You walk into the lobby of the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center and say, â€śWow!â€ť The space is gleaming white and immense with brilliant red accents and colored lights, and gives the impression more of a resort than a hotel in town. Pillars rise to the multi-story ceiling, balconies overlook the space: it could be a museum of modern art. You are immersed in an environment that Marriott has dubbed, â€śbusiness chic.â€ť
â€śBusiness chicâ€ť is very definitely about making a statement. The entry, the lounge and restaurant areas, everything fits into an overall high-concept design. Music plays to infuse the atmosphere with a lively ambiance. All this is brand new, a full-scale refurbishment that started when Marriott acquired the hotel.
Marriott took over the hotel in 2006 and launched into a full renovation and redesign that lasted almost a year. For the project, they brought in Mackenzie Wheeler, an international design firm based in London. They chose to go for the 70â€™s look that is so popular right now, a decision that works especially well in a hotel that was built in 1972. A few areas are still getting their finishing touches, such as parts of the health center, but all should be set and sparkling by spring.
The design is impressive and it feels grand to be part of it. The 70â€™s retro is actually highly successful because there is a sense of play in the shapes and textures of its designs with the ironic distance of 30-some years, so the â€śmodâ€ť is both silly and an inspirational reminder of an era of grand dreams of modernity and the prosperity it was bound to bring.
The staff is both eager and smiling in its welcome; everyone wanted to help me so much. The young man who checked me in at the registration desk made me an extra key and was almost disappointed when I told him I wouldnâ€™t need it. So I took it and thanked him, and he beamed.
On the level of business, being the largest Marriott hotel conference center in Europe, the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche has a full professional support staff for groups and conferences that come in. Another aspect of the â€śbusiness chicâ€ť is making the lines between business and recreation seamless. Often business travelers mix business and pleasure when they relax and socialize. Marriott has come up with something called the â€śGreat Roomâ€ť concept and the Rive Gauche is the first hotel to have it fully realized in its restaurant/bar Râ€™Yves.
Râ€™Yves opens from the lobby and almost merges with it. Couches give way to chair and table groupings, including the very playful, very retro globe chairs just up the steps and off to one side. The room is arranged in zones, spaces that each have their own feel but flow into one another instead of being closed off: nooks that feel like a living room, comfortable chairs around low tables to sit and share a snack or drink, a cognac bar, an all-day restaurant. In one area, long banquette tables at bar height with tall chairs include data and power plugs so that you can hook your portable up and work or surf as you have a drink or a bite. Indirect colored lighting around the bar and lining the room shifts color every now and then and keeps the room alive with a subtle ever-changing atmosphere.
Râ€™Yves covers two floors, with downstairs being more casual in style, but dramatic in flair and featuring contemporary French and UK music. The business center is tucked at the back and is staffed with a very helpful and knowledgeable support employee. I needed a bit of printing and there was a glitch in my files which the staffer resolved, staying past closing to get it done for me.
Upstairs is more for casual dining with comfortable booths and tables and light, natural color tones. The restaurant offers brasserie-style food on an all-day menu. Mornings, this is where the buffet breakfast is served.
The breakfast buffet is ample, with all the trimmings you would expect. There is also an omelet chef who will prepare your eggs to order, something very unusual for a weekday buffet. Most places only offer chafing dishes filled with scrambled eggs that are way too â€śweepyâ€ť for me. Getting an omelet hot off the grill cooked just the way the I like it was a real treat.
The rooms at the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche were a good size for Paris hotel rooms. The bright white base color is everywhere accented with brilliant saturated reds and yellows, bringing the space vibrantly alive and giving everything a crisp, fresh feel. As you settle in, as if you were the first person to stay in the room. (The hotel employs a full-time painter whose only job is to touchup the scrapes and smudges that mar the white surfaces around the hotel.)
The hotel has 18 floors with over 700 rooms and 50 suites. Height means view, and while for many Paris travelers, the only view is the building across the street or courtyard, at the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche you have a view over the rooftops that will please the romantic in your soul.
The rooms have all the amenities an American traveler wants. Technology-wise, there is high-speed internet and an enormous 32-inch flat screen TV. Still to come are connectivity panels that will enable you to hook all your gadgets through the television and high-end sound system. You will be able to work on your computer via the HDTV screen, play games, and listen to your iPod.
The Rive Gauche offers an unusual bedding package for business travelers who are tired of always sleeping on plain white sheets. If you want, you can order black bedding as a change. That is something that I have never seen anywhere.
Most hotels that cater to a large proportion of business clientele have an executive lounge, but the Elite Lounge in the Rive Gauche is one of the best I have stayed in. The design is striking and lively. I actually spent some free time hanging out there reading, it was so open and airy and comfortable. Computer terminals in the lounge are available for free use, so that you can check email and keep abreast of your business. Breakfast is served in the lounge, an excellent light lunch is laid out buffet style, and snacks and beverages are available all day.
I must confess to a sweet tooth and in the lounge, there are jars and jars stocked with sweet noshes. There were two jars of cookies that were replenished regularly, jars of candies and chips. I am a sucker for gummy bears and I tried to make a dent in the gummy bears, but somehow the jar never got empty.
After all the gummy bears, it is a good thing that the Rive Gauche has an impressive fitness center which you can access with your room key. Not only do they have all the latest workout equipment, but they are in the process of finishing a large exercise room. For those of us who prefer yoga to spinning, a space to stretch is a tremendous plus.
I was originally scheduled to spend four days at the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche, but my schedule took me away after two. As I was leaving, I wished I could have stayed for all four days. The look and feel of the establishment as a while and the helpfulness of the staff make it a great place to stay in Paris.
Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center
17, boulevard St. Jacques
Paris, 75014 France
Phone: 33 1 4078 7980