Nocturnes at Le Meurice, Paris

Le Meurice in Paris manages to combine understated elegance with quirkiness while at the same time enveloping you in a cocoon of luxury. That is the best way I can think of to describe this de luxe (in the truest sense of the word) luxury hotel. The history of the hotel goes back to 1771 in Calais where the founder of the hotel, Charles-Augustin Meurice took it upon himself to set up a hostelry for tired British travellers on their way to Paris. Charles Augustine owned a coach service and from there the travellers would take his coaches to Paris where – surprise! he set up a second inn for them to check into after the long journey from the coast. From these humble beginnings, Le Meurice was born. In 1835, the hotel moved to its present location, across from the Tuilieries. Due to it’s close proximity to the Louvre Palace, it soon became a favourite of visiting royalty and became known as the Hotel des Rois (Hotel of the Kings). Throughout the years the hotel also served as a refuge for royalty, as well, the Shah of Iran was actually staying at the hotel when he was deposed. Probably one of the most famous guests of the hotel was Salvador Dali. He would stay at the hotel every year for at least a month and was noted for his, shall we say, unusual behaviour. On one occasion he requested a herd of live sheep be delivered to his room and once they arrived began shooting at them with blanks! Ah, artists. Another time he asked the staff to catch flies in the Tuilieries and paid them the equivalent of 1 euro per fly. The legacy of Dali’s visit was the establishment of Prix Meurice for Contemporary Art. Launched in 2008, it’s aim is to support young French artists. As you enter the foyer of the hotel, you are greeted by a pair of almost entwined columns, one of the winners of the Meurice Prize. The...

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Cocktails at The Connaught

The Connaught Hotel has an eponymous bar tucked in back of the lobby which is a hidden gem. Sure, you might get sucked into the lush Coburg Bar which fronts the building but if you walk straight in through the revolving doors, past the lobby desk and make a left when you hit a dead end, you’ll be walking into a locals only kind of place, where you have to be in the know to find this watering hole. Silver walls and alligator coloured Art Deco inspired chairs and tables and marbled floors give the Connaught bar a cool vibe while still retaining a veneer of Jazz Era glamour. I can just imagine strolling in and ordering a perfect Manhattan. Which is what I did one afternoon when I was invited for drinks at the Connaught. Oh,the perfect Manhattan. Although I’m The Winesleuth, I do like bourbon and this American expat is always looking for the perfect Manhattan in London. I don’t know why but it is difficult to get a properly made one in London, although I have noticed that I am having to send them back fewer and fewer times nowadays. The Connaught passed the Manhattan test with flying colours. Made with Maker’s Mark, as requested, and even though there were no maraschino cherries, (they did have their own specially infused cherries) it was served on the rocks the first time around, or rather, one big rock. Yes, I encountered that big ball of ice again. This time it was explained to me that the round ball of ice actually melts very slowly and thus you get a cold drink without it being watered down, ah-ha! I also tried another American classic, the Mint Julep. Heaps of shaved ice, fresh mint and a mini strainer in the drink to sieve the bourbon as I sipped. Very well done but a touch too sweet after the Manhattan. I should have started with the Mint Julep and then gone on to a Manhattan. Live...

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