Now that we’ve wined and dined and shopped our way through Paris Poe-style, you might be wondering (or, more realistically, not) how we came to be on this fabulous last-minute trip.
My travel-agent-for-life XFE and I are both signed up for Travelzoo’s weekly email deal alerts. And every week we’re tempted beyond belief by last minute deals. I guess it was only a matter of time till we succumbed.
And that’s when we first learned about OpenSkies, a subsidiary of British Airways.
OpenSkies is an all-business-class airline operating non-stop service from Newark and Dulles to Paris-Orly Airport. With only 84 passengers per flight, the 757 aircraft, which typically holds 220 passengers, is roomy and comfortable while providing privacy and personalized service.
The wide, comfortable seats recline almost completely and have extendable foot rests. It was like I was being cradled. I slept both coming and going. They also gave you these little packages with socks, eye masks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, which was very nice. And the leg room? Holy stretched legs, I couldn’t even reach the seat in front of me, which was a problem when I wanted to get one of my magazines, but as my friend Linda would say, “First World Problems.”
The crew provided personal in-flight entertainment systems that had games, TV shows, and lots of new movies and documentaries. Well, new to us since we never go to the movies. We watched The Hangover II on the way over (meh) and Bad Teacher (hilarious – and I’m not even a Cameron Diaz fan) on the way back. I tried to watch Midnight in Paris on the way back as well, but only confirmed my annoyance with all things Woody Allen (seriously, how is he still allowed to make movies?). I fell asleep during that one.
OpenSkies promise “freshly prepared gourmet” meals, which is a bit of a stretch (the breakfast croissant was particularly bad and less-than-fresh, ok, stale is what we’d call that), but it is probably fair to say it’s better than average airplane food, which isn’t exactly a high bar. They also promise wine, champagne and spirits, which was not a stretch and was indeed, available and free.
OpenSkies also provided access to airport lounges where complimentary drinks, snacks and wireless internet was available. Sidenote: The lounge at Orly far surpassed the Dulles lounge in terms of snack choices. For example, they had these individual packets of marinated green olives called Oloves. Single serving, doesn’t need to be refrigerated. GENIUS. I loved them so much. When oh when will we get some of these here??
Anywho, the whole experience on OpenSkies was pretty great. We had weather problems in DC, so unfortunately, we were delayed about an hour and a half, which is unfortunate, but no fault of the airline. They came by with champagne and nuts and kept us up to date on the situation.
On the way over, my personal entertainment thingy wasn’t working, so they brought me a new one. And, my seat wouldn’t recline, but luckily, the flight wasn’t full and we were able to move to two other seats in the back to sleep. Annoying, but not a big deal.
The only glitch on our way back is that the universal plugs kept cutting in and out and XFE’s personal entertainment thingy ran out of battery juice and wouldn’t charge. They brought a new cord, but it really was just a wonky plug. If you pushed the thing in all the way, it turned red; if you left it hanging out, it turned green.
With the October special they’re advertising on their site, it’s a great deal for what you get. I would definitely fly them again.
While in Paris, we rested our weary little heads at Le Meridien Etoile, a Starwood property, naturalement.
It’s located in a nice neighborhood near the Porte Maillot metro stop and across the street from a mall that we never made it to. There were tons of little restaurants all around and the whole area had a great neighborhood vibe. It was also walking distance to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysee. And, as we discovered the second night, you could even see the Eiffel Tower from our room.
We had a very nice room (7056), probably larger than most European hotel rooms. It was nicely decorated, very W like, with crisp white linens, modern chrome and dark sleek wood. And an odd light/art piece thingy.
The bathroom was fine, although only a shower and only a half glass partition (no shower curtain). I felt like all the cold air was coming in and all the water was splashing out! Also: the water didn’t get very hot, but admittedly, I like my showers scalding hot, so that’s more of a personal peccadillo. The toiletries were made especially for the hotel, I don’t remember the brand, and they were very pleasant. XFE, of course, brought home a stash of them. But since the only thing he bought himself in Paris was a jar of Dijon mustard, I’m prepared to humor his hotel kleptomania.
Overall, the hotel public spaces were very modern and hip with low couches and marble tables. We went into the jazz bar our first night for a nightcap and while there was no cover charge to sit at the bar, the drink prices were exorbitant (like 17 euros for a gin, and another 4 or so for the tonic), so we ended up skipping the drink and going up to our room.
Ah, and about going up to our room – the elevator makes weird noises! One morning it was running water that sounded a bit like a toilet overflowing. Other times it was birds or jungle noises. Kinda odd. We giggled every time.
All of the concierge(s? – when plural, is it with an ‘s’?) were wonderful. Very patient and helpful. We even called one when we were standing outside a club that would not let us in. They called the club, but alas, we still weren’t let in. Read my Yelp review for L’Arc for the full story on that. Not the concierge’s fault, but still very annoying. We definitely would definitely stay here again and recommend it to others. The location, staff and rooms were great.
This picture is apropos of nothing. Except the fact that we were walking down the street and I told XFE that we should keep our eyes open for tag art. We had seen Banksy’s documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” a few months ago and so I knew there is a lot of graffiti/tagging art in Paris. Literally, five seconds later, we looked up and saw this piece by Space Invader. Pretty awesome.