New Years in Paris: Air France Business, British Airways First, and the Park Hyatt Vendome: A Wonderful Place to Stay in Paris on Points

A trip report in five parts

  1. Air France A380 Business Class, Washington Dulles – Paris
  2. Park Hyatt Vendome
  3. Mostly Eating in Paris
  4. British Airways Paris Orly – London and the Concorde Room
  5. British Airways “New” First Class, London – Washington Dulles

By the time I made it to the hotel from the airport it was a little bit after noon. There weren’t rooms ready, which is reasonable, and they offered of course to store bags and ring me on my mobile when they could accommodate.

But then the woman assisting with our checkin said she thought they could have something ready fairly quickly, offered us complimentary coffees and to be seated while they checked into things.

We sat down and ordered cappuccinos, and just as it was arriving she came back over, let us know that our room was ready, and took us upstairs She then asked the staff to deliver the coffees to our room — and they did, albeit new fresh coffees in different cups. It was a wonderful, personal welcome. And they were apologetic throughout over not having a room ready when we arrived nearly three hours before check-in time.

I immediately thought the stay was off to a great start!

We went up in the elevator to the first floor (one floor above the lobby). Ok, I might have preferred a higher floor. But actually there was never any noise from the street at all, and looking out the window felt more connected to the city. So I wasn’t displeased at all.

I used points for the stay, 22,000 points per night. I initially booked a standard room and then reconsidered (after a bit of chastisement from Lucky), deciding that a suite was well worth the extra 12,000 points a night. Unfortunately there was never a suite available, and ultimately the hotel itself sold out during our stay.

And in fact after the stay when I emailed a request for a folio, they initially sent me the one for internal reimbursement from Hyatt. The first night Gold Passport was charged about 350 euros but each of the three subsequent nights the charge to Gold Passport was 800 euros. That’s redemption valueHyatt was paying over US$1000 a night for my award room.

So a room on the first floor, before official checkin time? I had no complaints, none at all.

My initial reaction to the room, though. It was small. A bed, a desk with chair, and another chair in the bedroom.

There was actually a large, walk-in closet and luggage storage area.

And the bathroom was probably three-quarters the size of the bedroom! In total, the room was a fairly decent size and the space was well-utilized.

The bath amenities were Blaise Mautin, and they were always refilled — with each service, twice daily — except for the body lotion which inexplicably was never replaced. The bottle lasted throughout the stay but it was nearly empty at the end, and for whatever reason a second bottle was not forthcoming (I didn’t request this, but it did seem strange).

It was great to be in the room after an overnight flight, even one where I did get a bit of sleep. DC-Paris is too short a flight, even when you’re sleeping reasonably well, to actually get rested.

My usual routine on arrival in Europe, when my schedule allows, is to give myself a nap in the afternoon. I’ll set the alarm or request a wakeup call, so that I get up and go out to dinner. A nice long dinner, fueled by the nap, and I go to bed at the ‘normal’ time for wherever I am. After one night’s sleep in Europe I’m on local time.

So I took pushed the electronic privacy button by the door and went to bed. About an hour later, the phone rang. I had set up a wakeup call but I quickly figured out it wasn’t time for that yet.

I answered the phone and it was the woman who brought us up to the room. It seems that the people who had the room last had left some items in the same, and could the hotel come up and retrieve them?

I was groggy but assented. If I had left, say, my passport in the safe and was trying to fly home I’d certainly hope to be able to retrieve my documents. I threw on a bathrobe, a staff member came up with a tool that he used to open the safe. He successfully retrieved the items, and realizing that I was woken up for this apologized and said I’d be hearing from the hotel more shortly.

I couldn’t fall back to sleep, and I never did hear again from the hotel about being woken when the privacy indicator was on. Not that I felt they shouldn’t have woken me under the circumstances, or that any sort of compensation was due. But having said “you’ll be hearing from us” I would have hoped to… hear from them. A thank you for understanding, we’re so sorry to have woken you, did you manage to get back to sleep? would have more than sufficed.

Now awake, I decided to get online and catch up on the day’s messages (since though close to the end of the year, it was still a business day). I found the hotel’s wireless internet to be slow, and I would frequently drop the connection. So I plugged in my rented wireless internet device which worked just fine. Internet connectivity at the hotel would improve a bit over the course of the stay, but most internet sessions were punctuated by a dropped signal a couple of times while I was working.

I got myself together and ready to go out for the evening, I hadn’t eaten much — no breakfast on my Air France flight since I slept through it, a croissant and a few slices of meat and cheese in the arrivals lounge — so was pretty hungry. And I wanted to adjust as quickly as possible to local time.

I hadn’t made a dinner booking for that first night, not knowing what time I’d eat. So the concierge was enlisted for not knowing when we’d want to eat. The concierge picked the perfect spot based on the specifications I gave him. And he provided a carefully drawn walking map, and suggested there was going to be a light rain likely when I’d be returning to the hotel so could they lend an umbrella? The stay was starting out with amazing little touches.

I walked out towards dinner and it was a lovely evening for doing so. While it’s an area that attracts tourists, and while plenty of people are on vacation over the Christmas/New Years period, it was surprisingly quiet.

On return to the hotel there was a half bottle of red wine waiting in the room.

I had already had my fill for the evening, but that bottle would prove useful over lunch the following day.

I fell right to sleep and didn’t wake up until around 8am, had a look outside the window onto the street and decided to make some coffee in the room.

Then I rang up for breakfast. The hotel offers the full American breakfast in their restaurant to Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members, or they’ll let you take the benefit from room service. Since the American breakfast runs 49 euros per person, they’ll offer that as a credit as well if you prefer to order other items.

On the one hand 49 euros per person — 98 euros or about US$130 for two — for breakfast seems kind of insane. On the other hand, they aren’t just charging more for the same sort of breakfast you might get somewhere else. On actually eating the breakfast I found myself thinking that somehow it was actually worth the price they were charging (though I was still grateful to not actually be paying).

You can have muesli and yogurt and fruit. You can order a bread basket. Cooked to order eggs with sides. Fresh squeezed juice and coffee.

I had my eggs scrambled with emmental cheese and it was the absolute most delicious eggs I’ve ever had in my life. The pastries were delicious as well.

And to be able to order it all from room service? Absolute indulgence. I didn’t overeat, though, because I was in Paris and certainly intended to be eating out. Still, it’s hard to do better than breakfast — or other meals, even — at the Park Hyatt.

I also had breakfast in the restaurant, and the choices were very similar to what you could order off of the room service menu. Sure, it was a buffet so you could have as much as you wanted but they brought plenty of each item via room service so it’s not as though the delivered breakfast option didn’t come with enough food. The only advantage I found to the buffet was the ability to have unlimited coffee refills, or unlimited cappuccinos — whereas extra cappuccino through room service would have come at an additional charge.

Naturally I couldn’t resist having those amazing eggs again.

I walked around one day heading downstairs to have a look at the gym, which seemed to be going unutilized by most of the guests.

I did discover that there was a stash of complimentary bottled water there.

Fortunately, the daily mad service brought a couple of large bottles of water. And the evening turndown service put more bottles at the bedside. And I had taken a bunch of bottles with me from the Air France arrivals lounge. So with the help of Air France and the Park Hyatt I managed to stay hydrated, something I often find a bit of a challenge in Europe (usually I’ll make a stop at a grocery store).

My last night at the hotel was New Years Eve, and arriving back to my room after midnight there were some cookies there — I don’t know if they were for “Happy New Year” or “We’re sad to see you go” but they were delicious.

The next morning I slept in, and ordered room service again. This time it was far from perfect. I ordered a couple of cappuccinos and took one sip. Wow. They were made with spoiled milk. If you’ve ever downed warm spoiled milk, it makes for something that isn’t pretty.

I called room service, they seemed skeptical but promised to investigate. A few minutes later I had a call back, an apology, and a promise to send replacements right up. They ‘didn’t understand how that could have happened’ but acknowledged that the milk in the machine had gone bad.

Now again, I didn’t expect any sort of compensation for this but I rather expected a hotel of this caliber to offer up additional apologies. That didn’t happen. In fact, the original room service bill for that morning had a mistake on it, two were dining but the bill only took off breakfast for one. They had promised to fix it, but did not.

I proceeded to get dressed, planning to depart the hotel around 11:30am to begin the journey home. When I went downstairs to check out I found that the breakfast charge was still there, and it was a challenge to explain why it needed to be taken off (they kept pointing to the large amount that had already been taken off, as though the remaining amount were above and beyond the breakfast credit which it was not).

I sort of expected a followup apology for the rotten milk cappuccino, instead I was having to explain why I shouldn’t be charged extra for the breakfast. Nonetheless after a few minutes that was sorted out and I was ready to depart.

Ultimately this was the best hotel in Europe I’ve ever stayed at. I would definitely return. I wish the room had been a little bit bigger, though it was perfectly fine and the bathroom was amazing. Everyone was friendly as can be, although I was surprised by how rarely I was referred to by name other than when picking up the phone (when my name would no doubt have appeared to whomever was answering).

I was also surprised by the lack of followup, on the apology for waking me when the ‘do not disturb’ was on my first day (to open the safe) or for any sort of apology beyond from room service over the phone after they sent up hot spoiled milk.

Still, it was an amazing value on Gold Passport points. Even the one night where the hotel wasn’t completely sold out, Gold Passport was paying 350 Euros for my stay. Overall my 88,000 point stay cost Gold Passport nearly US$3700 in reimbursements to the hotel. And I got about US$525 worth of breakfast for free.

I wouldn’t have paid those prices out of pocket, so it’s not fair to say that’s the value I received, but it was an incredible benefit to be able to stay there on points. I was truly fortunate.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Steve, I agree with you that some people “overvalue” various travel services, whether it be a business class flight using miles (that they would never have paid that much out-of-pocket for) or a 49 Euro breakfast daily that they might have paid for one day.

  2. Gary, writing this from our room on the 6th floor at the Vendôme. We came here partially on your trip report and really enjoying it!

  3. @ Gary,
    I just got back yesterday from 3 nights at the PH and used points for my stay. I am Hyatt Platinum and when I checked in, the woman said since it was my first stay the breakfast buffet would be included. Sure enough, there was a credit for 86 Euros each day (2 people) listed on the bill. At check-out, they mentioned again that breakfast would be taken off the bill and the only charges were the tips I left at breakfast.

  4. You guys are killing me with the Thomas Keller comparison over their breakfast. I just ate at The French Laundry last week and now have to wait a year (Paris over Christmas) to compare. Seriously…it’s breakfast and a buffet. Has everyone making the comparison been to TFL or Per Se?

  5. I just tried to use 33K for a suite. They would not let me. I have to pay for the room and can use points for the upgrade. Is this commonly the case?

  6. We, 2 adults and 2 kids, are going to Paris this summer. Can not book one hotel room with 4 people and we do not have enough points to book two rooms. Does suite allow max 3 people? Any suggestion?
    Thanks

  7. I have stayed many times at the PHPV,either on points or paid stays.
    Breakfast is great, but IMHO the best selling point of the hotel is its location. It is perfect for shopping and sightseeing.
    2 minute-walk to the original Chanel store, 5 minutes away from the 2 main department stores ‘Printemps’ & ‘Galeries Lafayette’. Rue St Honore is one of the main ‘high end’ shopping streets and it is very close to the hotel. Le Louvre museum is within walking distance too.
    You can run in the morning in the fabulous ‘jardin des Tuileries’.

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