Feb 6th, 2019, 02:15 AM

Bourgeois on a Budget

By Kristina Kuznetcova
Bourgeois on a Budget. Photo Credit: Kristina Kuznetcova
Have tea time in one of the most luxurious hotels in Paris "like a boss".

Millions of tourists and students flock to Paris year after year full of high expectations and sometimes naive romanticism. People enter the embrace of the luminous city and then pull back. The reason for this strange, and usually immediate reaction, lies in the absurdly high expense aspect of the Parisian lifestyle. Once a person places their foot on the promenade of the Champs-Élysées, they may realize that the only memories they can afford are a Tour Eiffel keychain and a picture of themselves holding a baguette, with the Eiffel Tower on the background, while wearing a t-shirt that says "I Love Paris". There is no surprise that people find it almost impossible to fulfill their desire to experience Paris at its finest. The prices literally bite, and, trust me, harder than a hungry Cerberus. It's easy for one to become concerned that Parisian luxury is unreachable for an ordinary person. However, true luxury still can be obtained, if you know where to seek it.

Ritz's lounge. Photo Credit: Kristina Kuznetcova

We all want to get closer to our idols, whether they are movie stars, politicians, singers, or influencers. Wouldn't it be marvelous to eat the same haute-cuisine food that they eat, wear the same couturier clothes that they prefer, live in the same luxe hotels that they select for their vacations,  and drive the same insanely expensive sports cars that they crash from time to time? It might sound unbelievable, but it is possible to get a taste of this lifestyle without the necessity of spending an enormous amount of money.

The preference that all these powerful and enviable people have in common while traveling is, of course, hotels.  And Ritz, the ultimate leader in the hotel industry and the symbol of Parisian luxury itself, offers a chic tea time for 15 euros. This historic place was opened by César Ritz in 1898 and ever since it has served as "a second home" to numerous iconic figures, including Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princess Diana. A countless number of celebrities prefer Ritz over any other hotel, which makes it not only the most famous hotel in Paris but also all over the world. That being said, there is a big chance of meeting your favorite celebrity couple while they are spending their evening in Le Bar Vendôme.

Le Bar Vendôme. Photo Credit: Kristina Kuznetcova

Le Bar Vendôme, the signature Ritz's bar is located to the left of the main entrance. The bar will welcome anyone with a smile on the hostess’s face and an invitation to pick their own table. Unfortunately, the area under the glass ceiling is not available for this case, because it is a tea time experience. However, the bar area with the velvet bordeaux sofas and heavy oak tables is exceptionally cordial and relaxed.  It is better to sit on the right of the entrance to the bar as these tables face the piano and provide the full view of the pianist improvising Jazz during the live music timing.

The menu has a rich selection of teas, but a choice from the section of black teas will definitely improve the experience of this "journey". I would recommend L'Hiver au Ritz. It is one of the few signature teas offered in Ritz that was specifically created for the taste palette of the most exquisite gourmets. Ripe berries and rich vanilla, with a hint of warm spice,  create a perfect marriage of sweetness and tenderness — an ultimate delight in all its glory.



Tea time table setting. Photo Credit: Kristina Kuznetcova

One pot of tea is more than enough for one person and even for two. So, if there is someone dear to your heart, make sure to bring them with you.  For only 15 euros, Ritz offers a large pot of tea (black or green), one or two glasses of water (Ritz does not serve plain tap water: it is filtered several times, which makes it as good as Evian, only free), five handmade chocolates by François Perret, and a sugar-bowl filled with reed sugar.

Ritz's prerogative is to convey the maximum comfort and home-like feeling to its guests. Due to this the gesture of hospitality, you can have an unlimited supplement of mint and lemon slices! You can ask for an unlimited amount of drinking water, and your pot can be refilled infinite times as well. Every time you ask for a new portion of hot water in the pot, the set of candies will also be renewed. Hence, every single item becomes perpetual. Logically, one tea time may put the hotel in debt if they had a flow of insatiable tea lovers, but Ritz has been lucky so far.

The tea L'Hiver au Ritz , drinking water, sugar-bowl with reed sugar, a set of handmade candy and a vase with fresh tulips. Photo Credit: Kristina Kuznetcova

Once the relatively affordable bill is covered, it is a good idea to have a walk inside the hotel. Ritz itself is a work of art, and now you are its guest. The hallway represents the heart of the hotel, where some of the most beautiful minds and appearances of all times used to hang out. Ritz invites every sophisticated observer to discover the most beautiful galleries, located inside of the hotel. Shop windows inside are lined with luxury products from brands like Hermes, Graff, Dior, and Jimmy Choo, giving you a chance to merge with the atmosphere and realize that experiencing luxury can be affordable.

Ritz is not the only place in the city that allows people on a budget to taste the bourgeois lifestyle. Le Meurice, Plaza Athénée, Le Crillon, and many other hotels offer similar experiences for the same amount of money if not less. Exploring the magic of Paris is totally up to you. If the city accepts you regardless of social status, why not give luxury a try? Even if the symbol of luxury can be contained in something as simple as a pot of tea...

Ritz's hallway. Photo Credit: Kristina Kuznetcova