Saint James Paris has always had lofty ambitions: in previous lives it has been an intellectual boot-camp for budding French boffins, and site of the first ever hot-air balloon airfield. In its latest guise as colourful, cultured, country estate-style hotel, it’s still flying high.French beauty brand Gemology (www.gemology.fr) chose the hotel as the site of its first spa. There are two Moroccan-influenced treatment and steam rooms, and products feature ingredients derived from precious stones. This is likely to be the only time you will use a gym with chandeliers and a parquet floor.
If you’re here to celebrate a special occasion, book one of the ground floor reception rooms, which seat up to 25 people, and have a private dinner party. Avenue Victor Hugo, a short walk away, is famous for its high-end boutiques. The Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are also just a short stroll from the hotel. Visit L’Institut du Monde Arabe on Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard in the 5ème (www.imarabe.org). As well as the amazing Jean Nouvel façade and Islamic art exhibitions, it has a top-floor terrace with great views across the Seine to Notre Dame and Ile de la Cité.