A Tale of Two Hotel Openings : Partied or Pampered
Last September, yes I know, nearly a year ago (I’m a bad blogger) in 2013, I was invited to the hotel opening for the new Sofitel Arc de Triomphe in the 8th district of Paris. And this past June I went to a press presentation of the newly renovated Mercure Montmartre in the 18th.
I thought it would be interesting to compare the two hotel openings and how they went about promoting their hotel.
What’s funny about the Sofitel opening is, I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal, just a visit of some rooms and maybe a glass of champagne. Boy was I wrong! I arrived to a swinging party stuffed full of Paris socialites and celebrities. About 800 people were invited to this party. Press people and fashion people. It was aparantly THE event to be at in September 2013.
So when I headed over to the Mercure Montmartre opening in June 2014, I was expecting a party. There was no party. It was a press presentation, and a very organized one at that! We were assigned a group with a few “guides” who brought us through a tour of the hotel, explaining the services and ideas behind the new design and decoration. I have to say, it was rather tedious, especially in the beginning, and we were not offered any refreshment of any sort before or during the tour.
The Sofitel party, did have some hostesses that would welcome us with sparking smiles to come visit one of the Andrée Putman designed rooms, to allow us to take pictures and inform ourselves of the concept behind their new services. Their idea is to have a hotel that feels like home, which offers any service you may need in order to feel like you are in your own habitat. Nice. Me and other bloggers, members of the press and guests, snapped photos and ogled the Hermès bath products, caressed the lovely fabrics used in the décor and imagined jumping on the bed. (Well, I imagined jumping on the bed, not sure about the others).
Mercure Montmartre, showed us three different categories of rooms standard to a room with a view, and an quick explanation of the decor, (nice but nothing incredible, I did like the textured walls and the cozy color schemes). And then brought us to an area in the hallway set up for a wine
tasting smelling game test, that I failed miserably at, in which we were to describe the types of scents we could guess from four or five different wines. It was frustrating not to taste it.
At the Sofitel opening, in the white rose decorated ground floor everywhere you looked there were tables laden with savory delicacies, chefs slicing insanely expensive Italian ham and handing it to us like it was going out of style tomorrow. There were trays upon trays of sweet petit fours, mini cakes and crumpets, champagne flowing like the Seine river, and people packed back to back. I heard that Chantal Thomass and Christian Louboutin were in the house. Determined to find them and snag a snapshot with each, I sought them out in that hot and happy crowd until I did. I even kissed Mr Louboutin on the cheek! Sadly the person using my phone to take pictures could understand how to make the camera focus, so most of the shots are blurry.
Back to the Mercure Montmartre opening, we finished our tour on the terrace that is just beyond the breakfast area and bar. It’s a nice terrace, but sadly has no view, except for the pompier station across the street. And then we got stuck on that terrace listening to these unending speeches for the hotel director, and the Mercure director, and the director of boredom and the assistant director of boredom… I was bored. And starving! Finally just as I couldn’t take any more, food was brought out. But I had lost all desire to stay. I thanked the hostess and took my leave politely. Upon saying goodbye, she did hand me a gift bag (a heavy one) that contained a wine conserver tool and a very thick wine guide book from Bettane & Desseuve.
Flashback to the Sofitel again, where I wandered farther back into the soirée to find a rock concert just for the occasion. I was floored by the expense at which they must have gone to to celebrate the opening of their new hotel, although it’s a drop in the bucket for a hotel fortune like Sofitel. But I was so thrilling and exciting to mix and mingle with the Parisian elite, although I don’t know half their names or faces. After I had had my fill of party food, champagne and snapshots, I figured I should head home to Chéri (to who I had said that I would go to this event for probably less than an hour…. um, two and a half hours later….). It was fun! It was exciting. But I didn’t really see the need for me to post about it, since they had all the press they needed from all the smoozy journalists they had invited. So you see, even though it was a fantastic event, I didn’t feel my input was necessarily expected. And now almost a year later, I am finally getting around to it, in a very unconventional hotel article. (But, hey, I didn’t start this blog nearly five years ago to be conventional). I loved the hotel, I loved the concept, the cozy coocooning atmosphere of the rooms, and the swanky fête they threw. It’s a great place to stay in Paris for those with the budget.
As for Mercure Montmartre, they totally redeemed themselves after the evening of ennuie, by having a bottle of wine hand delivered to my home : Saint Emillion, thank you very much! (They wanted to emphasize the fact that they are a wine hotel) and then inviting me to the rooftop terrace of another hotel owned by the same group, for a comfortable spot and a fantastic view of the Bastille Day fireworks. What Mercure Montmartre lacks in party panache, they well make up for in services and going the extra mile. Their whole idea is to make your experience at the hotel seem seamless and smooth from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. They have done away with the idea of standing in line to check in, and have created a space that offers fluidity and comfort everywhere. And so, even if I was a bit bored by all those speeches, and the unrefreshed hotel tour, I would certainly stay in a place that is so dedicated to service. I like service. And least I forget to mention that the people who work there have something that is a complete rarity in Paris which I absolutely love : service with a smile. The hosts were positive and upbeat every moment they were with us, and I give them a lot of credit because I am sure it wasn’t easy.
Hotel Mercure Montmartre : 3 Rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris
4 star hotel with rooms starting around 125€ per night.
Sofitel Arc de Triomphe : 14, rue Beaujon 75008 Paris
5 star hotel with rooms starting from around 370€