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Dispatch from Paris: The most charming new hotel, a fabric store we’d fly there for and other finds in less-touristy neighborhoods, plus the experts explain WTF with the Delta (dis)loyalty situation
Last month, our daughter moved to Paris for her year of study abroad, which gave us a completely new perspective and experience of the city—setting up an apartment and figuring out all the things one needs to know when living in a new place. We wanted to help Clara with the move—Edinburgh, where she goes to university, is much smaller and easier to navigate, plus she has her very established friend group there. Also, this was the first time she would be living alone, in an 8th-floor walkup to boot. Yes, she lives in something called a chambre de bonne—historically, the apartments for maids of the people who lived in the front part of the building and who had elevators. Luckily Clara’s apartment has a proper (albeit tiny) bathroom and kitchen, and great light. (Some of these chambres de bonne in her building share a hallway bathroom.) She technically lives in the 3rd arrondissement (Haut-Marais), but is closer to Canal St Martin in the 10th, an area I haven’t really explored much.
Luckily for me my friend, cookbook author Emiko Davies, had just stayed in this area and written about it in her Substack (subscribe here!), so I mapped all of her suggestions out before we arrived. It was comforting to feel familiar with the neighborhood, even though it was our first time. While we wanted to stay near Clara, the Maison & Objet design show was going on, which meant all of the hotels near her (and actually in most of the city) were sold out. Hotel Providence, right around the corner from her, was our first choice, but when we couldn’t get in we decided to try their new sister hotel, the Eldorado, even though it’s in the 18th arr. about a half hour away by metro or car. I was worried it was going to be too far from everything, but once we checked in, we fell in love with the hotel and the neighborhood. It felt self-contained with everything you’d want in it, from the butcher to the cheese shop to the perfect flower stand, small restaurants filled with locals and no big global brands. In a way it reminded me of everything I love about Bordeaux, that charming French-city feeling and all the signs that people actually live in it.
But first, the Eldorado: We absolutely loved it. The scale (26 rooms), the palette (many shades of green—they wanted to create a country house feeling in the city), the well-appointed rooms (walls and closets upholstered in the most beautiful fabrics), the smart use of space (no useless furniture in the room, plus and a bathroom with a huge tub)…and the garden, which has a charming outdoor restaurant that makes you completely forget you’re in a big city. For our morning run we headed to Parc Monceau, and along the way passed through Rue de Lévis, a pedestrian-only historical market street, and wished we could stop to eat all the beautiful cheeses and fruits. We actually did stop to look at realtors’ windows, because this neighborhood was making us really fall in love with Paris. Literally every restaurant we saw on Rue des Dames looked like some place we’d love to try. But that wasn’t why we were here—we were on a mission to make Clara feel as comfortable as possible in her new place, so we’ll have to keep exploring the 18th on our next visit later this fall.
We needed to find some fabric to cover a chair in her furnished apartment, so we headed towards Sacre Coeur, where we’d never thought to notice all the fabric stores just below it. We went to Reine (basically the Mood of Paris), which has four floors and such incredible choices and prices that we resolved to come back for fabric for anything we redo at our new house in the Médoc. Another place where we had great luck was Maison des Vacances, which we happened upon while walking; we found a sweet decorative pillow for Clara and lots of beautiful linens for me (which I didn’t buy but am still thinking about). We got up early to ride to the south of Paris for the Vanves flea market, where we found a gilded early 20th-century full-length mirror that was perfect for her apartment for just 80 euros. And Matt bought Clara her first good sauté pan and paring knife at his favorite kitchenware store in the city, E. Dehillerin.
But it wasn’t all moving/decorating tasks—we did get to visit the new Cravan bar in the 6th. We’ve been fans of the original in the 16th for years (it’s still open!) and love the owner Franck Audoux—Matt included one of his recipes in his Negroni book. His new bar is about 10x the size of the original and it’s super clever/cool, has incredible cocktails, a Rizzoli bookstore floor, and is a great alternative to the obvious landmark on the block (yes, of course we love Cafe Flore, but it’s nice to try something new!). If you’re checking luggage on the way home, pick up one of their bottles of pre-made cocktails—they’re incredible and you’ll be the only person in your friend group serving it. We returned to Nodaiwa, Clara’s favorite Japanese restaurant, which specializes in eel—and it was solid. In her neighborhood, we had lunch at Le Chardon, a small restaurant that’s decorated in an eclectic flea-market way with very market-to-table, unfussy dishes—I loved my fresh pea gazpacho. We also had dinner at Le Verre Vole with a friend who lives in the neighborhood, who also gave us a very long list of all her favorites here. (I’ll be completely updating our Paris Black Book this fall with all of these additions and many more we’ve collected this year!)
Speaking of updates, earlier in the summer we spent a couple of days in Paris at the Grand Pigalle in Montmartre, a hotel from the Experimental Group, who I think do a great job (loved their hotels in Biarritz, Venice, Menorca, and their other Paris hotel, Grands Boulevards). The room was small (remember, we are The Overpackers!), but it had a little terrace and was super charming. A highlight was that the kitchen is run by the restaurant Frenchie, which means you get their famous maple syrup and bacon scones for breakfast and can book a table for dinner much more easily! There are so many good new hotels that have opened this year, or ones that are new to me, so we’ll be putting those into that Paris Black Book!
A Man and His Kitchen came out last week! We’ll be doing a book tour, so if you’re anywhere near us on these dates please come say hi to Matt and me! We start in LA at Dante Beverly Hills (at the Maybourne) on Tuesday Oct 17, 5:30-7:30. Montecito Country Mart on Oct 19, 4-6pm. Tailor’s Keep in SF on Friday Oct 20, 6-8pm. Marin Country Mart in front of the Trading Post on Sat Oct 21, 10am-12pm, No/Ma in St. Helena on Oct 21 from 4:30-6pm. DC with Bold Fork Books on Oct 25 from 6-8pm. Atlanta at Sid/Ann Mashburn on November 1, from 5-7pm. If you want more info on any of this, or are planning on coming—leave a message in the comments. And we’re heading to more cities in December so stay tuned. —Y.E.
What’s going on with Delta SkyMiles?
I’ve been a Delta loyalist for a long time–ever since I broke up with Continental/United because we moved to Brooklyn and Newark was no longer convenient. When Clara was little and we didn’t travel as much, I had Silver status, and then later when I was logging miles at Traveler, I got to Platinum. Finally, with all the travel we’ve been doing these last couple of years, I reached the grail: Diamond. Like all Delta members, we were shocked at the recent announcement of their new rules, which mainly favor Delta credit card holders over frequent flyers. It’s weird that we could feel so slighted by a company, but I think the common feeling here, no matter what your status, is betrayal: we were loyal to you, and now you’re not being loyal to us. I literally just bought a ticket to San Francisco on Delta that was so much more expensive than Jet Blue, just so I could work towards keeping my status. Now I regret it. For years, we’ve chosen Delta over other carriers that offer better equipment on certain routes, just to keep our status. How many janky planes we’ve flown transatlantically, and how many better airplane meals we could have had if we’d flown different carriers, like Emirates to Athens. In the meantime, I matched my status with Jet Blue and United; even if it’s only good until the end of this year, I’ll get a chance to compare their programs. But even before this Delta news drop, I was starting to question if this whole membership thing was worth it. I met a crazy point-nerd type traveler on a flight in Greece who doesn’t subscribe to any of them, and only believes in having the correct credit cards and understanding how/when to use them. We’ll be digging into that in another post soon. For now, to help decode the Delta announcement and what it means for all members, our editorial assistant Carly Shea interviewed a few real experts for their take.
What are the most significant changes in Delta's SkyMiles program?
Zach Griff, senior reporter at The Points Guy, summarized, “Delta is making major changes to its SkyMiles loyalty program that basically turns it into a frequent spender program. Instead of awarding status based on how much or how far someone flies, Delta will give status to those who transact the most with the airline. In addition to tracking how much you spend on Delta tickets, you’ll also earn status by spending on an eligible co-branded Delta credit card or by booking hotels, cars or vacations packages through Delta. In addition to changing how you earn status, the airline is also raising the thresholds needed to achieve status to levels that are previously unheard of in the industry*. Finally, Delta is limiting the number of visits that most credit card holders can make to the Sky Club airport lounge.”
Points expert Chris Dong added, “It's going to cost way more money to earn status with Delta—up to 100% more compared to this year. And more egregiously, Delta just increased status requirements at the start of this year, too. For instance, a top-tier Delta Diamond who spent $15,000 in 2022 to earn their status in 2023 won't even be 50% towards the Delta Diamond spending requirement that's set to take effect in 2024 (it will be $35,000). Frequent Delta travelers are not pleased about the changes, as you can imagine.”
So how will qualification work if you have a Delta credit card? Is the minimum spend the same?
Zach Griff answered, “As part of the revamped loyalty program, Delta is changing how you earn status by spending on its credit cards. Going forward, you’ll earn 1 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for every $10 or $20 you spend on an eligible card. [Previously you earned MQDs based on how much you spent on Delta flights, with a threshold of $3000 MQDs for Silver Medallion, the lowest tier; or the MQDs requirement was waived after spending $25,000+ on a Delta SkyMiles AmEx. ] Crunching the numbers shows that it’ll take much more to earn status next year.”
Some airlines are opportunistically matching status. For someone looking to ditch Delta, is this a good choice? Are any airlines offering really great incentives to jump ship?
“In light of Delta’s changes, some airlines are trying to poach disgruntled Delta flyers. This includes Alaska and JetBlue, both of which are offering incredibly lucrative status match promotions to woo these travelers. (Status match lets you get the equivalent status with another airline, then you can use the Delta status until it expires.) American and United also offer status challenge programs where you can try status for a short period with an accelerated path to earning it for a full year.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian recently acknowledged that the changes went a bit too far. The airline promised to walk back some of the changes, but it didn’t give details or a concrete timeline for what it might update. If you’ve been thinking about switching from Delta, now is a great time to move forward with that plan. If not, you may want to wait to hear about Delta’s changes before jumping ship.” - Zach Griff
“A status match can be a great choice if you want to test the waters of another airline program. Carriers such as New York–based JetBlue and Seattle-based Alaska have been attempting to capitalize on the Delta backlash with generous status match opportunities that have launched in recent weeks. Neither company is requiring travelers to fly with the airline to earn status through the end of 2023 (with ways to extend into 2024); only proof of similar Delta status is required.” - Chris Dong
If you don’t have a Delta credit card, should you even bother with building status?
Chris Dong added, “I think the biggest tip from this is more about loyalty overall being a cautionary tale. With the resurgence of travel over the past few years, we know that airlines are making tons of money right now. Delta is selling more first-class seats than it ever has before. And at the same time, for the most part, airlines don't care anymore about how often you fly, they care about how much you spend. My advice is to really evaluate if airline status is worth it and perhaps consider other programs that might work better for you—or to simply shop by price.”
Was this the first nail in the coffin for airline loyalty programs?
Jason Aten, a columnist at Inc, has been closely following Delta’s updates. He replied, “I don't know if it's a nail in the coffin, but I think it definitely represents the airlines rethinking what they mean by loyalty. In the past, the equation seemed simple: You fly a lot on a particular airline and you get certain benefits. Two things changed that. First, airlines tried very hard to keep travelers connected during COVID. The idea was that once they started to travel again, if you kept your status, you were a lot more likely to keep your business with a particular airline. As a result, there were far too many people trying to use a limited set of benefits.
The other thing that happened is that airlines have realized that there are better ways to make money from consumers than selling airline tickets. Partnerships with credit card companies is the most obvious, but Delta has partnerships with Starbucks, Hertz, and Lyft, not to mention hotels. It's not all that surprising that Delta would want to incentivize the behavior that makes it the most money, that's just business. The problem is that the math has changed in a way that makes people feel like they're no longer valued.”
Do you see any silver linings to these changes?
“Certainly, if you are someone who spends a lot of money with Delta, you're going to be treated a lot better than you are right now. Not only will you be competing with fewer travelers for upgrades or other perks, but the airline has said it will be rolling out additional benefits in the future. Also, I do think the new model is a lot more simple than before. People might disagree with the spend levels, and they may chafe at the idea that what Delta really wants you to do is spend money on a co-branded American Express Card, but it's pretty straightforward. That's good because, above all, people want certainty so they can plan accordingly. Expectations really are everything, and there's no question what you can expect from Delta moving forward.” - Jason Aten
*These are the details, bear with us: SkyMiles members need to reach $6000 MQDs (Medallion Qualifying Dollars) for Silver Medallion status, $12,000 MQDS for Gold, $18,000 MQDs for Platinum and a whopping $35,000 MQDs for Diamond. Members will earn $1 MQD per $1 spent on a Delta flight (or a flight booked through Delta but operated by one of their partner airlines). Delta credit card holders have a new advantage with MDQs, earning up to $1 MQD for every $10 spent on a qualifying card, effectively lowering the amount you would have to spend just with Delta. Basically, if you spend $40,000 on your Delta Amex, that would equal $4000 MDQs, so then you’d just have to spend $2000 on Delta flights to reach Silver.
Our favorite Instagram account this week.
Our friend Brooks Reitz shared the best idea for creating audible scrapbooks when traveling.
Hotel de la Boétie, the first hotel project from Swedish designer Beata Heuman, just opened in Paris’ 8th arr., with candy-colored rooms starting at under 300 euro/nt.
The Beverly Hills Hotel & Natalie Bloomingdale’s The SIL launched a capsule collection honoring the hotel's pioneering founder, Margaret J. Anderson, findable in their gift shop through the holidays.
Angama Amboseli, from the team behind everyone’s favorite Angama Mara in partnership with the NGO Big Life, opens next month in Kenya’s Kimana Sanctuary (home of the last “super tusker” elephants), with ten tented suites and stupendous views of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Even if you don’t spend a few days at Jane Austen’s townhouse in Bath or a week at the Jamaican villa where Ian Fleming wrote all 13 James Bond novels, this roundup of rentable writers’ homes from our friends at In Hand just might cure writer's block.
Céline Kaplan, PR veteran and guardian of the French-girl mystique, and Elisabeth Holder, CEO of Ladurée, just launched OOOF (Out of Office Forever) sharing their eclectic finds sourced from travels around the globe.
Peak leaf conditions are approaching in Maine and this Instagram account is posting fall foliage reports each Wednesday until the last leaf drops.
Kayaam House, a boutique beach hideaway on Sri Lanka’s south coast, just launched a series of Ayurvedic retreats based on local healing traditions.
Globe-trotting interior designer Nina Freudenberger climbed the world’s mountains to document great design across five continents for her latest book, Mountain House.