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Citizen Enfants

Paris Avec Enfants: Check In To Le Bristol Paris

Paris hotels are institutions, architecturally spectacular Grand Dames that warrant passers-by to stop and stare.

So, one of the originals, Le Bristol, was long on my radar for hotels to visit. The Hotel’s been welcoming the who’s who of high society and the cultural glitterati since 1925, and with the destination’s prestigious address occupying nearly an entire block on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré near the Élysée presidential palace, its no wonder its continued as one of Paris’ leading hotels. But how well does Le Bristol manage les enfants?

The Vibe

“Coucou” says the bellman as we draw up in our taxi. Taking out suitcases, prams and ready with a Paris sticker book for my toddler with big smiles, Le Bristol was already living up to my expectations.

It’s a hotel of firsts. The Hotel is first in Paris to be designated a ‘Palace’. This is designated to French hotels that are even more exceptional and luxurious than the typical 5-star —beating out many of the arguably more famous properties in Paris. It’s the first hotel ever to offer room service, with the help of a dumbwaiter and a maître d’hôtel on every floor. It was also the first to install a climate control system for cooling the drawing rooms and other gathering spots.

The vibe embodies years of elegance and a deep understanding of luxury for the international globetrotter. Like all the Oetker Collection (of which Le Bristol belongs amongst other properties including Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, Château Saint-Martin & Spa in Vence, The Lanesborough London, Eden Rock-St Barths), you can feel a familial essence running through its veins, on an incredibly elevated level of luxury. Over several acquisitions of neighbouring houses and a convent, the Hotel has continually expanded and still maintains the French art de vivre that is evident in everything that the hotel does and offers.

The Rooms

The 190 guest rooms, which feel like private apartments, some of the largest in Paris, are spread out between the main building and the Matignon wing. Pale pastel walls backdrop Louis XV- and Louis XVI-period furniture, adorned with silk drapes, elegantly latticed mirror cupboards can fit in your entire wardrobe (although you’re likely there for just a weekend), while marble bathrooms feature spacious showers and tubs, generously stocked with bespoke toiletries.

Many of the rooms enjoy stunning views on to the recently refurbished 13,000 square foot courtyard garden, with its white wood trellises and sculptures. It’s a particularly special view to enjoy accompanied by your breakfast, rolled in on the breakfast trolley. Cots are provided and if travelling with older children, they offer interconnecting rooms as well as extra in-room beds if required and with plenty of space, you will still feel like you have room to play, literally.

Little ones will be met by Hippolyte the rabbit soft toy – named after the hotel’s founder, Hippolyte Jammet and personalised bibs, freshly baked viennese chocolate biscuits and a mini Le Bristol suitcase filled with goodies. Bathrooms have CO Bigelow children’s amenities and wipes, and the luxuriously deep marbled bathtub will let them deliciously splash and bathe. The rooms have managed to maintain an air of sophistication without being pompous, letting you feel like royalty as you sink into the linens and ultra comfortable mattress after an exhausting day enjoying Paris with children.

The Food + Drink

Some of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants can be found here, including Chef Eric Frechon’s Epicure, with three Michelin stars, and the more casual 114 Faubourg, which received one Michelin star. There’s also an on-site flour mill and bakery, a chocolate factory made bespoke for each restaurant (25 edible jewels are available in Le Bristol Paris gift boxes), a cheese cave, a wine cellar and the recently introduced pasta laboratory, Il Pastificio, where handmade pasta is made each day in eight traditional sizes and shapes.

If you catch the eye of the bouncers across the street and a huddle of well-dressed good looking people, you’ll find reinvention by nightclub maestro Loic Berardengo, Le Bristol’s purple-lit bar — Le Bristol After Dark or BAD —one of the city’s hottest night spots, offering a return to the golden age of partying for which the hotel was known in the 1920s. Open every evening from Tuesday to Saturday, Le Bar du Bristol transforms this musical stage with live DJs mixing electro sounds and vintage atmospheres based on a ‘sound colour’ designed exclusively for the space.

Dining in the hotel, however, isn’t easy with kids. For an early dinner, there is only afternoon tea available (and multiple sweet treats may not be what you’re opting for just before bedtime), or the in-room dining, where the options are not as accessible as one would hope for a toddler (caviar anyone?) So we’d suggest enjoy date night in the hotel and taking the kids to taste the French delicacies around the city.

Child’s Play

As expected, Le Bristol is always a sophisticated affair, and you can expect no less from Paris minis. The kids’ clubs, created in partnership with luxury French children’s brand Bonpoint is available for children up to 12 years old. Little ones can spend a few hours here in a very stylish play room with tipis for a secret hideaway, huge floral patterned cushions, chalkboard walls, electric car tracks, dolls houses, books and a menagerie of stuffed animals. And while trusted chaperones can watch the children while you enjoy the Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie, you could instead take them along with you to indulge in the specially tailored kids’ spa experience, which includes a 55-minute massage to help them unwind after a hard day’s playing.

The rooftop pool is as much a draw for the adults as it is for the children. Professor Pineau, who decorated the yachts of Niarchos and Onassis, designed the sixth-floor pool to look like a caravel from the 1920s. Admire the frescoes depicting the approach to the Hotel du Cap, one of the other properties in the Oetker group, while you take your laps. Or take a lounger and views over Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower, while the children enjoy floaties provided on-site.

Photo credit: Roméo Balencourt

Photo credit: Roméo Balencourt

The To-Do List

Come summer, come winter, you’ll find Paris is the one destination that will consistently deliver. Le Bristol at its centre continually innovates in its offering that anytime you visit, you’ll have plenty of excuses to remain indoors. Surrounded by small private galleries where you’re likely to see works by artists such as Picasso and Morisot hanging almost casually in the window, the hotel is also near the avenues with Hermes, Lanvin, Prada and Chanel boutiques, that will be whispering your name to step foot and open your wallet.

Within a 10-minute stroll of the Champs-Élysées, the huge playground at Jardin du Luxembourg (you might even catch a puppet show) and plenty of parks with swings and small playgrounds in squares all over Paris, there are plenty of places to run around and indeed to pause for little legs. From river cruises to tuk tuk rides, the little train of Montmartre to plenty of crêperies, let Paris surprise you. It, perhaps unexpectedly, has that je ne sais quoi for petits-enfants, with Le Bristol as the base for your globetrotting minis.

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