In the points and miles world, there are what people call “aspirational” hotel properties. These are properties that cost an enormously prohibitive amount of money for most people, but even the most average of joes can stay there using points. We’re talking typical nightly rates upwards of $1000. Among the most well-known are the Conrad Koh Samui, the Park Hyatt Sydney, the Conrad Maldives on Rangali Island, and the property in front of which I found myself on a cloudy Tuesday about midday: the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome.
A note on OPM travel
OPM traveling leads to a different type of review. What’s OPM, you ask? Other People’s Money. I didn’t pay anything out of pocket to stay at this hotel. The people in front of me were paying about 800 euros/nt (I overheard the desk agent confirm their rate). Read this review with a grain of salt. I do decently well at my job, but not nearly well enough to even dream of someday dropping a grand per night to stay at a hotel when there were 3-4 different Airbnb options for $150/nt within a few blocks.
Back to the Park Hyatt
As you’ll recall from my last post, I took a Roissybus from Charles de Gaulle airport to the Paris Opera bus stop, which is very conveniently located to the Park Hyatt Vendome. Undaunted by the ease of location, I managed to get lost and ambled around the Opera district until I found it. Friendly advice, look at a map. As I approached the hotel, there were teenagers with their cell phones huddled on either side of the entrance (apparently Kim Kardashian’s wedding festivities were in the area that weekend). I immediately thought of a sneaky way to trick them, and pulled my hat low and my hand covering my face and said loudly “NO PICTURES, NO PICTURES”. The teenagers weren’t fooled, so I ended up just looking like a moron. But that would’ve been cool to end up on TMZ and mistaken for Brad Pitt or George Clooney (people tell me I resemble both) [Nobody tells him that -ed.].
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in to the lobby of a $1000/night hotel. Maybe a musical number similar to Prince Ali in the movie Aladdin? Alas, no trumpets played or dancers twirled. I was, however, warmly greeted by quite a few people. A person at the concierge desk asked how he could help and I asked where I could check in. Here was a nice touch: instead of pointing, he insisted on taking my bag and walking me the short walk to the check-in desk.
The agent at the desk was finishing up with a client and in no time welcomed me to the hotel. She acknowledged my Hyatt Diamond status (I was doing a Diamond Challenge, which unfortunately I will fail here in a few days) and explained the benefits to me (free breakfast being the key here, and the entire reason I chose to do a Diamond Challenge). A lady appeared and insisted on walking me to my room. I determined that she did in fact work for the hotel and followed her to the elevators and up to the 6th floor.
The Smell of Richness
The entire hotel had this smell to it, probably piped in from Odor Control Tubes (which would be a great name for a rock band, by the way) somewhere. It smelled so dang classy and elite, I couldn’t help but be a little snooty when I smelled it. It wasn’t bad at all, the only reason I even noticed it is because I smelled something similar at the Park Hyatt Dubai a few days later.
We walked down the hallway towards my room, 633, a corner room.
We arrived at my room.
She opened the door for me and I was blown awa…wait, no…awestruc…no, that’s not it either. It was a hotel room. I’ve seen many before. Some were bigger than this room, others were smaller. For European standards it was a fairly large room, but not enormous by any means.
The bed was enormous and the bedding was top-notch, infinity-count thread or something like that. It had what seemed like millions of decorative pillows. I’m a bit of a pillow-fort kinda guy when I sleep, so it was good to be pillowed up instead of having to awkwardly ring the front desk and ask for more pillows for a room with one guest.
The room had a very large desk, which got a lot of use as a Place to Put Things.
The bathroom was of a nice size, with very nice shower amenities.
The closet was of a nice size as well.
The view outside was of the building across the street, but it was a nice building and added to the regal feeling of the hotel.
The lady from the hotel helped me understand everything I needed to know, and I acted interested (“oh THAT’S where the bed is”) and she again welcomed me to the hotel and wished me a pleasant stay in Paris.
Ok, so what is so special about it?
You’ve probably looked at the pictures above and don’t really see the $1000/night. That’s 1) the shoddy photography and 2) you’re just seeing the hard product. “Hard product” refers to the furnishings of the hotel, the bedding, the showers, the gym, etc. The hard product at the Park Hyatt Vendome was incredibly nice, definitely a standard deviation above other hotels I’ve stayed at. Where the Park Hyatt Vendome excelled was the soft product. You could tell that the staff was incredibly well-trained. The “smoothness” of a hotel is usually directly correlated with the amount of training they have for their employees. No matter who I saw from the hotel, if they made eye contact with me they wished me good day and asked if there was anything they could do to help. It was precise, warm, and pretty genuine, if I’m honest. It wasn’t the best hotel service I’ve ever experienced, but it was very consistent at a very high level from the beginning to the end of my stay.
Now, is that enough to justify $1000/night?
Maybe not by itself. But there’s an element of exclusivity to the hotel as well. Outrageously expensive hotels are common in Paris, the Park Hyatt is unique in that it is an outrageously expensive hotel and is actually quite large compared to the other priceys (which are largely boutique hotels with a tenth of the rooms). So you’re not paying for a hotel, you’re paying for the privilege of saying you’re staying at THE Park Hyatt Vendome. So, if you combine the great hard product, the wonderful soft product, the exclusivity, and the unbeatable location and I can tell you honestly: I still couldn’t afford to stay here.
Most of the decorations were naked people, so that probably helps, I guess.
How much could I not afford to stay here? The breakfast runs 50 euros. Was it worth it? I don’t know, it was gratis due to my status challenge 🙂
I had heard quite a bit about the breakfast here. Everyone said you have to eat it, plain and simple. Some other miles bloggers even said they’d gladly pay for it, so I was eager to give it a shot. I typically don’t eat breakfast, but I made an exception for the Park Hyatt Vendome, especially since it was free.
I went down to the restaurant and was promptly guided to my table and offered my choice of morning newspaper. Since I was a Big Important Person OF COURSE I wanted a newspaper, as long as it was the Wall Street Journal. So, not only did I get a free breakfast, but I got to read the Wall Street Journal for the first time in probably 3-4 years. Being that I work in finance, I realized I should probably read the WSJ more often, but before that could happen, my scrambled eggs arrived. And OH MAN were they good. Like all-caps good.
I read a book called The Culture Code once that really resonated with me. It talks about the differences between cultures and how it drives purchasing decisions. Pretty freaky stuff actually. Anyway, the author (who is French) described the difference between the way Americans eat and the French eat. The American archetype for eating is to push back an empty plate and say “Wow, I’m full!” where the French archetype would be to push back a plate with maybe a little food left on it and say “Wow, that was delicious!” (the assumption would be that the French people saying that spoke in unaccented English for purposes of this blog post). And that’s the way it was with the breakfast here. All of the food was so rich, so perfectly cooked, and the ingredients of such a high quality that I almost didn’t want to finish my plate. Not just the hot items you could order, but the buffet as well.
Everything was wonderful. Every option looked like it was the best of the best. And oh man the brioche was some of the best bread I’ve ever had. I also tend to stay away from gluten and bread, but I had no chance when faced with some of the best pastries I’d ever seen and smelled.
So here it is: if I was staying here without status, I would 100% pay for the breakfast. It was that good.
My stay at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome was uneventful, which is what I think Hyatt wanted. When I say “uneventful” I don’t mean it was mediocre. I mean from the second I arrived at the hotel there was a veritable army of people to attend to me and make sure I had an amazing stay, which I absolutely did. It was uneventful in the sense that it started excellent and ended excellent.
I had two free nights to use at any Hyatt in the world (as the result of a card bonus from the Chase Hyatt Visa) and I’m glad I used them at the Park Hyatt Vendome. I’d read so many good things about it and am happy to report that it lived up to the hype. The staff made excellence seem ordinary, which is hard to do.
You can have a night at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome for 30,000 Hyatt points (at current rates) or about $1000/night. If you have the Hyatt points, go for it! If you have the type of money where you’d consider paying for nights here, I have some great business ideas that need investors.