I had been working 80-90 hours a week, and spending about 30% of my time travelling internationally for it. While that might sound glamourous, it wasn’t – it was beyond exhausting and stressful. So what I really needed was not just a break but a quiet refuge where I know I could be looked after. A bit of pampering if you will.
After spending a week working round the clock in London, I decided to spend the next week in Paris for my birthday and booked an Airbnb. I had spent a lot of time staying in Airbnb’s because that was part of my job but frankly had had more bad experiences than good. I was hopeful that Paris would be different.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
After waiting over an hour in the cold for the late host to come to let me in, I was met with a smell of vinegar that was used to try to cover smoke smell. The flat was dingy – good enough for the 21 year old guy renting it but not great for someone twice his age who was used to clean sheets. I was cold, I was tired, I was frustrated and disappointed. This is not how I wanted to spend my birthday or my short time in Paris. So I did the only logical thing.
I booked a small, quiet, luxury boutique hotel: The Lancaster.
Situated in the beautiful 8th arrondissement, this 5-star, 56 room hotel was such a perfect find. When I checked in I was greeted by the most charming, welcoming and friendly staff. There was no pretense just sincerity – something that lacked from my “local” experience with Airbnb. Since my room wasn’t ready, I went and sat in their lounge and had a quiet tea and luxurious breakfast. Lingering over a cup of tea in this space instantly had be relaxed as did the service that was present but not intrusive. They were especially kind in helping me through a few food allergy questions and preparing something especially for me even though they had a buffet on that morning.
Once fed, it was time to head out into the rain and cold. Luckily, the hotel’s location is great so walking to anything in any type of weather isn’t long.
When I checked into my room, I was instantly put at ease from the soft colours, to the minimal yet cosy decor that is just so French, to a bed that I swear cured my insomnia for the 3 nights I was there. It was the perfect place to retreat to each night.
On my last night, I asked the concierge for a recommendation on where to eat and was happy to have been recommended a non-touristy and very local restaurants. And that’s where I feel this hotel excelled – it’s staff. Some say hotels can be really impersonal and you can’t “live like a local” if you stay in them. But at Hotel Lancaster, I felt like I was home in Paris and the staff were new friends guiding me to their favourite spots. They hey helped transform a negative trip into one of my favourites.