28 February 2015

A WInter's Holiday Trip: London, Paris, New York

Normally, I don't take trips longer than a week involving stopping in three cities.  But the way the holidays lined up and the amount of remaining vacation time led me to plan out such an adventure.  It also helped that I did want to dine a a few different places.  The focus of the trip was to spend New Year's Eve in Paris (which I had never done before).  Planning around that was my dislike for Charles De Gaulle Airport, hence the stops in London.  And I really wanted to spend a little time in New York.

My first stop involved two nights in London.  I decided to splurge and stay at the Renaissance St. Pancreas again.  This time, I just chose the smallest Chambers Suite, which was actually selling at a relatively reasonable price and still came with access to the very nice Chambers Club (Executive Lounge).  The room was small but still very nice.

Along with access to the Chambers Club, a Chambers Suite also comes with transfer assistance to/from the Eurostar trains.  That was another reason I chose to stay here.  Being connected to the Eurostar train station is very convenient.  Since the Eurostar train is my preferred way to get to Paris, the setup was ideal.  With the transfer service, the hotel assists with taking you through expedited entry to the platform and stowing your luggage on the train.  The expedited entry is by taking you through the Business Premier line (where there never is a queue) regardless of the class of ticket purchased.  For this trip, I had purchased Standard Premier seats, which gets you access to solo seats and a meal service on the trip.

While in London, I had the good fortune to be able to dine at one o my favorite restaurants, Kitchen Table.  Normally, they do not serve on Mondays, but because of the holidays and planned vacation closure, they were open for a few days between Christmas and New Year's.

For the write-up of this visit to Kitchen Table, click here.

I also took advantage of the nice weather to ride the Emirates Air Line gondolas, check out the Emirates Flight museum and visit the O2 Arena in Greenwich. I saw that you can buy a ticket to walk on the O2 Arena roof (I passed).

The Eurostar train left on time.  Along the way, they served a cold lunch and beverages.  We arrived at Gare du Nord on schedule.  My hotel for Paris was to be the Concorde Opera Hotel, recently acquired and reopened by the Hilton.  The hotel is located right in front of the Gare St. Lazare, which is only one stop from Gare du Nord on a regional (RER) train.  To ride the train, I just needed a standard Metro ticket.  On a past visit, I had purchased a carnet package (a set of 10 Metro tickets).  I learned that these never expire, so it made for a quick transfer since I did not have to stop and buy a ticket for the local train.

I decided to splurge on the hotel in Paris and redeemed a lot of Hilton points for a suite at the Hilton.  While the hotel has a very classic look on the outside and in the public room/bar, my room was ultra-modern in decor.

The hotel was right atop a major junction for several Metro lines, so it made it easy to get around Paris.  Additionally, it was withing walking distance of many parts of central Paris.  While generally enjoyed my time in Paris, there were a few things that made for a less-than-optimal stay.  First off, my initial premise for the trip to Paris was to see the Eiffel Tower with fireworks shooting off of it on New Year's Eve.  Unfortunately, I didn't do my research.  If I had, I would have discovered that they rarely shoot fireworks from the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve (They shoot them off the Arc de Triomphe, but that is not the same).  Secondly, I don't think my hotel was quite ready to be open for business. I was not getting any heat in my room.  When I went down to the front desk to inquire, they said it was a problem with several rooms in the hotel.  They were out of space heaters, so they brought extra blankets.  By the next night, they had acquired more space heaters and delivered one to my room.  Finally, I ended up coming down with something late in the day on New year's Eve, so I opted not to go out at all.

I still had a nice enough time in Paris,  I dined at a very nice restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel called Sur Mesure.

For the full write-up, click here.

I also visited the Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum designed by Frank Ghery.   It was an easy Metro ride out to the western end of Paris at the edge of the Bois du Boulogne.  The building is fascinating in itself, but it also had some interesting exhibitions.  I got there just before opening and stood in line for a ticket, but you can also buy tickets online, which speeds up entrance to the building.

On New Year's Day, the streets of Paris were very quiet.  I had a noon Eurostar train to catch.  When I found the entrance gates to the RER train for the ride back, they were open.  It appeared that the train rides would be free on the holiday. The train ride back to England was on schedule and uneventful.  Upon arrival, there was a bellman from the St. Pancras who wold take me and my luggage to the hotel.  I had pre-arranged the meeting, as it was part of my room stay benefits.  Given that I was still not feeling 100% well, I was glad for the assistance.

I had not plans that evening except to rest in the named suite (The Sir John Betjeman Suite).  The next day, they would drive me to Heathrow Airport (another benefit of staying in a named suite) for my flight to New York.

With an early afternoon flight, I had ample time to shop the duty free stores, try some wine and food at the United Club Global First Lounge before the on-time departure for New York/Newark. While in New York, I did some post-holiday shopping (Century 21, Bloomingdale's, Barney's).  But my main reason for stopping in New York was to try out the new location of one of my favorite restaurants (anywhere), momofuku ko.  They had closed down their old location in mid-October and recently opened in their new location in December.  And with their reopening, they also changed their no-photo policy, so I would finally be able to do a proper write up.

For the full write-up, click here.

So, with that dinner, as well as my regular visits to the Chikalicious Dessert Bar, and my United p.s. flight home, my long Winter Holiday trip came to an end.

No comments:

Post a Comment