I can’t recall just how many hoteliers have explained the unique factor of their hotel being that it’s “a home away from home” for guests. I have heard this so often I am at a point of questioning this argument…
… don’t some people stay at hotels because they don’t want to be at home? Simply for the pleasure of staying at a hotel and everything this experience entails? If they want a home, why travel at all?
The other question I ask myself is whether anyone expects a guest to pay hundreds of Euros a night for a room that would be his “home” when his real home is probably a lot more: a spacious and elegant property decorated and designed with dedication and care, filled with personal items and tokens of memories past?
And even if it’s not that generously sized, it will most likely be bigger than the average hotel room – albeit not as big as some hotel suites I have come across over the years. But that’s another story.
I had been thinking about this a lot and so I was surprised when I recently stayed at Hotel Le Bristol in Paris and was so much at ease you could say I felt, well, as if I had come home. I didn’t think I’d ever feel like like this in a hotel and was wondering what could have triggered this feeling? Although I had never stayed here before, it felt very familiar. I was relaxed. Not relaxed in the way that I would put track pants on and lounge on a lobby sofa, but differently.
After I was escorted to my suite I sat down in an armchair and tried to analyze why I felt this way.
Was it for Fa-raon, the hotel’s Burmese kitten (pictured below) walking through my legs while I was standing at reception? This is her home more than anyone’s and you’ll see her wandering through the hotel’s gardens, playing in the lobby or strolling past the bar inspecting the scene, clearly enjoying the guests’ attention.
I looked around; perhaps it was because of the interior design? Tastefully done by Madame Oetker, with lots of individual items carefully arranged and furniture upholstered with great quality fabrics, the decor is as individual as it gets for a hotel this size. Or was it because of the size of my suite with its apartment-like layout and spacious terrace over the quiet courtyard? Enjoying the terrace was only spoiled by a short yet heavy afternoon shower, similar to my terrace in London.
While my mind meandered, I nibbled from a plate of the hotel’s homemade macarons, some of the best I ever had, bringing back childhood memories of my grandmother and her legendary pastry skills.
Pastries are my weakness, but in the end the answer to my question was quite simply the combination of all of the above, held together by the endless attentiveness, kindness and friendliness of every single member of staff. From the moment I was welcomed and checked in, I was treated like a dearly missed member of the family returning home. Throughout my stay it was the staff, who perfected the art of walking the thin red line between being too casual and too formal by hitting the right tone at all times.
I had never stayed at Le Bristol before but felt so very welcome and taken care of, I knew this was home; a home I never knew I had.