Today we have the good fortune to introduce our newest Contributing Editor to Parisian Gentleman, Paul Lux.
As you may know, a few years ago Paul wrote a guest piece for PG on Sartoria Ripense, which has become one of our most read articles to date. Paul has acquired, despite his young age, a sartorial genius through his many travels and experiences in life, which he reports on in his growing popular blog Sartorial Inspirations.
He is relentless when it comes to learning about and expressing true style. But he has another passion : hotels for the elegant gentlemen.
The idea of this series is to provide some travel insights that can be useful to gentlemen around the world who are more and more concerned with fine accommodations.
We’ve decided to entitle this brand new series of features “Suites and Suits”.
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WHERE TO STAY IN LONDON AND SARTORIAL TIDBITS
By Paul Lux
I am a man of many passions.
Some say it’s impossible to reach perfection in an area of life if your attention is split between so many different interests as mine is…but this is how I am. However, there are two particular subjects that I especially like to write about: elegant menswear and luxury hotels, or as I like to call them, Suites and Suits.
Someone once asked me to name the key aspects to look for when finding a good hotel. In answering the question, the immediate thoughts that came to me as deal makers or breakers included:
(1) a very comfortable bed,
(2) extraordinary service, and
(3) a place that feels like home (or better than home–yes it is possible).
A list on what makes a great hotel could be never-ending, but these are the three main things that kept circulating in my head.
As for that other universe called ‘ menswear ‘, the criteria list for a good suit can differ according to whom you talk to, although I can show you what my personal list looks like:
(1) Nice construction/ cut
(2) Fine Fabric
Still, this list is a terrible shortcut.
The feel of the fit of the suit on my body (if that makes any sense) and the emotion that is created when wearing the suit is what ends up counting the most to me. For example, I’ve been asked why I considered Camps de Luca to be one of the greatest tailors on earth. Put simply, I feel powerful when I put on a Camps suit. How can this be? I have no clue as to why, but it is simply the case. But let us not get carried away. We are not here to overplay the nuances of menswear and travels, but rather to relay some useful working information.
Traveling is one of life’s greatest gifts. One gets to see the world, discover new cultures, meet new people and live in a whole new place, if only for a short time.
I have several friends who tell me all about the joy of backpacking and how adventurous it is. While I totally respect their hobby, this way of traveling is simply not for me. I want a place that feels as comfortable, or more comfortable than home–and room service on speed dial makes me feel even better. And the better the overall service, the happier I get.
While growing up, my father was kind enough to bring me along to visit countries that I normally would never have set foot in such as Indonesia, Thailand, Canada, and the French Caribbean, amongst several others.
For this first piece, we’ll not travel far from my home country, as we will be heading north of France and across the pond to the city of London.
London is my second home. I’ve probably travelled there at least 50 times and cannot fathom visiting London less than twice or three times a year. I simply love the atmosphere, the cosmopolitan crowd, the parks and architecture, the Brits themselves, the theatre scene, the Royal Albert Hall, Harrod’s, Savile Row, Cecconi’s (which happens to be one of my all time favourite Italian restaurants and a mere 5 meters away from Anderson & Sheppard), the shopping arcades and certainly just as importantly…the hotels.
London has a great number of fabulous luxury properties in very different styles. For those who fancy classic style, head to:
* The Claridge’s
* The Lanesborough (currently under renovation)
* The Berkeley
* The Ritz
* The Landmark
* The Langham, or
* The Mandarin Oriental.
If modernity is your cup of tea, opt for:
* The Connaught
* The Halkin
* The Bulgari
* The Rosewood
* The Soho
* The Hotel 41
* The Milestone hotel or,
* The Four Seasons Park Lane.
This is by all means not an exhaustive list. London has a lot to offer and I don’t intend to write a complete travel guide (at least not for now).
I’d like to focus today on one property in particular that has been in operation for only a few years now, but that has definitely blown my mind: The Four Seasons Park Lane.
THE FOUR SEASONS PARK LANE
While I do believe that pictures are often worth more than a thousand words (though they can also be potentially misleading), I will try to sum up why I believe this is an amazing property where a gentleman, especially if well accompanied by his lovely other-half, will fall in love with the place almost instantly.
From the moment you arrive at the entrance door, it feels as if you’ve made the right choice. The doorman is already smiling and is quite good at spotting returning guests – who doesn’t like a “Welcome back, Sir” ?
Inside the lobby you notice dark marble flooring with deep colours and quite a bit of red. The lounge area is just perfect with couches that look incredibly comfortable and believe me, they are. When you take a seat in front of the fireplace in winter, it’s easy to enjoy a good book and a hot afternoon tea with Caviar (which is more affordable than you may expect). You’ll feel like you want to stay there until life leaves you.
The bar is dimly lit, with plush lounge chairs and couches including a beautiful selection of all the liquors that are likely to make your head spin tonight. The service is prompt and smiling but discreet. That is how it should be. Compared to some other London luxury hotels, the prices at the bar and the restaurant are quite reasonable.
At the check-in desk, all the luggage is in the good hands of the bellman and no one has come to harass me as I walk around trying to discover whether I like the common areas before entering my own suite.
Check-in is a breeze, quick and efficient. Next, we’re heading to the room with a lovely reception clerk, smartly dressed in a black dress and heels. The hallways upstairs are lined with huge black and white photographs from the 1950s and the furniture is made of rich, dark walnut. The lovely reception clerk shows me around the room but understands quickly enough that this is my time, and I don’t really need nor do I want a tour guide.
Welcome to the Westminster Suite.
At approximately 65m² (700 sq. ft.) with a separate living room, a mix of beige walls and dark walnut furniture, the room has everything one could hope for: LCD TVs, MP3 connection, Blu-ray player, a 1.5 bathroom (i.e. bath and shower).
So this is my new home for the weekend. One would not think that it is possible for a mattress to be uncomfortable in a 5-star hotel but I can tell from experience that they most definitely can be uncomfortable. I’ve had this bitter experience with a 5-star in the past.
Fortunately, this is not the case at the Four Seasons Park Lane.
Once you lie down, you will start to feel the mattress adapting to your body and you will not want to move for a while. It’s a heavenly experience, and any distracting thoughts you might have had will begin to fade fast. After enjoying an abundance of bathroom amenities and taking a good shower with heavy water pressure (which is especially nice in contrast to the opposite experience of water dribbling out of the shower head), I’m off to a good night of much needed sleep.
Morning comes and my room is quieter than I could have hoped for, even though we are only a few steps away from busy Park Lane. After enjoying a serene morning, I put on some off-white flannel trousers made by Sartoria Ripense – it’s winter after all, – a vintage lilac cashmere turtleneck by Charvet that I inherited (that is actually made by Ballantyne), my Anderson & Sheppard navy sport coat in a 330gr heavy wool by W. Bill, and a pair of brown boots by Carmina.
The Four Season’s week-end breakfast takes the form of a brunch and it’s not possible to wish for anything that isn’t already on the menu : waffles, banana pancakes, scrambled eggs with bacon or smoked salmon, pastries and so on. The food is exquisite even if the pastries may have been slightly too dry for my taste. But hey, I’m French and horribly difficult when it comes to pastries (the same goes for macaroons–thank you Ladurée and Pierre Hermé)!
The service is prompt and attentive and nothing more could be expected from the hotel staff.
Time to enjoy the perfect location by having a walk from the hotel to Harrod’s through Hyde Park. The wind is blowing and the temperature is around 5°C, and so I opt for a camel coat made by Sartoria Ripense and my Grandfather’s Hermès cashmere scarf that still looks quite new, even though it’s actually 40 years old. I love Hyde Park, the small lake, the ducks, the squirrels and the beautiful buildings surrounding it.
And now … Harrod’s is waiting for me.
Hotel: Four Seasons Park Lane, rooms starting at 500 GBP per night, with Suites starting at 1200 GBP per night.
When to go: Anytime is perfect though my favourite time to visit is in December, which may be the most magical period to stay in London, given the exquisite taste of the British when it comes to decorating for Christmas.
Stopping by Harrod’s at this time of year is a must. Avoid December if you have issues with crowds though, as it can feel like you are in Tokyo instead of London during this time of year. And if it happens to snow, then you will feel like you’re in a place that is made for fairytales. June happens to be my favourite Spring/Summer period to visit as it normally doesn’t rain that much. The temperature varies between 20 C and 25 C and provides the perfect opportunity to take a stroll in one of London’s numerous parks.
In case your mind drifts towards seeing leggy Brit women in summer…women wearing ultra-short skirts and dresses can be seen year round regardless of the weather as Brit women seem to have little regard to how temperature relates to women’s wear.
What to wear: A sport coat in flannel, cashmere or wool in the winter or silk and linen in the summer, tassel loafers, cashmere turtlenecks, a nice dinner jacket while having a drink at the bar at midnight before heading to the casino Les Ambassadeurs which is just in front of the hotel.
•Try the afternoon tea.
•Book a spa treatment on the top floor…the view on Hyde Park is exquisite.
Did I mention the fact that the Rolls Royce service is complimentary within two miles of the hotel at any given time? Forgot something at Henry Poole? Do jump in the Rolls…
Paul Lux : http://paul-lux.tumblr.com