French Spa Break: La Réserve Paris

French Spa Break: La Réserve Paris

One of the French capital’s particularly exclusive Palace-category hotels, intimate La Réserve Paris is a sumptuously finished hideaway with Michelin-starred dining, a preponderance of tasteful suites and a Nescens spa secreted in its basement.

Location 8/10
Towards the base of the Champs Elysées, the property is encircled by the best of Paris. The Grand Palais and Elysée Palace are nearby; Place de la Concorde and Tuileries gardens are within sauntering distance; the designer boutiques of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré are just around the corner.

The La Réserve Paris library

Style/character 9/10

With its disparate parlours and lounges extravagantly and tastefully decorated with rococo reliefs and leather panelling, and with silk damask and soft velvet lining the walls, this is a dramatically beautiful property — couples who have come to Paris for romance will find it here.

Bedrooms (there are just 40 in total, with 26 of them suites) show a touch more restraint and are subtly embedded with bang-up-to-date tech — think TVs disguised within mirrors, stylish glass speakers by French brand Waterfall and kettles with adjustable boiling points so you can ensure your brew steeps at exactly the right temperature.

Petite but stylish and pristine, the subterranean spa is fronted by a series of private changing cabins, their doors a bold lacquered red and their interiors entirely bedecked in mirrors. Flanked by cherry-red banquettes, a 16m pool serves as the floor’s centrepiece.

The hotel’s Suite Ambassadeur

Spa facilities 4/10
The hotel’s small footprint means the spa’s facilities are understandably limited. Alongside the three treatment rooms, there is a small but well-equipped gym, steam room and the aforementioned pool (guests keen to recline and rest by the pool post-massage might find the banquettes unaccommodating, unfortunately there isn’t sufficient space to additionally offer loungers). Changing cabins come stocked with La Réserve’s own brand of delicious-smelling toiletries. Facilities are accessible 24 hours a day.

The subterranean swimming pool, accessible to guests day and night

The treatments 8/10
La Réserve Paris is one of very few hotels to provide treatments by Swiss ‘anti-ageing’ line Nescens. Highly trained therapists are convincing advocates for the brand, competently explaining the composition of the products used and enthusiastically providing skincare advice if so requested.

Though an extensive range of relaxing and energising massages is offered, most clients favour one of the Nescens facial treatments. I chose the men’s hour-long fundamental anti-ageing preventive cosmeceutical facial (€200), which was administered expertly by my therapist. Wrapped up warm and fully at ease on a heated massage bed, I was able to tell the treatment was proving effective even in my eyes-closed, soporific state. Nescens products, I learned, have a particularly high concentration of pharmaceutical ingredients and a complete cleanse and subsequent light peel left me fully fresh faced. I really did leave the spa feeling and looking brighter and better.

Food & drink 6/10
Another pretty, golden-hued room, restaurant La Pagode de Cos serves a modern take on traditional Bordeaux cuisine as the day progresses, but based on breakfast service at least, the experience is disappointing. Though quiet during my visit, inattentive staff were slow to serve and struggled to efficiently deliver basic food orders. An exceptionally beautiful library area, open only to guests and with its pantry stocked with freshly baked cookies, provides another inviting nook in which to linger over tea or a light lunch, but was (for me) unusable due to the inescapable smell of stale smoke from the neighbouring cigar lounge.

Fine dining at Le Gabriel

The experience is far more satisfactory at Le Gabriel. Dimly lit and sophisticated, the two Michelin-starred restaurant serves progressive but unpretentious modern French cuisine (pigeon with cocoa and crispy buckwheat; passion fruit soufflé with black sesame praline). Service from the well-informed team is exemplary; this is a place that feels special. Next door, Le Bar’s petite stature belies the vast array of wines on offer — this is a good spot for an unrushed cocktail.

Favourite thing: The property’s exceptional beauty. Though the hotel opened only in 2015 and nothing but the grand old fireplaces remain as relics of the 19th-century building’s previous lives, interiors are so timelessly, decadently beautiful that — in the nicest possible way — it almost seems as if La Réserve has been part of Paris for ever.

Could be better: Service fell short of expectation throughout my stay. From sloppy delivery at breakfast to the inefficiency of my butler — though one is allocated to every room, mine was invisible until I queried their absence to management — I was consistently underwhelmed. A proactive concierge and skilled restaurant staff at Le Gabriel did at least make up somewhat for those shortcomings.

The details
Double rooms at La Réserve Paris (+33 1 58 36 60 60) start from €1,100 (£960). One-hour facials from €180 and one-hour massages from €200.