BACKGROUND Starwood launched the 42nd property under its luxury design-led W brand in February. The W Paris Opéra opened exactly a year after its London Leicester Square hotel (for a review visit www.businesstraveller.com/tried-and-tested), with Singapore, Bangkok and Guangzhou to follow this year, and Milan next year.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Housed in an 1870s Haussman building opposite the Opéra Garnier, the property has retained some of the original features but is very much a modern proposition. This being the City of Light, the design concept is “the Spark”, with black walls in the rooms and public spaces featuring a backlit dotted pattern that changes colour. You enter a stone arcade area with a vaulted ceiling, lifts to the rooms, and loud pop music playing. To the left is a small black reception room with white feather-plumed pens on the desks. At busy times, this space can get quite full. I visited the hotel while it was holding its launch party and, as such, this was one of those busy times. There was a small queue when I arrived at lunchtime and when I tried to get my keycard later – disappointingly, my room wasn’t ready until after 5pm – I had to wait again while two staff served one person. Staff were otherwise friendly and eager to help. To the right is the W lounge and bar, decked out in silver and black with a DJ booth and a mirrored wall covered in Parisian caricatures. It made a sleek and lively setting for the party.
WHERE IS IT? On Rue Meyerbeer in the ninth arrondissement. Being across from the Opéra, about half of the 91 rooms offer views of that spectacular building. There is an Apple shop next door and a huge Galerie Lafeyette store around the corner. Gare du Nord is about a 10-minute drive away and Charles de Gaulle airport about 45 minutes, traffic permitting.
ROOM FACILITIES Of the three W properties I have stayed in (the others being London and New York Lexington Avenue), this was my favourite room. In the Spectacular category (above Cosy and Wonderful, which are much the same in terms of facilities but differ in terms of their view and space, being 18 sqm-20 sqm and 23 sqm respectively, compared with 21 sqm-28 sqm), it was bright and comfortable with an Opéra view. As in London, it has been cleverly designed to maximise the feeling of space, but in a more functional way – there is a proper workdesk in the corner by the window, instead of the bar-cum-basin in Leicester Square, and while the bathroom area is still open to the rest of the room, with closets for the walk-in rainshower and toilet, it has been designed to afford greater privacy and more of a defined washing/dressing area. (Note, if you are sharing a room with someone, that the towels are housed outside the shower.) Unfortunately, the toilet wasn’t working properly for part of my stay – either dripping water or not flushing at all – and I had to inform maintenance twice.
The room is well set up in terms of technology, with a 42-inch flatscreen TV, a media hub by the desk, plenty of plug sockets (EU), wired/wifi internet (€19/US$25 per 24 hours, free in public areas), an alarm clock/iPod dock and a Sanctuary hub with 11 leads for powering gadgets. Standard facilities include a king bed with 300-thread-count linens, a robe and slippers, a minibar, free mineral water, air conditioning, a laptop safe and Bliss amenities. Suites, which are 32 sqm-88 sqm, have a living area and a separate bathroom (some have free-standing tubs). Rooms also feature tongue-in-cheek, Paris-inspired elements such as intricately illustrated throws, and cushions depicting fantastically attractive models dressed as Marie Antoinette, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Joan of Arc, Napoleon and the Marquis de Sade. Note that ceilings are lower the higher up the building you are.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The signature restaurant is Arola, headed up by double Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola and showcasing the Spaniard’s “pica pica” concept of sharing plates. I tasted a range of his beautifully crafted delicacies, many of which play on traditional dishes such as tortilla and patatas bravas, and they were delicious. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I found the breakfast service a little disorganised when it was busy – teething problems, I’m sure, for a hotel still “bedding in”. The W lounge and bar is open 9am-2am.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Two meeting rooms on the mezzanine floor accommodate eight people each or can be combined to hold 16.
LEISURE FACILITIES A gym with Technogym equipment is located on the top floor. In-room spa treatments can be arranged.
While, for me, the public areas don’t perhaps have the “wow” of some other top-end Paris properties, the hotel certainly offers something new for the city, and its well-designed rooms and quirky features will please W fans as well as those seeking something a little less traditional.HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 91 – seven Cosy, 33 Wonderful and 31 Spectacular rooms, eight Marvellous Studio and two Fantastic Studio suites, and four Fabulous, four Wow and two Extreme Wow suites. ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The wonderful Opéra view, excellent walk-in rainshower and good technology. PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in June start from €540 (US$710) for a Cosy room. CONTACT W Paris Opéra, 4 Rue Meyerbeer; tel +33 177 489 494; www.wparisopera.com