Usually I leave Monaco with a heavy heart. As the plane zips down the runway I issue a heavy and exaggerated sigh; if there’s someone beside me I’ll strike up a conversation, tell them in painful detail about my summer and how sad I am to be going home. Throw in some gossip and scandalous anecdotes… and the flight home goes down as quickly as a tub of Ben & Jerries. There’s no better audience than a stranger, don’t you know.
However, this years victim received a markedly different account. Madame Duval was entertained with a lengthy narrative detailing my plans for Paris.
Then she asked me where I’d be staying. I told her. Her face changed. Her politely interested expression morphed into one of knowing pleasure and her eyes sort of lit up. She told me that it was in it’s restaurant that her “childhood sweet ‘art” proposed many years ago, where they started their honeymoon and where her own daughter got married.
The Four Seasons George V in Paris needs no introduction. It’s a heavyweight of hospitality, elegance and style. The Zagat Hotel Guide has listed it as Number One of all hotels in the world.
I touched down in the city of many clichés: love, great food and berets. But my mind was elsewhere. I was très très excited about my stay.
The Cinq was built in 1928 and is a nestled on Avenue George V just a stone's throw from The Champs-Élysées. It's historical yet understated opulence meant it quickly became a home away from home for rockstars and royalty: starlets and presidents: the great and the infamous.
We walked across the marble reception, filled with the sweet lingering scent of the snowy hydrangeas arranged by the creative director for flowers, Jeff Leatham. Despite the grandeur of the property you never feel stifled and most of the guests were in fact 'off duty'; wandering out of the door into the Parisian afternoon wearing trainers and t-shirts.
Of course, the staff at the reception desk were expecting us and we were ushered through polished corridors of wood, priceless orginal oils and 17th century tapestries: up to our room on the 7th floor.
We were staying in a Premier room with a private outdoor terrace, sun loungers and dizzying view of the courtyard below. The huge space was appointed in beautiful mint greens, creams and soft violets. Two chocolate opera cakes welcomed us with a sugary caress and fresh flowers by the bed made it feel like home.
I had the perfect mid afternoon nap, whilst mother headed to the spa. Four Seasons beds are unmatched for comfort and there's nothing quite like falling into a soft snowy mountain of Egyptian cotton after the day's exertions.
My alarm went around 4pm, so I thought I'd have breakfast on the terrace. I ordered a warm goats cheese salad, some green tea and a generous portion of petite fours. The food arrived at lightening speed, the table was set; I plugged my ipod into the speakers and ate to the romantic Gallic whisper of Carla Bruni and rough bluesy tune of George Brassens. The food was as perfect as the atmosphere, which was as perfect as the view from my perch.
I was rather enjoying my self indulgent afternoon and so on went the cozzie and down to the spa I trundled. Of course, they had thought of everything. I sat in the serene reception area flicking through Vogue. The allure of the snack station was overpowering and I soon had a plate of goodies (dates, pecans, fresh fruit) to add to the day's deliciousness. The receptionist took me through the treatment list and we decided on one which I booked for the next day. I then jumped in the pool... bobbed in the jacuzzi... steamed in the sauna.. and fell asleep (again) on a chaise longue in the relaxation area.
I woke up. I was beginning to see a pattern. This was followed by even more food and music.
Fast forward a few days and I am getting increasingly agitated about the prospect of going home. Mother has commented on how well I'm looking and in all honesty, she ain't looking half bad herself. We decide between ourselves to make this a yearly 'mother-daughter' tradition.
Every aspect of the stay was faultless. Staying at The George Cinq is being cocooned in the flawless pristine crepe of wonderful food, impeccable service and relentless beauty. No request was too big or too small. I wanted strawberry juice for breakfast. I got strawberry juice for breakfast. Tickets to a show? No problem. Three hypoallergenic pillows? Yes mam (or rather Mademoiselle). They do everything that other Parisian hotels do, but they do it better.
Another thing that sets The Cinq apart is that despite the opulent surroundings, it's a hotel without airs or graces: welcoming like a home, no hushed whispers and genuine concern for every guest.
It's time to go home. I am distraught. I walk out the door and feel like I'm waving goodbye to a lover. "It's only for a little while" I tell myself. Adieu and farewell, till we meet again.