Paris. Say the word and your mind muses on the notion of luxury. And we mean luxury in the true sense of the word: unique expertise painstakingly finessed over hundreds of years of study. Paris is home to the world’s finest food, haute couture, art - and of course, skincare. And what better way to experience the City of Light’s offerings than by treating yourself to a luxury massage in one of Paris’ ‘palace hotels’. We have put hours of research into bringing you only the finest establishments from a city that has more five-star hotels per square mile than any other, for our top luxury spa experiences.
Luxury doesn’t quite do the Mandarin justice, the word that springs to mind is ‘royal’. The world’s top therapists congregate here across seven private suites, some of which come with their own private steam room (and private pool) if the olympic sized pool can’t tempt you. The spa combines ancient eastern practices incorporating the ying, yang and ayurveda techniques with state-of-the-art technology, in one of Paris’ largest dedicated spaces, and every treatment starts with an in-depth consultation and body, mind and mood questionnaire so that the oil, technique, lighting and temperature are completely bespoke for your needs. Having personally tried the Oriental Essence Massage Experience here, you will be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend a half-day in Paris.
Institut Dior at Plaza Athénée
For a backdrop that looks like a movie set, you’ll want the Institut Dior at the storied Hotel Plaza Athénée, the very hotel that played host to Carrie Bradshaw in the finale of Sex and the City. This is the only ‘Institut Dior’ in the World, and of course it is housed here: the hotel and Dior have an intimate relationship. Dior opened his atelier on the same tree-lined boulevard in 1947, and showcased his inaugural collection at the hotel the very next year. Dubbed ‘the architect of design’, the Dior ethos is evident in all of the spa’s touches: from the silken cream-lined treatment rooms to the spa menu which took five years to curate; you can even choose which Dior scent you want your cabin to smell like. If we had money to burn we would take the Quintessence 10 Facial Treatment, developed especially for the spa’s 10 year anniversary, including a sapphire crystal face peel and thermal mask.
Hidden in the heart of Paris’ 1st arrondissement, in a quarter of the neighbourhood usually reserved for printing presses and dress factories, is this well-equipped gem. With intimate and plush spaces, the spa offers a full-length swimming pool, and very reasonably priced therapy options with excellent masseuses in-house. We opted for the deep tissue sports massage, providing excellent relief from a day spent sightseeing around the 1st’s iconic shopping spots and museums. Although there are larger (and more luxurious) posts in the neighbourhood, for value of money and quality of service, the Le Roch hits every mark.
The Le Meurice is hailed as one of the city’s finest luxury hotels, having the prestige of being the first recipient of Paris’ ‘palace-hotel’ title, and it’s location (a stone's throw away from the Louvre) confirms this fact. But Le Meurice also houses the only Swedish ‘Valmont’ Spa in Paris, home to the Swiss brand’s luxury skincare line. The clean and cool-toned interior by Charles Jouffre is pleasing on the eye, and the clinic-focussed spa menu is based on anti-aging and cellular cosmetology. Treatments are paired with fresh cold pressed juices, and the spa is known to adapt treatments for special occasions, bringing in Champagne and even Chef’s Pastries to celebrate you - so do tell them (and tell us) if you visit to mark a milestone.
La Prairie at Le Bristol
The sunlight-soaked space at Le Bristol Spa is also home to the high-end La Prairie suite of skincare products, as well as a delicate interior garden, and a Russian-style steam bath. The Le Bristol itself, located next door to Macron’s Elysée Palace, is an icon of old-world opulence, steeped in the ancient arts of hospitality, and has been voted by Conde Nast Traveller and The Telegraph as one of the finest luxury hotels in Paris. The spa is based on the concept of ‘Black Gold’ : rare and potent ingredients combined with the latest science to restore skin to it’s youthful beauty, including retinol caviar and metamorphic lipids. It also houses a breathtaking heated rooftop pool on the 6th floor: we would come here simply for the astonishing views.
Chanel at The Ritz
Coco Chanel once said: “Beauty treatments should start with the heart and soul” and that ethos runs through the glamorous Chanel Spa at The Ritz. Since 1898, The Ritz has occupied a scintillating location on the Plâce Vendôme, opposite Chanel’s original studio, and the iconic club spa is a complete homage to Coco Chanel herself, who semi-permanently took up residence in one of The Ritz’s upstairs suites. This is the only Chanel spa in the World, and Chanel created five unique oils for treatments which can only be found here. The ambience is otherworldly - at once exotic whilst remaining timeless: luscious and rare Chinese panelling adorn the walls whilst elegant black and beige furnishings accent the rooms: a true reflection of the Chanel aesthetic. The spa is also home to a Grecian-style walk-in swimming pool. If you can bag an appointment (the diary is often booked months in advance) ask for a signature wellness cocktail after your treatment from multi-award winning bartender Colin Field.
The spa at La Reserve Paris is mere moments from the modern thoroughfare of the Champs-Elysée, and yet transports you through the storied history of the French capital. The playful decor by Jacques Garcia harkens back to Versailles-era parquet complemented by Rococo pillaring, all housed in a splendid Haussmannian mansion building. The suitably high-end spa is headed up by Professor Jacques Proust, an expert in the field of anti-aging, and is powered by the Swiss cosmeceutical brand Nescens, alongside a spa menu that is pleasingly refined and focussed. It’s worth stopping by simply for the ravishing and royal surroundings, in a regal building originally built for the Duc de Morny, Napoleon III’s half brother.
CHI at The Shangri-La
According to ancient Tibetan scriptures, Shangri-La is one of the seven earthly heavens, and heavenly is the only word to describe this former residence of Prince Roland Bonaparte. The Prince was a botanist and served as President of the Societe de Geographie for 14 years, and the CHI spa at the Shangri-La immortalises him through the botanical treatments on offer and the skin care products created by The Organic Pharmacy. The oils used are pressed in small batches, and only made on-site in London. The spa is famed for its vast, column-lined pool, and the largest outdoor terrace in Paris, with a decor reflecting inspiration from Italy and the Orient. Treatments include rejuvenating natural ingredients like honey, rose petals, salt and sugar, and reviews from the Evening Standard call it ‘stunningly beautiful.’
Villeroy Spa By Buly 1803
This discrete treatment room in French Apothecary ‘Buly 1803’s’ offices off the Rue de Saintoge is the definition of a hidden gem. The therapies are spearheaded by husband and wife team Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami, and are centred around lymphatic drainage and ancient Eastern wisdom. The spa menu reflects this with unique offerings such as spinal alignment, and a Paris anti-pollution facial. Pick up some haloed gifts from the Perfumier afterwards, and get in quick before more people discover it: on a recent trip during Fashion Week, Vogue simply referred to its treatments as ‘magic’.
In the heart of the Haut Marais lies this Japanese massage house, designed as a ryokan (traditional inn). The name ‘suisen’ is a flower - like a narcissus, which radiates the meaning of taking care of oneself, and renewal. Expect bamboo ceilings, lamps made from washi (handmade paper) and classic sliding fusama doors: transporting you thousands of miles away from Paris to Tokyo. Treatments are rooted in traditional Japanese medicine, such as acupuncture, of which the founder's father was an expert, and are based on the five essential philosophies of harmony, tranquillity, purity, respect and happiness. Therapies are bespoke to an individual’s needs and vary with the season. Come here to exchange your grubby city clothing for delicate Japanese garments and steaming ceramic cups of green tea.