On our second to last day in Paris back in April, we went for afternoon tea at Hôtel Meurice on 228 rue de Rivoli, just across from the Tuileries Garden in the 1st Arrondissement. Le Meurice came highly recommended by a family friend, not to mention that it is usually in the top 5-10 places to enjoy afternoon tea in Paris.
Celebrating its 180th anniversary this year, the 5-star hotel Le Meurice has long understood the importance of luxurious service and is part of the Dorchester Collection. Although the hotel has been at its present location since 1835, it was actually founded 20 years earlier on 223 Rue Saint Honore. (However, the very first hotel Meurice was opened in Calais in 1771!) The hotel owes its name to the French postmaster, Charles-Augustin Meurice, who catered these hotels to English tourists. He was aware of what these picky tourists needed: rooms of various sizes, spaces for sitting and talking, specialty laundry soap, English-speaking staff, currency exchange, and much more. It was not long before Le Meurice became the place to be for royals and the elite, and eventually, directors, film stars, and the like.
Afternoon tea is served inside Le Dalí restaurant, though I personally think the Alain Ducasse room (or salon or restaurant) would have been more suitable, given the brightness of the room. Le Dalí was dimly lit and after downing several cups of thick hot chocolate, I nearly fell asleep on my bench. As I was saying, Le Dalí is Dalinien-themed. The giant painted canvas hanging from the ceiling features flying humans. Why the name? Salvador Dali was a major fan of Le Meurice, who would spend one month every year for 30 years in the Royal Suite Alphonse XIII.
* Coffee, hot chocolate, or tea
* Selection of finger sandwiches
* Scones with clotted cream and jams
* Sweets created by Pastry Chef Cédric Grolet and Christophe Robin’s Little Indulgences.
I ordered hot chocolate which turned out to be sipping chocolate. In hindsight, I should have chosen tea as chocolate almost always sends me into a sugar coma. Nevertheless, it was very delicious though I think it may have been the reason I never made it past the scones.
The sweets, as you can see from the photos, are beautifully created. We ended up packing our desserts to go and I regret that I never had the chance to try the éclair or the apple as my family finished them the next morning. :'( I still look at the photo of the apple and think, ‘If only I could eat you…’
During our afternoon tea, we were even served fresh madeleines, which have been my current obsession since I first tried them in February.
When I first saw the price, my eyeballs nearly popped out but when I saw the prices for afternoon tea in London, Paris is considered more affordable. Not to mention the food in Paris is always worth the price.
Staff members were very polite though we did notice that the servers would serve the VIPs first before coming to our table – half an hour later. It probably didn’t help that we were seated in the corner, making us less noticeable. The restaurant wasn’t even that busy when we visited. Overall, everyone was courteous and no one was snooty, regardless of how one is dressed. (My brother dressed very casually, as the young do, but was not treated with contempt. [rating=4.5]
Yes, funny or inappropriately odd section isn’t it? However, think about this for one moment. The lavatory is actually quite important. Is it clean? Does it smell nice? Is it spacious? Is it easy to flush? For Le Meurice, they earn 5 stars for their lavatories. I even photographed the toilet because the toilet seat looked like a rectangular diamond. Maybe toilets should be rectangular and not oval.
Aside from the service – which I’m certain will improve – everything else was tip top. Thank you very much for the experience, Meurice! Happy 180th!