Trip Review: London, Paris and Points Between
Part 1: MCO to LHR & Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill
Part 2: The Power of Uber
Part 3: Riding Brittany Ferries Across the Channel
Part 4: Hyatt Paris Vendôme and American CDG-MCO
Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme
2 Nights, 2 Rooms • 2 Free Night Certificates + 44,000 Ultimate Rewards Points
As enjoyable as our stay was at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, it didn’t hold a candle to what we encountered at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme. Upgraded to a pair of connecting Deluxe rooms thanks to our Hyatt Diamond status, the pair of rooms combined felt more like a capacious suite.
Both rooms featured golden molding around the beds and windows, rich wood interiors and inset golden molding near the ceilings that served to make the ceiling seem even higher than it was. As impressive as the bedrooms were, the bathrooms were much more so. Featuring two sink areas and both a walk-in shower and a tub large enough for a full-sized adult to actually lay in, the bathrooms also featured a separate toilet area and exceedingly large walk-in closet complete with full-size ironing board and iron.
The amenities in each room were an exceptionally nice touch, with hygienic amenities arranged “just so” in a leather-bound case in each bathroom. Each tub included a loofah and extra shampoos and conditioners, while a sewing kit, shoe shine kit, bath robes and even slippers awaited in the adjacent walk-in closet. Each room also featured glass bottles of Evian as well as Nescafé machines with an array of flavors and a number of hot teas to enjoy. As a Hyatt Diamond amenity, each room received an array of decorative macaroon treats and bottles of wine, as well as hand-written notes from our host welcoming us to the property.
Each room had a splendid view of the internal courtyard by way of windows that included remote-controlled shades and could be completely opened in order to enjoy the cool evening air. Individual, adjustable reading lights were controllable from each side of the bed, along with controls for the room’s general lighting. The large HDTVs were complemented by Blu-Ray players and an array of channels even more impressive than that offered by the Churchill.
The rooms didn’t include 110V, US-friendly outlets like those at the Churchill did, but did stow away a converted 110V within each room’s desk area, obviously intended for use by a laptop. Rather than relying on tried-and-true door tags to request privacy, each room included a doorbell-like button that illuminated a light outside the room to allow attendants to know to come back at another time.
I can’t overstate how impressed I was with the rooms, even though the suites were sure to be even nicer. While The Churchill makes its case as a Category 6 property by way of its location, the Hyatt Vendôme provides the same level of centrality while also offering a spare-no-expense aesthetic in its accommodations.
Breakfast at the Vendôme
Because the Vendôme didn’t feature a club level like that found at the Churchill, we were granted a free breakfast for all four of us each morning, with the option to order room service or partake of the buffet on the ground floor. We opted for the buffet each morning, which carries a retail cost of €49 per person.
The Vendôme does its best to justify this cost by way of an excellent spread of fine food that easily outclassed even the Churchill’s fine breakfast.
Perfect strawberries, excellent smoked salmon and various meats, an array of fresh French breads and pastries, artisan honey and a variety of fine cheeses were complemented by to-order egg service, including omelets that achieved a level of fluffy texture and excellent taste rarely achieved.
As a restaurant environment as opposed to the club environment of the Churchill, service was even more attentive, not merely assisting but serving throughout each meal.
Ordered food was presented with appreciated flourishes, such as all three of our omelets being revealed from beneath silver plate covers simultaneously by three different members of the wait staff.
Fresh juices, hot teas and spring water flowed readily, with no glass being permitted to go dry for even a moment. Once again, something as simple as breakfast set an excellent tone to each day of our stay thanks to the scrumptious food and splendid service. The buffet was so well run that I opted to wake up extra early to enjoy it once more, rather than opting for room service, before making our way to Charles De Gaulle for the flight home.
American – CDG to MIA to MCO
Off-Peak Saver Economy • 20,000 AA Miles + $41 Taxes/Fees Per Person
Our flight home took us from Charles De Gaulle in Paris to Miami, then from Miami to Orlando. The last time I’d flown transatlantic, I did so without checked baggage, so I was slightly taken aback when American staff in Paris told us we’d have to pick up and recheck our bags in Miami after going through US Customs.
At first, it felt like we’d been bit by the same level of unnecessary hassle that struck on our departing itinerary when switching from JetBlue to American at JFK. After a bit more thought, I understood the need for the change better. Miami was the arriving city for every passenger on our plane from Paris, but those with connections could be heading to any number of locations from there. How were Customs officials supposed to deal with this fact, especially if passengers had a final destination without any real Customs presence? Given this thinking, and a healthy amount of layover time in Miami, I decided not to let it bother me.
The flight was generally comfortable, despite once again riding in Economy and this time on an aging American 767. Not nearly as roomy as the wider-bodied 777 we flew on the way over, the 767 also lacked seat-back monitors and generally seemed even more due for a refurbishment. The flight was also nearly three hours longer than the flight over, given how much farther Paris to Miami is than New York to London.
Two snacks and two meals were served on the flight, along with a regular rotation of beverage carts. None of the snacks or meals were anything to write home about, but I appreciated the nearly constant attention of the crew throughout the flight.
Customs in Miami was honestly quite easy. The 20 minute wait was just enough to convince me to apply for Global Entry before my next international travel (especially since it includes TSA Pre-Check) but was far from onerous.
From there, Miami International made it as easy as possible to recheck our baggage. After picking it up after passing through the Customs desk, we were directed to a special bag check and security line just for connecting passengers, which was far easier than I had feared. The whole process took less than 45 minutes, including the 20 minutes simply waiting to speak with Customs up front.
Final Thoughts on American’s Economy Transatlantic Service
Considering the flights to and from our European destinations, it’s hard to be too disappointed in American’s product. At just 20,000 miles each way thanks to Off-Peak Saver Economy fares that are available beginning October 15th and lasting until May 15th, our redemption felt like a pretty tremendous value.
I believe I would have been quite disappointed had I dropped the full 50,000 miles each way for a Saver Business fare knowing that opting for Economy would have allowed me to take the same trip during off-peak season another 1.5 times for the same miles. I would opt for Economy again during off-peak season in the future, though I’d consider Business Class at least one way on a longer-haul flight on an American 777-300ER given the improved Business Class product now offered on some routes.
The additional room, service and comfort offered even in Economy on international routes isn’t life-changing by any means, but it’s just enough more than on a typical domestic route that even my nine hour flight back to Miami felt more pleasant than many 3-4 hour flights I’ve taken on smaller, more cramped domestic flights. For me, especially when flying with US carriers, squeezing the most travel out of every mile is most important, even if in theory an Upper Class redemption with a higher cash value would be the more valuable redemption.
After all, the most important thing to do after returning home is to start planning your next trip!