December came around very fast this year, which inevitably prompted the question ‘do we get a Christmas party?’ followed swiftly by a ‘but what shall we do?’. So it actually turns out that one of the more fun aspects of self-employment is being able to provide your own Christmas entertainment, so we thought; Paris is always a good idea. Right, Audrey?

Of course, like most things ‘Stories’, our imaginations ran wild. The Christmas party turned into a Christmas trip, and ten minutes later we were carefully selecting hotels based on the bed linen and branding, whilst pulling together a very ambitious and well researched itinerary in order to maximise our short stay. We wanted to share our recommendations for any of you guys that are considering a whistle-stop stay in the city of love.  

After a short stopover in London for a business meeting, we hopped onto the Eurostar and arrived in central Paris just two hours later, with 48 hours to get lost in the city. We took to the streets to explore the full-of-charm neighbourhood cafés and local watering holes…

Tucked away down a quintessentially Parisian alley, is a pre-French Revolution building containing the pure magic that is Hotel des Grands Boulevards.

“The idea, she says, was “to take the grandest elements from back in the day and make them more accessible and humble, but without falling into a Louis XVI cliché, to create a contemporary hotel inspired by the building’s historic roots.” The resulting public spaces are a compelling mix of interior and exterior, terracotta and vegetation, trellises, greenhouses, fountains and statues.”

– Dorothée Meilichzon

With it’s very own internal courtyard, there is an air of magic at the very heart of the hotel, you quite literally step away from the street and are transported into your very own 18th century Parisian world. From the corridors of the floors above, you can peer down through the glass into the internal patio which contains the hustle and bustle below.

The 50 plus hotel rooms are all oozing character – the main features being the charming canopied headboards, vintage bed linens, overhead beams, and tiled bathrooms. Not to mention the hotel room keys decorated with fringed leather tassels — The devil is in the details. 

Waking up to stunning views over the city, we began the day with an optional breakfast in bed delivery which is the best way to set yourself up for a day of exploring. 

Let’s talk about one of the most important areas of the hotel, which is, of course, Hotel des Grands Boulevards very own Cocktail bar, the Shell. The bar bodes an intimate interior, with plush velvet armchairs and a bar soaked in golden details. Pair those elements with their sophisticated mixology, and you’ve got everything you need to fuel your Parisian nights.

Located within a sleepy 15th district of Paris, Le Moulin de la Vierge is the perfect spot to sit and watch the world go by whilst sipping your coffee. The owners have successfully managed to maintain the typical Parisian décor, reminiscent of a 19th-century Parisian world, on such a beautiful corner.

This is hands down one of our favourite places we have visited to date. Hotel Costes oozes decadence, and rightly so. Designed by Jaques Garcia back in 1995, it is a luxurious space full of extravagant artwork, deep velvets, heavy carpeting and low-level lighting, making the atmosphere extremely intimate. 

Lavish floor to ceiling glass doors swing open and out onto a seated courtyard, meaning that the buzz of the diners can be felt throughout the entire ground floor. Not only is this hotel one of the most talked about in Paris for its interior, but the food equally matches its prestige.

Café de Flore, one of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris, and we can understand why it is so often frequented by visitors of the city. This is another quaint spot that consists of a perfect row of wicker-chairs to sit and escape the streets whilst sipping coffee (or mulled wine in a bid to warm up, as we did).

The Eiffel Tower is without a doubt one of the biggest attractions of the city, but with so many viewpoints, it can be hard to know which location is best. After all, the atmosphere can completely change between the daylight and the sparkling illuminations that come alive in the nighttime. We discovered breathtaking views from the panoramic terrace of Galleries Lafayette. If you are searing for skyline views then this is your spot.

Located within one of the most ancient neighbourhoods of Paris, featuring ceramic-tiled floors and retro vintage decor, Cafe St Regis offers pure Parisian vibes. Just a stones-throw from the river, you are offered another perfect picturesque location to sit and take the weight off after your stroll along the river (and an excuse to sample the vino, which would be rude not to).

We didn’t feel like we could leave Paris without paying a visit to one of the most famous and luxurious bakeries in the world; Ladurée. This was definitely one of the prettiest places we have visited and felt like we had stepped foot inside a life-size jewellery box. The detailing within the interior and desserts themselves was impressive – plus they tasted amazing, too.

A tip from us? Even if you’re only there for a short stay, explore by foot. Grab a coffee, take a stroll, breathe in the French air, see things along the way that were not on your list of things to do. One of our favourite coffee stops of the trip was actually a little shop that we stumbled upon whilst wandering the streets.

This was definitely a Christmas party, and a December, to remember. We are reflecting a lot on 2018 and the incredible experiences we have been able to have, and feeling truly excited about what 2019 will bring, and where we will be for our Christmas party this time next year.