Before even walking through the revolving doors of the Saint James Albany you are impressed.
A facade of five sandstone arches, each carved in true period fashion and corresponding French doors perched above – if this doesn’t make you feel a bit fancy, the four flags hanging above the hotels doors sure will.
Inside, things follow suit. The tiled floors and dark walls act as a contrast to the period courtyard, which features manicured gardens and white, filigree outdoor seating. They call this courtyard the Andalusian patio. To top it off, the water served at the concierge is both ice cold and infused to perfection.
202 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France.
We booked the superior room, the cheapest on the website. It was smaller than it appeared online, but just as artfully decorated, with a window looking across the road to a beautiful frontage of Parisian buildings.
The large old windows, opening inwards, reveal a decorative railing allowing you to have yours open to the sounds of Paris.
The room has everything one could need: tea, coffee, high-speed internet, a television, a large bathroom and a very comfortable bed, right in the centre of Paris.
Checkout is midday, but it is best to be up and out of the room by then anyway – or you’ll miss the buffet breakfast.
Food and drink
Paris is not only the city of love and lights, but also the home of the lavish croissant – best consumed at the Saint James Albany buffet breakfast.
Along with an array of other delicacies and pastries are your more traditional buffet foods: eggs, bacon, local sausage, toast and cereals.
Not only are the breakfast foods delicious, but they are also presented divinely. Bread sits perched on what look like pewter trays and pastries are placed delicately in a pile, decorated with splayed strawberries.
The 202 Rivoli, the restaurant open for lunch on the ground floor of the Saint James Albany rivals the breakfast, featuring cheese boards, beef bourguignon, smoked salmon pancake and pistachio and raspberry mousse on the menu.
If the saying goes that you are what you eat, then you will be completely delicious after eating here.
Perhaps the best part of our stay was the spa and pool facilities. In a dark and subterranean-feeling room sits an illuminated pool at the perfect temperature for swimming. Not far from the pool, down a small corridor, is a spa room with magazines, cold water (again, infused) and some chocolate snacks. Sadly, no cocktails were found here, but it would have been divine.
The spa was the perfect excuse for walking around the hotel in the white robes and matching slippers, something usually only done in movies.
I lied. While the spa was amazing, the location was even better. Only a stone’s throw away from both the Concorde and Tuileries metro lines, the hotel is so easy not only to find but also to tour the city from.
Not that you really need to use public transport. The Saint James Albany is within walking distance of the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Place de la Concorde and the Musée d’Orsay, and is directly opposite the Tuileries Gardens. Surrounding the hotel is also a variety of museums, restaurants and shops.
You could also walk to the Eiffel Tower if you’re game and wear good shoes. The stroll takes about 40 minutes, with plenty to do along the way – if Parisian style, architecture and food is your thing, of course.
The IT verdict
The Saint James Albany is a combination of cosy and opulent that a hotel in the centre of Paris should be.
Location! Location! Location! Central (albeit quite touristy) and within walking distance to most of the famous Parisian attractions.
Renaissance exterior and interior meets the best of modern furnishings. I would have preferred a few more winged armchairs with paisley lining, but appreciated the décor.
Excellent check in, cleaning and wait staff, although the concierge couldn’t help but sigh when I lost my access card for the second time.
Not exactly as pictured, but definitely more than good enough. The rooms were comfortable without being overstated; best described as cosy.
Food and drink: 9/10
Incredible variety and quality; true Parisian food.
Value for money: 7/10
At just under $405 per night, the cosy room seems expensive. Spa and pool access was included in the price, but the buffet breakfast set us back another $27 per person. You are essentially paying to stay in the best location in Paris, and to be honest, I’m not mad about it.
Close to two metro stations, Concorde and Tuileries, you can walk out of the doors and to your next destination. Getting from Charles de Gaulle to the Saint James Albany is as easy as a train from the airport to Châtelet, where you change to Line 1 for Tuileries and walk straight to the hotel.