Anyone who knows me will know that I love Paris.

No matter how many times I visit, I still can’t quite put my finger on what makes it so special. Yes, it’s beautiful, but there are plenty of beautiful cities, aren’t there? What is it about Paris that makes it so magical?

Sometimes I think it’s just…everything.

Given that my invitation to visit Paris came from Virtuoso – the world’s leading luxury travel network, this trip was always going to be special. Virtuoso connects travellers to elite travel advisors like ours, as well as exclusive services, perks and experiences from the world’s best hotels, cruise lines and travel providers.

I flew Etihad Airways from Sydney via Abu Dhabi aboard the enormous A380 aircraft. Check-in was effortless and the Lounge just lovely. Food, facilities and service here are always excellent.
The A380 feels impressive when you board. The decor is luxurious and has a real richness to it.
Seat configuration in Business Class is 1-2-1 across the aircraft, meaning every seat has direct aisle access which is great. Interestingly, however, the seat rows alternate between facing forwards and backwards. No-one seemed to mind particularly facing backwards. In fact, apart from take-off and landing, it’s easy to forget which way you’re facing once you’re settled into your seat.


In the air as in the lounge, the service and food were fabulous. I did find the seats to be quite hard and narrow, but the consistency of service from check-in to arrival on each leg was excellent.

We stayed at and visited a number of wonderful Virtuoso hotels during our stay. Here are my reflections on each starting with my favourite, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris.

Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
Neighbourhood: Steps from the Champs Elysées


This gorgeous hotel is simply outstanding in every way. It’s an eight-storey landmark built in 1928, with 244 luxury rooms, a gorgeous art collection and fabulous fine dining just off the Champs-Elysées.
The service, decor and public areas are a delight. I just loved that the rooms are elegant but still speak of France. Oh, and the pillows and bed were just amazing.
The location is perfectly suited to leisure or business travellers.
We were taken to the Moulin Rouge in vintage Citroens and enjoyed a brilliant backstage tour – a truly wonderful, local experience.

Le Bristol Paris, Oetker Collection
Neighbourhood: Famous Faubourg Saint-Honoré


My response to this hotel was probably tempered a bit by the sheer luxury and style of the Four Seasons, but Le Bristol is intimate and utterly Parisian.
It enjoys a great location, just a short walk from the Louvre and popular areas like the Champs Elysees and one of the city’s most elegant shopping streets – Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where all the fashion houses are located.
And, rare for Paris, Le Bristol features a vast interior French garden, the largest of its kind.
The Bristol’s fine dining restaurant Epicure holds three Michelin stars and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Guests who book their stay with the Spencer Group of Companies enjoy a wonderful set of Virtuoso amenities and perks* here including:

• Early check-in subject to availability
• A room upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability.
• Daily full American breakfast for up to two
• US$100 Spa Services credit during your stay
• Late check-out subject to availability

Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Dorchester Collection
Neighbourhood: Champs Elysees, Ave Montaigne


We didn’t stay at the Plaza Athénée but visited and inspected the property and its suites.
Since 1913, the hotel has welcomed guests to avenue Montaigne, the heart of haute couture. Today the hotel remains a terrific base from which to explore the city’s famed designer boutiques, and is just steps from the Arc de Triomphe.
Rooms overlook either the Eiffel Tower or the hotel’s beautiful courtyard with its signature red awnings.
A holiday in Paris, staying in a room with a view of the Eiffel Tower is classic bucket-list material. Book your stay and cross that off your list at Hôtel Plaza Athénée. The rooms with balconies and views onto avenue Montaigne and the Eiffel Tower are a fantastic option.
And cuisine? The hotel’s five restaurants and bar and are all overseen by Chef Alain Ducasse. Enough said.
Right through the hotel, suites are a good size and the public areas are lovely.

Virtuoso amenities* at the Plaza Athénée generously include:

• Early check-in subject to availability
• Daily full breakfast for two
• A room upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
• 85 Euro Spa Services credit
• Late check-out subject to availability

Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere
Neighbourhood: Champs-Elysées


We spent some time at the Barriere enjoying a morning in the spa. Like many Parisian hotels, this one has quite a history, and for over a century celebrities have turned its infamous Le Fouquet’s brasserie into a Champs-Élysées institution.
The hotel is quite intimate, known for its discreet service, and celebrities still choose to stay here for that reason. It didn’t take us long to spot Sting, for example. Yes, Sting!
I found the rooms a bit masculine for my liking but they are refurbishing and will be closing for 6 months from until the end of June 2017 to complete the work.

The 81 guestrooms are generous in size and come with the following Virtuoso amenities and perks* when booked with the Spencer Group of Companies:

• Guaranteed upgrade at time of booking up to the Deluxe Suite
• Early check-in subject to availability
• Full American breakfast daily for two
• 85 Euro credit food & beverage or spa (treatment only) per room
• A one-way private transfer for stays of 3 nights or longer
• Late check-out subject to availability

InterContinental Paris Le Grand
Neighbourhood: Opera


This hotel is an absolute Paris landmark and is everything you’d expect from InterContinental.
Built in 1862 by Napoleon III right in the heart of Paris, the hotel overlooks the Opera Garnier and is just steps away from rue St. Honore, Place Vendome and the city’s major department stores.
We had a wonderful dinner here. The hotel is home to two acclaimed restaurants, Café de la Paix, and La Verrière, set in a beautiful winter garden.

A stay here would be an absolute delight, especially with these fabulous Virtuoso privileges*:

• Automatic upgrade from Classic to Superior room – Upgrades on arrival subject to availability for other categories
• Daily Buffet breakfast for two
• Access to the private Club Lounge with complimentary use of all services: (normal supplement is 120 EUR per night)
• VIP welcome amenities and letter
• Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
• 20% spa treatment discount
• Complimentary internet access

Le Meurice, Dorchester Collection
Neighbourhood: Tuileries


Located right on the chic Rue de Rivoli, opposite the Tulleries Gardens and the Louvre, I just love this hotel.
Its beautifully appointed rooms and suites have lovely views of the gardens and Eiffel Tower. 80% of them are interconnecting which makes them perfect for families. This is a very child-friendly luxury property that offers delightful amenities for children.
The spa is fabulous and, since a major refurbishment in 2007 the hotel’s style is a mix of traditional style and Philip Starck chic. Rooms gorgeous and 80% are interconnecting.
And dining? The 2 Michelin starred Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse is divine.

When you’re ready to book, we’ll be ready with these brilliant perks*:

• Early check-in subject to availability
• Room upgrade on arrival subject to availability
• Daily full American breakfast for two
• 85 Euro Food & Beverage credit
• Late check-out subject to availability

Beyond the elegant walls of these hotels Paris shone as brightly as she ever has. I won’t forget my backstage Moulin Rouge experience in a hurry. Likewise, the cocktails with Picasso’s Grandson at the incredible Picasso Museum, lunch at Le Fouquet’s, the perfumier workshop and dinner cruise on the Seine.

Oh, Paris. You’re utterly exhausting.

And irresistible.


*Virtuoso perks and amenities described were correct on 01 December, 2016 and are applicable to stays at these hotels during 2017 when booked with the Spencer Group of Companies.