Signing up for “Sprunch,” a spa treatment and brunch offered exclusively at the swanky Philippe Stark-designed Le Royal Monceau Hotel, took some thinking.
Should I eat first and spa after, or vice-versa? I finally decided that if it came to it, a hungry, gurgling stomach was preferable to the possible sounds that might come from having eaten a gluttonous brunch. (I feel the same way about large dinners before sex, but that’s a different story.) I even skipped breakfast at the swanky hotel I was staying in, Le Grand Palais Royal Hotel, to take full advantage of the Sprunch experience.
I entered the Spa My Blend by Clarins at the Monceau through an allee of diaphanous floating curtains; everything was white and gleaming, punctuated by artfully placed silver stools and mirrors. Was this a spa, or a movie set of a spa? It was all too perfect. Since I was in France, of course I was offered nuts, fruit and espresso before the massage, but instead, resisting even the chocolate biscotti, I sunk into one of the half dozen deep and pristine white sofas which surround Paris’ largest indoor pool. (How do they keep everything so white? How often do they launder and replace the slipcovers and curtains? My mind raced with questions.) A few minutes later I was escorted to a massage room where for a blessed hour, all thoughts (along with my spasm-ed shoulder muscle) melted away. I’m a very fussy client, but my masseuse, Aurielle, applied the perfect pressure, and I appreciated beyond words that she worked silently and without the usual New Age-y music whining in the background.
By the time my massage ended, I was starving. Forgoing the pool, steam room and sauna, I got dressed and headed to La Cuisine in the lobby for brunch. It was 11:30am, and if I had one quibble with the otherwise lovely Sprunch, it was that the dining room didn’t open until half-past-noon. (Had I known, I would have booked the massage later.) By 12:26pm, the lobby was filled with long, lanky girls, BCBG-clad families and other impossibly impeccable sorts ready to storm the doors. Inside, the spread included everyone’s favorites: smoked salmon, teriyaki, fromages, breads and juicy strawberries the size of ping-pong balls. The sweet table was leaden down with every confection imaginable—“it’s like being in a patisserie except you don’t have to choose just one thing,” I heard a nearby eight-year-old exclaim. With a Calder-like design on the ceiling and coffee served in silver plated cups that reflect the goldfish on the saucer, the attention to detail was flawless.
So is the attention to detail at Anouk, the new nightspot inside the Amastan Hotel. Both the Amastan and Le Royal Monceau are steps from the Champs Élysées, but they are in spirit, brothers from another mother. Monceau is large, classical and sophisticated (think Upper East Side), while the 24-room Amastan is intimate, trendy and hip (think Lower East Side). Inside, Anouk boasts moody, dark blue herringbone wood paneling, illuminated shelves stocked with books and a lush adjacent garden where rocks double as seating. A 14-seat table invites sharing, as does the menu of desserts and savories, such as charcuterie, Maine style lobster roll and beef tartare. The music is cool, and it didn’t hurt that on the night we visited there was a Tom Cruise-look-alike juggling cocktails (like their specialty goji berry and cherry-infused gins) at the bar. No, it didn’t hurt at all.