Bella Vita certainly made some great new discoveries this year! Our first full year returning to “normal” travel, we were able to get moving again.
We handle every aspect of your vacation from the moment you land until your departure. Our partners, be it a 5-star hotel, art history scholar, local chef, or in-country experts, have been hand-picked. This is based on our stringent criteria. We personally visit these hotels, restaurants and do these tours ourselves. This means that we know in detail what our clients expect and what they deserve. Traveling and making new discoveries (and visiting some old favorites) is part of our job. It’s how we provide meticulous planning, superb service, VIP amenities, and first-rate experiences.
Over the next few weeks, we will share with you some of our favorite discoveries (and some places we love but visited again) in several of the destinations that we personally traveled to this year.
This week, we start with a recent trip. Both Megan, BVT’s founder and travel expert, and Christine, our digital marketing manager and travel assistant, were in Paris the same week with two very different trips. Megan attended DUCO Paris, an annual boutique luxury travel summit, while exploring the city. Christine was there for a personal trip with friends in the hospitality industry, so she ate her way through Paris.
Here are some of their discoveries in one of our favorite cities!
Hotel discoveries in Paris
The Lutetia is the only Palace hotel on the Left Bank. Its iconic art deco facade, chic interiors, world-class spa, vibrant bar (one of the hottest places in town!), and beyond-stellar service make this hotel stand out as one of the best in Paris. I was fortunate enough to stay in a Deluxe Room with an Eiffel Tower view. The bedroom was spacious and sleek (loved the electronic touch screens for lights, tv, maid service, etc.) plus I had a wonderful balcony with a million-dollar view. BUT I fell in love with my bathroom! I could do a cartwheel in it! Double marble sinks, separate “rooms” for the shower and toilet plus a huge, comfy marble bathtub and doors opening to my second balcony made it extra special.
I highly recommend Millesime Hotel (which is part of the Aubusson family of hotels). Tucked away on a quiet street in the heart of Saint Germain as well. The rooms are quite spacious and hands down have the best beds I have ever slept in a hotel! The real prize here is the Millesime Suite on the very top floor with its attic ceilings and lovely views from both sides. It is large, airy, and has plenty of storage space. An excellent choice for families of 3 or with two smaller children. Breakfast is also abundant and the front desk is super helpful (Damian is the best!).
I cannot stop singing the praises of Relais Christine (and I swear, it has nothing to do with the name). It’s not my first visit, and it won’t be my last. It’s not a new discovery, but a reconfirmation of a property I think is truly special. This is a true hidden gem on a small Paris street. It has a lovely courtyard and a staff who is available for your every need. The decor is elegant and rooms decorated with beautiful French fabrics. Breakfast is spectacular, the beds are a dream, and the hotel is so quiet. The Guerlain spa is also a wonderful place to continue your relaxation. You’ll need it, the vibrant Saint Germain neighborhood is right out your front door.
Hotel Rochechouart might be a bit tricky to pronounce for a non-French speaker but it’s a solid 4-star choice in an area known for nightlife and fun. The rooftop bar is a treat, the rooms are cozy but comfortable. Some higher floor rooms have a gorgeous view on the Sacré-Cœur. A new discovery in one of my favorite neighborhoods!
Semilla – I had first eaten here 6 years ago and it still stands out today as a wonderful meal. Heading back this time, just solidified my love for the local, trendy but consistently good dining establishment. It’s not fancy and the menu is basic (usually a choice of meat, fish, or vegetarian, but the food is made with care and certain simple elegance. There is a bar for two overlooking the kitchen which is a fun place to watch (and eat) the restaurants’ creations in progress.
Akira Back – I was invited to a dinner at the Prince de Galles Hotel having no idea what I was in for. While I love French food, this Asian Fusion gorgeous restaurant blew me away. The setting is a very dark art nouveau with some rather beautiful and clever accessories (glass octopus tentacles cascading down from the main chandelier!). The crowd runs from trendy to traditional businessmen. The food: out of the world. Whether it be the tuna pizza, slowly steamed cod, or sashimi tacos – it is all so far above the bar! I must point out Akira Back did work for my food hero, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, so it was bound to be good!
Michelin-starred Ze Kitchen Galerie was a special treat. The tasting menu (5 or 7 courses) displayed the talent and technique of chef William Ledeuil merged with eastern and asian flavors. The space is designed like a gallery, everything from the table settings to the art are designed to capture your eyes along with your taste buds. It’s a truly memorable meal with unique combinations and taste profiles done in an incredibly masterful way.
Vantre is one of my favorite discoveries this year. I’m a natural wine lover, so before I even left for Paris I had earmarked some special spots I needed to check out. The menu changes daily and the casual, convivial atmosphere surprises with truly gourmet dishes. Everything we ate was spectacular, the tuna tartare with fermented plum and fresh tomato was out of this world. With over 2000 bottles of wine to choose from, help from the sommelier was necessary and led to some special (and reasonably priced) discoveries.
Celebrating a special milestone birthday with gastronome friends couldn’t have been done better than at 114 Faubourg. On one of the most fashionable streets in the city, this Michelin-star is the place to lunch. Foie gras and pigeon breast wrapped in cabbage served with a decadent demi-glacé? This is amazing french cuisine with polished but incredibly friendly service to match. Wine recommendations were spot on, and it made a special birthday even more special.
Le Vin au Vert is a classic wine cave. The day I visited, there was no food but instead an incredible selection of wines by the glass in this wine shop and tasting room. A few tables scattered here and there between the boxes perhaps might send you in a different direction, but the selection of natural and small production boutique French wines is worth staying for a glass – or two.
Paris, always full of new discoveries
We hope you enjoyed some of our newest finds (and some old friends) in spectacular Paris. This is a city that Bella Vita knows well, and we cannot wait to show you what makes the City of Light so magical.
Contact us to start planning your tailor made vacation today!