WMW and the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal

I first discovered the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal after walking through the Palais Royal a couple of years ago. I looked it up on Instagram to find that they had a beautiful account that I began to follow, enjoying the regular dose of inspiration from the hotel and its surrounding areas. 

The Grand Hotel du Palais Royal is a small luxury, five star boutique hotel, just a stone’s throw from the Louvre and across the road from the stunning Palais Royal. With interiors designed by by Pierre-Yves Rochon, the hotel is chic and elegant, wrapping you in private luxury from the hustle and bustle outside. It is also part of an 18th century building with aspects of it holding a historical designation, including the facade. Some of the 68 rooms and suites in the hotel have their own balcony with stunning views of Paris and famous landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur. Throughout the hotel, fresh flowers and plants greet you as a nod to the stunning Palais Royal gardens on its doorstep. You can also indulge your senses at the Le Lulli Restaurant, Lounge Bar, and Carita Spa

The Palais Royal area is a fantastic location when visiting Paris due to its proximity to so many of the city's main attractions:

- Famous monuments and sites: Palais Royal with its beautifully landscaped gardens and black and white podiums, Jardin des Tuileries, and the Comédie Française theatre;

- Some of Paris's chicest boutiques, restaurants, brasseries, and cafés, including shops in the covered arcades of Palais Royal, rue Saint Honoré, and Place des Victoires (including Christian Louboutin, Pierre Hardy, Marc Jacobs, and Stella McCartney);

- World-renowned museums, galleries, and art dealers, including the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, and National Museum of Modern Art (Georges Pompidou Centre)

I recently stayed at this beautiful hotel, feeling like royalty from the moment I arrived. An attentive doorman was waiting to open the door to my taxi, sheltering me from the downpour of rain with an umbrella overhead and whisked me inside. Inside, I received a warm welcome from Concierge, who checked me in quickly while also explaining all the amenities and services available. I then had a bellboy guide me to my suite. 

I stayed in the Palais Royal Suite, which took my breath away as soon as the door opened. When you step inside, you are greeted by a plush chaise lounge and small terrace overlooking the courtyard, and a staircase (!) leading up to the rest of the suite. As I walked upstairs, I took in the warm and welcoming bedroom, chic, modern bathroom made of glass and marble, and inviting living room with a walk-out terrace. I actually felt happy that it was stormy outside so that I could change into the cozy bathrobe and relax in my mini palace in the heart of Paris, watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle on the hour.

The suite is on the 7th floor and has private access. The view from the living room looks out to the Opera Garnier and Sacre Coeur Basilica, as well as looking over the Palais Royal and street below where you can watch the world go by. 

The jaw-dropping bathroom is all glass, light and marble, with a double sink, deep bathtub with a lovely window view, and separate shower stall. Those who follow me know that high quality toiletries are always a sign of a great hotel, so I was very happy to see that luxurious Atelier Cologne products were provided, as well as the extra thoughtful touches including vanity and dental kits. Make a cup of coffee with your own Nespresso machine and walk out to your private terrace, where you can gaze out to the Eiffel Tower and Louvre. 

After enjoying a delicious buffet breakfast in the hotel's restaurant, Le Lulli, take a stroll into the Palais Royal with its chic black and white-striped podiums and perfectly manicured gardens to enjoy a coffee at one of Paris’s most popular coffee shops, Café Kitsune.

After a day of exploring Paris, pop into the hotel's cozy Lounge Bar for some tea and pastries. Or, enjoy a masterfully mixed cocktail or tasty bite to eat, open from 11am to 11pm. If you're feeling fancy, enjoy the Champagne Bar, where you can choose from over 30 different selections. 

At the Le Lulli Restaurant, which is housed inside a winter garden flooded with light, enjoy exquisite French cuisine by Executive Chef Clement Le Norcy, trained by Michelin Star Head Chefs Francois Adamski and Michel Portos. Le Norcy works with quality, seasonal, regional, and organic products in his creations. For reservations, contact lelulli@ghparis.com or +33 142 96 72 20.

I enjoyed a wonderful hour-long massage at the Carita Spa. Part of the personalized luxury touch was the fact that service can be upon request until late in the evening. After arriving on a Friday evening during a storm after a long week, I rang the Concierge who arranged a massage for later in the evening, which was divine. The Spa features a large Turkish bath, two treatment rooms, a beauty salon (including hairdressing and nail services), and wide menu of services, as well as a fitness room with state-of-the-art exercise equipment and personal training. You can also purchase Carita products and Kure Bazaar nail polish on site. You can also enjoy the services of the Spa if you aren't a guest at the hotel; however, access to the fitness centre and hammam is reserved for the guests of the Carita Spa and Hotel. The Spa is open daily from 9am to 10pm. 

A unique offer by the hotel is to enjoy an exclusive tour of the Palais Royal and learn about its history, including it being the former palace of Cardinal Richelieu (originally built in 1639) and how it became the most important market in Europe in the 18th century. The tour lasts between 1.5 to 2 hours with tea included at the hotel lounge. The price per person is 130 € per person (2 persons minimum, 55 € per additional person).

Additional services offered by the hotel include 24 hour room service, daily turndown service with complimentary water, laundry and dry cleaning services, highly trained 'Clefs d'or' concierge, a business centre, valet services, and complimentary wifi. Multiple languages are spoken by staff including French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian. The Concierge can also help you with everything from booking restaurant reservations to theatre tickets to key sights and attractions in Paris - nothing is too much trouble!

 

Getting There:

The hotel is easy to find. If arriving by plane, it takes about 45 minutes from Charles de Gaulle Airport, and 30-45 minutes from Orly Airport. If you arrive via the Eurostar, the hotel can be reached in about 15 - 20 minutes by taxi from the Gard du Nord or by Metro (lines 1 and 7; Palais Royal - Musee de Louvre). From Gare de Lyon, it is about a 10 - 15 minute taxi ride. You can also take the bus via lines 21, 48, 69, 72, or 81. There is also a Velib bike station about 50 metres from the hotel. 

The hotel also offers private transfers, which can be arranged with the concierge team prior to, and during, your arrival.

 

Paris City Guide

Need some more Paris inspiration? Check out some of my favourite things to do in Paris here!

 

 

Source: grandhoteldupalaisroyal

In Praise of Slow Travel

I recently shared my article below with the Huffington Post, which you can find here, or below as I wanted to share it with you all here as wel! 

During my travels over the past few months, I have noticed a trend. In today’s connected society and new, impressive devices, smart phones, and DSLRs, we are keen to snap photos and share them on our favourite social media sites. However, while taking in the views of the River Arno in Florence, it quite literally hit me when I was jostled out of the way by a group of 15 nuns on an organised sightseeing tour, who proceeded to reach their smartphones out in succession, snapping photos of the Ponte Vecchio and dashing away to the next sight without taking time to stop and look at it. I realised then that an epidemic of fast-food travel has hit us.

Don’t get me wrong - I love photography and enjoy social media. Photographing new places is a great joy. But over the past year in particular, I have been making a conscious attempt to stop, observe, and take in sights and the world around me first by taking a mental picture. I don’t want to have to recall my trip by having to scroll through my camera phone; I want to be an active participant in the world around me, and remember the experience and memories.

I have also been more consciously observing what others around me are doing. It’s a sea of smartphones snapping photos. People taking more selfies of themselves rather than the sights. Trying to manoeuvre around the masses of selfie sticks waving in the air. At a museum in Florence, I watched a large group of young people on a school trip walking past exhibits filming everything on their smartphones without stopping to read or take in what they were looking at. I saw others taking photos of relics where a sign next to it read to respect the sacred nature of the artefacts in the room.

I wonder how much the people around me are taking in of their experience. Travel should be about using all of your senses to interact with a new place and immersing yourself in the experience, rather than trying to cram in as much as possible to tick things off a list and take hundreds of snaps to post on social media.

The joy of travel comes from learning about a new place, a new culture, new people. On park benches, outdoor cafes, museums, and restaurants, on their own or with others, people are engrossed in their phones rather than their surroundings or company. Last weekend, while sitting in the hotel lounge with an incredible view of the Hong Kong skyline, I was enjoying lunch while taking in the view. A friendly waiter came by to inform me that they did indeed have free wifi, seemingly concerned that I was apparently the only one not using my smartphone and taking selfies with my lunch.

So, I’ve got a proposition for us. Let’s put down the smartphones more, enjoy our surroundings and make memories by being fully present when we’re exploring new places (or everyday life, for that matter). Take in new sights, meet new people. Let’s embrace ‘slow’ travel and observe the world through our own eyes and not just the lens of our camera. Life flies by quickly enough. Let’s slow it down by enjoying the precious holiday time we have by living in the moment in real life and not just on social media. Take the time to breathe, unplug, and enjoy the break that we have worked hard to get. Discard detailed itineraries and go with the flow. In essence, slow travel is the newest old way to travel and a luxury in today’s busy world. 

Exploring London Town

Living in London is never dull. It's chaotic, fascinating, exciting, interesting and never ever a shortage of things to do. I can't believe that there are still so many museums, events, and sights that I need to check out that I haven't seen before, but I'm making my way through exploring the city. Here are a few things I've been doing recently from Instagram - come follow along with me! You can find me on Instagram at @woman.meets.world

Travel Smart: Save and Spend Where It Matters

I truly believe there is no money wasted on travelling. I remember telling this to friends last year, who promptly began to laugh but then stopped and realized I had a point – while also pointing out to me that travel can be really expensive.

Over the past few years, I’ve had lots of people make comments to me about how much I travel, asking how I can do it, have I won the lottery, how much do you earn, the classic ‘must be nice’. It was starting to get to me because at the end of the day, I work hard and travel is something I love to do.

It also got me thinking about travel perceptions, misconceptions, and realities about costs. Yes, travel involves money, but it genuinely does not have to be expensive. Over the years, I’ve picked up various lessons and tips through experience along the way, trial and error, speaking to friends, colleagues, reading websites, blogs, and magazines. I realized that instead of getting upset when I perceived people to be questioning me, why not share how I plan and budget my travel because spending my money effectively and wisely is important to me! It really doesn’t have to be expensive, I promise, and all it involves is a bit of patience and knowing a few tips and tricks. A wonderful trip, long or short, can always be tailored to your budget, priorities, and preference.

 

I believe there are three stages to any trip:

1)      Selecting and Booking Your Destination

2)      Trip Planning Ahead of Departure

3)      While You’re There

 

Part I: Selecting and Booking Your Destination

  • For me, this is often the hardest part because I have such a long list of places I want to visit – where do you even begin?? Sometimes you have somewhere specific in mind, which can be helpful sometimes, such as visiting a friend or event. Sometimes you just want to get away somewhere – anywhere – or want to do a short city break or epic long trip.

 

  • There is one email that I enjoy receiving every Wednesday: Travelzoo’s Hot 20 Travel Picks of the Week. It’s always filled with some great inspiration. Not only are the Top 20 finds that they scour the Internet for great (free to sign up on their website), but they also have great deals that crop up for your local area (e.g., theatre, spa, restaurants). I’ve been using this site for years.

 

 

  • Do you have friends living abroad? Family? That can help you narrow your destination down. Or, just dive into your list and start somewhere when a great deal arises.

 

Flights

  • One of my new favourite apps is Hopper. This great little app helps calculate flight costs with a twist: it helps identify for you with a high degree of accuracy the best time to book your flight. You can put a ‘watch’ on a certain flight route you’re interested in and it will message you with updates if it goes down, up, or to take the plunge and buy now.

 

  • I recently also discovered a site called SkyPicker, which I used for my flight to Stockholm recently. It identified a fare to travel here for the weekend form London for £66 – how to say no to that! It also has a cool feature where you can put in your starting destination and select a radius (e.g., for me, I will pinpoint London and radiate out across Europe to find the best deals available).

 

  • The one site for flight research I always check out is Kayak – especially for planning multi-city trips as it gathers information from a large number of different airlines and websites worldwide and pulls together loads of options to choose from and customise, finding the best deals and combinations to pick from.

 

  • When searching for flights, regardless of website, check the ‘flexible with dates’ box (if you have flexibility). This will show you whether it is cheaper or more expensive to fly in or out a day or so earlier or later. This has definitely been helpful to me in the past.

 

  • Connecting flights can often be cheaper than direct. But, consider the money saved against time lost. There are some connection cities I avoid at all costs – NYC and Chicago airports in particular. I have rarely had a flight to or from these cities that has not been delayed or baggage lost. If this happens, missing your connection can be highly likely, which then cuts into your time, cost, and stress levels. Some cities are extremely efficient at connections though – Munich and Frankfurt in particular. But keep in mind that both of these airports are enormous and you need to be focused in finding your next gate to avoid missing your connection.

 

Hotels

  • Ok, so you’ve secured your flight, let’s work on your accommodation. In many ways, it’s all dependent on where I’m traveling and if I’m going with someone or on my own.

 

  • I have had a lot of luck over the past year with using Priceline – specifically, their Blind Bids or Express Deals. The catch with these is that you can grab a fantastic deal for 4 and 5*plus hotels, but you won’t know what the hotel is until after you complete the purchase. This can feel risky to many people (myself included) because you want to stay somewhere that you’ll feel comfortable and enjoy. But, you can do this using calculated risk:
    • Priceline allows you to select the neighbourhood you are interested in and the star level.
    • What I usually do then is do a google search for the hotels in the city and/or that particular neighbourhood under the star levels I’m interested in to get an idea of what I might secure.
    • Withthe Express Deals, there is a significantly reduced price named; with the Bids, you enter a price, which checks with the hotels to see if they will accept your bid.

 

  • Other sites that I have used are hotels.com, booking.com and Agoda, all of which have found me terrific deals. Agoda is particularly good for finding amazing hotel deals across Asia. 

 

Airbnb

  •  I’ve had terrific luck with Airbnb over the past few years, staying in terrific flats in European cities, such as Paris, Athens, and Rome, as well as beautiful villas in Greece. You can find fab places at customizable prices based on your budget. I’ve never had a problem with the Airbnb properties I’ve stayed in.

 

  • It works by setting up a profile and requesting to stay at a property. The owner has the ability to select who they have stay at their property because understandably, they want someone that will take care of their place too. Read the reviews of the property and do a bit of research on the area, and select where you’d like to stay. Consider factors such as proximity to transit, amenities, and safety.

 

Loyalty Programs

  • A colleague of mine says that no travel should be ‘point-less’ and he’s right. If you are travelling and/or staying with a company that offers a reward program, sign up for it and get the points. You never know what the future holds as you may end up staying with the hotel chain again or flying frequently with the airline (or affiliates, such as Star Alliance or One World). 

 

Check out Part II: Before You Go here

London Life

What else have I been up to since moving to London three weeks ago? Sharing a few of the places I've visited and explored. Follow along as I post on my Instagram at @woman.meets.world - I'd love to get your London recommendations!

Some of my favourite places featured in the photos below:

Uber Your Way Through New Cities

Have you tried Uber yet? It's easy and convenient, and operates in many cities worldwide. I was quite hesitant at first and didn't believe it could be quite as easy and great as everyone says it is.

All you need is the app and an account (takes minutes to create), and a ride is at your fingertips. No worrying about whether you are going far enough for them to take you or having to haggle over whether they take cash, debit or credit cards at the end of a ride. All you have to do is hop out. And - you get to rate your driver anonymously afterwards. Drivers have to have a minimum of 4 out of 5 stars in order to continue driving with Uber. 

Why not give it a try by having your first ride free? You can do just that by entering my discount code into the promo code box and you can get your first ride free up to $20! Code is: rheannesue.

Let me know what you think after you try it!

A Traveller's Best Friend For Packing

After being very excited that Muji finally opened its first store in Toronto, I made my over to visit. While there, I picked up my new packing hero - Muji's mesh double-zipped garment bag. Available in various sizes, I decided to pick up a medium and try it out. As a frequent traveller (currently travelling somewhere new for work every week these days), I am working on getting my packing down to a science to save time and effort.

This bag is lightweight, folds up into a small bag for storage, fits my small suitcase perfectly, and keeps my clothes neat, contained, and organized. All I have to do is lift it out of my case, unzip it, and find exactly what I'm looking for quickly without having to rummage through my case. 

I like using this bag to keep my work blouses, suit jackets, and t-shirts together. I've found that they wrinkle less now, saves room in my suitcase and saves time in re-packing. I feel such a sense of calm when I open my suitcase at my new destination and pull out this neat little package of clothing. And -  it also fits quite a lot inside the case. It's a great price and durable. I highly recommend trying it out! 

Photos above courtesy of Muji

Parisian Architecture

In Toronto (and many places in North America), part of the thrill and appeal of Europe is the history of the buildings - many of which are much much older than our own countries. We live in cities that are very new, not the greatest at preserving heritage buildings, and lots of glass and concrete rectangular buildings which often look alike. 

Wandering around in Paris is a visual feast. Parisian architecture celebrates detail, beauty, and history, as opposed to solely function and efficiency. It also helps that the Parisian light seems ethereal and illuminates the buildings in beautiful ways. At sunset, so many of its buildings seem to glow in the sunlight. When in Paris (or anywhere in Europe to be honest), be sure to look up, down, and all around you as you'll never know what intricate details and surprises you  might find! Below are some of my favourites from my recent trip in April. 

xo Rheanne 

Postcards from Paris: An Ode to the Eiffel Tower in the Springtime

I have a confession to make. I am deeply in love with the Eiffel Tower and I just can't get enough of it. Yes, I realize how much of a tourist that statement makes me sound but I can't help it. I've been to Paris four times now and I often find that it's one of my first stops. I get a rush of excitement when I see it rising above the city. I love it in the morning, noon, and night. I adore it in the evening the most when it sparkles and glimmers - absolutely magical. Once it starts sparkling at the top of the hour for a few minutes during the evening, there are always people around who gasp and adore in its brilliance. I have heard more than one French person exclaim, "Ooh la la!", which to someone who is not French is fantastic! Its intricate details, its curves, its romantic design....it's no wonder it has become a worldwide symbol for Paris. There is something that draws people to it and can gaze at it for ages. 

I hadn't ever seen it just after sunrise in the early morning hours, so I made it my mission this time to do that. I went early on a Monday morning before the crowds had appeared and when the spring sunlight was hazy and glowing. This is my ode to the Eiffel Tower through photos and I hope you like it! 

 

xo Rheanne 

Postcards from Paris: Sunday Morning in Le Marais

Ahhhh, Paris! Paris is beautiful in all seasons, but I truly believe that it is most magical in the springtime. People are out and about again, soaking in the spring sunshine, drinking coffee outside in bistros on boulevards, and riding on bicycles. The city is awakening with the green buds appearing on the trees and shots of colour with tulips appearing in gardens and parks. And perhaps most mesmorizing is when the cherry blossoms burst into bloom in shades of fluffy white and candy floss pink. 

I wanted to take a few days off from work and to have a break between finishing my last course module of my MSc before launching into my dissertation. That, combined with a flight sale from Air Canada, and I couldn't say no to a trip to Paris last minute trip. I booked a lovely flat in Le Marais through Airbnb to try a new arrondissement (I stayed in Saint-Germain des Pres last time and loved it there too) and I was all set.

My flat was located just off Rue Vielle du Temple - a fantastic location as it was close to both the St Paul and Hotel du Ville metro stations on Rue de Rivoli, Place des Vosges, as well as a wide selection of wonderful restaurants, boulangeries, and shopping - including some of my favourites like Le Mary Celeste, Mariages Freres, and L'Eclair de Genie.  

It's a beautiful arrondissement to stay, visit and explore with many nooks and little streets to explore as it is one of the oldest areas of the city with many important historical and architectural sights. Make sure to wander around its winding streets and let yourself get lost - that's always how you make the best discoveries! On my walk, I stumbled across a wonderful little boulangerie called Au Petit Versailles Du Marais, which has the most bread and pastries - but you must try their pain au chocolat as they are to die for! Their bread was also an award winner for the Top 10 baguettes in Paris. It's tiny but beautiful indoors, with all of the meticulously prepared, colourfully pastries that look too lovely to eat (but not quite because they are so delicious!) on display under a glittering chandelier. There is some outdoor seating when it's nice outside, though no indoor seating.

Sharing a few photos with you from a lovely Sunday morning two weeks ago wandering around Le Marais in the beautiful, warm morning spring sunshine. There's nothing like taking a few deeps breaths of the fresh air and turning your face to the sun to feel its warmth after the winter, and taking in all of the sights and the scents around you, like the aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries, to make you feel reinvigorated and ready to take on the world!