Paris isn't like any other city when it comes to hotels. For instance, a privileged handful (eight so far) have received the very sought-after 'palace' distinction, thus placing them above the five-star mark. And as well as top standard facilities, each hotel also has its own spa bien sûr – so we tried them all and here are the five that topped our list.
1. Mandarin Oriental
The Mandarin Oriental may not embody the iconic Parisian spirit due to its ultra contemporary interiors, but its spa certainly got our attention. Ultra exclusive, it offers each guest their own massage suite complete with full bathrooms including vitality pools, perfect for those of us who hate having to use the usual communal changing rooms. The suites also come with a magical blanket of twinkling ceiling lights to look up at during the massage. I had the 80-minute Oriental Essence massage with Laëtitia, who I highly recommend for her expert technique. As treatments are tailored to each guest's needs, products used range from gorgeous smelling Aromatherapy Associates oils to luxurious Guerlain creams.
© Mandarin Oriental Paris
2. Dior Institut at the Plaza Athénée
One of the most extravagant experiences in the city, the Dior Institut is a homage to Mr Christian Dior who opened his first boutique close by. Massage rooms have real beds you'd want to spend your life in, with high thread count cotton sheets embroidered with the iconic designer's initials. Each 'haute-couture' treatment is adapted to each guest making the experience very personal. I tried the two-hour Prestige facial, which took me to a new realm of relaxation and serenity. Spa therapist Ludivine worked hard at cleansing and exfoliating the skin on my face, applying masks and massaging almost my entire body, taking me on a veritable journey to tranquillity.
© Dior Institut
3. Crème de la Mer Spa at Park Hyatt Vendôme
While the Park Hyatt Vendôme's spa isn't the most luxurious or the best equipped, the massage I tried was the best of all Paris hotels. Massage therapist Sandrine, in the business for 15 years, has a spark that inspires, a passion that surprises and massage techniques that blow minds. As far as the spa interiors go, they are stark and fairly plain, which is in keeping with Park Hyatt style. The open plan modern Asian style relaxation room has a beautiful large square Jacuzzi rendering the space surprisingly soothing. Labelled as a Crème de la Mer spa, note that the brand's luxurious products are only used for facials.
4. My Blend by Clarins spa at Le Royal Monceau Raffles
In terms of facilities, the My Blend by Clarins spa wins hands down. Designed by Philippe Starck, like the rest of the hotel, the spa is a white haven of relaxation with a lap pool, a sauna and a hammam big enough for an entire football team. The spa also has the best stocked bar we've come across with patisseries by Pierre Hermé, as well as healthier options. The staff is the perfect combination of professional and personable, which put me at ease right away. I tried a body massage and a special hi-tech My Blend facial. Both were excellent, especially the facial; I had never had my face scanned for imperfections and then had a tailor-made treatment where the beauty therapist actually mixes the creams herself.
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With the pleasantly discreet Anne-Sophie I knew I was in expert hands as soon as she started the body massage. With only three massage rooms the spa is ultra-intimate and attractive. Bathed in sunlight, it looks out onto the magnificent indoor hotel pool, which is the largest and most beautiful of all Parisian hotels. Brimming with old world charm, the experience was extremely calming, although regretfully there was no spa bar nor a proper relaxation room to sleep off the drowsy effects of the top-notch massage. The spa uses natural gorgeous smelling products by Thémaé, all made with tea, and French luxury brand Carita.