TOUR, dine or shop, when in Paris, the immersion starts the moment you step foot on its grounds, even if you’re unaware of it. It’s a city rich in history and its architecture, very well preserved.
How much of Paris’ distinctive look at the city center at present can be credited to Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine who was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III to renovate Paris. Through this man’s vast public works program, a better, brighter and airy Parisian central emerged, the neighborhoods were unified via the creation of boulevards, and the fashioning of new parks and squares beautified the city.
One of the areas Haussmann developed was the Opera District in the 9th arrondissement. Here, he imprinted his very distinct touch on the architectural feature of the buildings that line the boulevards—a façade treatment that unified independent buildings into one. The architectural treatment flowed from one structure to the next in a horizontal line in which balconies and cornices are perfectly aligned. In doing so, no building was treated independently but made part of a unified urban landscape.
Ensconced in one of the Haussmann-era buildings along Rue La Fayette in this prestigious district of Paris is the Hotel Excelsior-Opera. It came highly recommended by Agoda, an award-winning Online Travel Agency, when I requested for a hotel that’s ideally situated in Paris—accessible on foot to the city’s attractions, near the Metro, and a good area to dine and of course, shop. In terms of location and amenities, the 52-room Hotel Excelsior-Opera embraces all the features that I, or any traveler, would wish for in a hotel.
The Hotel Excelsior-Opera lobby is warm and welcoming, bathed in bright and soft hues of white and brown, and sprinkled with a few touches of Japanese aesthetics that includes a tatami wall-covered elevator. The look extends to the small yet well-stocked lobby bar, a relaxing nook to hangout for a cappuccino or a sip of your favorite red.
On the second floor is where you get to meet your fellow residents at the start of the day. The modestly sized breakfast room is a cozy place to enjoy brewed coffee and croissants (along with the other breakfast fare) while watching the avenue below pop to life and get a glimpse of a piece of a “grand” Paris attraction, the Opera Garnier, through the windows that surround the room. These same sights extend to the upper levels of the hotel where the living apartments are.
I was given a room on the fifth floor, the topmost level of the building. Sweet. The ochre-colored room, with a large, glass-paneled French door that streams in natural lighting into the spacious, wall-papered interior and opens up to a balcony with an intricately designed iron grillwork, offered a commanding panorama of the Haussmann-designed avenue, from the rooftops down to the busy street below, and its neighboring structures.
Who are the neighbors, you ask? Aside from the Opera Garnier and good restaurants that’s a few steps from the hotel, a few steps more will take you to everyone’s (well, almost) favorite spots in the city—the Galeries Lafayette and the Printemps department stores (there’s H&M next to the hotel, too), and if you venture a little farther, you might just find yourself in amazing addresses you’ll be surprised you can reach on foot like the Moulin Rouge or even the Louvre.
But if you prefer to skip the walking, the Metro Chaussée d'Antin-La Fayette stop is just around the corner and it will take you to your preferred spots in the French capital.
Let me share this experience. After hours of exploring the city, I always looked forward to “coming home” to the hotel, take a long warm bath in their pristine white bathroom, wind down and enjoy a cup of tea by the balcony while admiring the City of Lights glow against the star-filled, deep-blue night sky, and run the next day’s adventure plan through my head.
Maybe what made my stay at the Hotel Excelsior-Opera quite memorable was the hospitality the staff extended, it was warm, attentive, and always highlighted by a beaming smile.
Perhaps on your next visit to Paris, try “Haussmann living” on the 9th at the Hotel Excelsior-Opera. It can easily become your favorite address in the City of Lights.
Hotel Excelsior-Opera is at 5 Rue La Fayette 75009 Paris, France. Visit their website at www.excelsior-opera.com.
Hotel Excelsior-Opera is an Agoda partner hotel. For bookings and great deals on this hotel, visit http://www.agoda.com/excelsior-opera-hotel/hotel/paris-fr.html
For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/