Travel

By Kimberly McDonald

When you hear “Westminster” you probably think of the kennel club and its poncey dog show…you might even think of England, but unless you have visited the Warwick’s Hotel Westminster, you probably don’t think of Paris. One visit will change all of that. Located on Rue de la Paix, between Opera and Place Vendome, this prestigious hotel has more than a fancy address and beautifully appointed rooms. There is a character to the Westminster that is often lacking in many other grand hotels. Perhaps it’s the 150-year history, or the meld of French and English decor and convention.

I began my stay at the hotel with an introduction to the main floor lobby, which is richly decorated yet very warm and comfortable. It was just a hint of what lay ahead in my room, the Van Cleef & Arpels suite. Of course, the name alone lends itself to certain expectations, and the Westminster lived up to every one of them. In fact, each room that I toured while staying at the hotel was beautifully decorated, warm, inviting and elegant.

The bathrooms are fully modernized and spacious. They have been finished with marble floors and countertops and large sumptuous tubs that are ideal, considering you are right in the heart of Paris’ luxury shopping district. Rooms also come equipped with air conditioning, high-speed Internet connections, voicemail, safes and very well-stocked mini-bar.

What makes the Westminster particularly special in my eyes, all of these amenities aside, is the staff. Truly charming and helpful, with none of the reputed Parisian attitude, this is where I learned how propitious a concierge could be. In fact the entire staff was helpful, friendly, and accommodating. Even when placing a room service order, after a bit of a challenge due to language constraints, there was a knock at my door and I answered to find the assistant to the chef standing there, with a menu in hand, to be sure that we had communicated accurately so that my order would be prepared as desired.

The Westminster also has a new fitness center, located on the top floor, that has a stunning view of Paris. The center is also air conditioned, to keep you cool as you work out in this sunbathed facility. There is also a lovely, relaxing Orlane spa where you can book beauty treatments and massages. There is a steam room as well, for a relaxing infusion of eucalyptus. Because the Orlane spa is managed by Orlane, I recommend making spa appointments in advance, though I am advised that an hour or two is all the notice the hotel needs to have a technician on site.

For the true gourmand, The Westminster’s Le Celadon Restaurant is reason enough to make this hotel your home while in Paris. The Michelin One Star rated eatery lives up to its name with its decor. Elegantly decorated with silk, crystal and celadon porcelain in a mixture of oriental and regency decor, it is clearly the ideal restaurant for The Westminster.

I was so charmed by this hotel and its staff that I truly hated to leave. It is a must for anyone traveling to Paris for pleasure, shopping, the opera, whatever brings you to the City of Lights. Warwick International Hotels owns the Westminster, giving travelers two Warwick options in Paris. I also spent a night at the sister hotel to the Westminster, the Warwick Champs-Elysees Paris, where I found an equally charming and helpful staff (you have to appreciate a concierge who gets you the best table in the house at Kong, with just a day’s notice) and a more modern flair. Boasting spacious and well-appointed rooms in a hotel located on the Champs Elysee, this hotel is ideal for business travelers and visitors who want to enjoy the nightlife on the famous tree-lined street.

For more information on the Westminster and other Warwick hotels, go to http://www.warwickhotels.com or telephone them at (33) 1 42 61 57 46

Originally published April 2005
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