a visit to the renowned YSL Museum too, where you can while away the hours reading about Yves Saint Laurent’s career and gaze at mannequins adored with his original designs that drip in gold jewels and pearls. Then, what better way to see the sites than by floating down the most beautiful waterway in the world: the river Seine. River Limousine offers a private cruise in a beautiful Venetian-style boat, with a large salon, tinted windows and convertible roof.  It feels like you’ve stepped straight out of a Brigitte Bardot movie as you cruise the river, clinking champagne glasses and passing the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, the Notre Dame and many more much-loved landmarks. By dawn, day or night, don’t leave Paris without sailing the Seine. It’s truly unforgettable.

Food-wise, if you want to venture out into the city, head to Girafe. The well-loved and scenic spot nestled in the heart of the Cité de l’Architecture has a show-stopping terrace, timeless decor and artfully serves up some of the best fish and seafood from the French coast. Don’t leave without sampling the ceviche with coconut milk and tamarind. As for dinner, food is warmly served by candlelight at Au Petit Tonneau. This intimate Parisian bistro has been cooking up authentic French dishes daily for more than 80 years. Not to be missed is their classic French onion soup with crunchy croutons and buttery apple tarte tatin.

Paris to London

Feeling sad to leave Paris? The dual-city adventure continues as you return to London, which again can be done by hopping on the Eurostar.

Where to stay

The Shangri-La The Shard, London is the city’s first five-star elevated luxury hotel on levels 34 to 52 of the iconic Renzo Piano designed building. Famous for its panoramic views of the capital, up in the clouds you will find 202 rooms and suites, three restaurants-bars, an infinity pool and a 24-hour gym. Set in good company, the hotel shares a neighbourhood with buzzy Bermondsey Street, Flat Iron Square, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tower of London.

What to eat

If you’re peckish after crossing the channel, TĪNG lounge (the Chinese word for living room) sits on Level 35 and serves up one of the best afternoon teas in London. You can enjoy fluffy finger sandwiches, savoury appetisers, loaded scones, delicate pastries and a miniature chocolate Shard building all while gazing at the 360-degree views.

What to do and see

The best way to discover a city (even if you live or work there) is always by foot. The Shangri-La, The Shard now offers their ‘Beneath The London Skyline’ experience, a self-guided audio tour of the city written and narrated by RIBA-accredited architect Charles Holland. On it you’ll learn about the stories and secrets behind London’s most well-known architecture, so grab a coffee and wander peacefully around London Bridge, the Monument, the Bank of England, No.1 Poultry, the Tate Modern and foodie Borough Market. 

End your day with a visit to Shangri-La’s GŎNG, the highest hotel bar in the city. It’s the perfect place to enjoy sunset cocktails – make sure to ask the master mixologists to shake you up a GŎNGstar Martini and pair it with a plate of the truffle salmon maki rolls. 

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