The courtyard at the Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, Paris, France

Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel
Paris, France


Lanvin clutch with gold, rhinestone-encrusted cat-motif handle? Don’t mind if we do. When Rosewood Hotels and Resorts took over management of the palatial 18th-century Hôtel de Crillon in 2013, central to its top-to-toe, €200-million renovation concept was to restore some of the property’s erstwhile function as a social hub for discerning Parisians as well as lavish logement for aristocratic travellers. There can be no doubt that this goal has been achieved.

Today, the hotel’s Rue Boissy d’Anglas entrance is flanked by in-house luxury goods store La Boutique du Palace, on our visit spotlighting said handbag in its shopwindow, and its bijouterie-esque Butterfly Pâtisserie, both deftly integrating the building’s side aspect into the local 8th-arrondissement landscape of exclusive retail streets. Beyond these lie two new hotel dining concepts similarly designed to lure local footfall – Nonos, a high-end reinterpretation of a French grill restaurant, and Comestibles, a rarefied deli-cum-snack bar with a beautiful courtyard terrace.

If the clientele mingling in the patisserie’s cute little tea room was anything to go by, the move has been a big success. Svelte seniors indulging their grandchildren shared space with groups of fiercely chic young women on a break from their shopping missions, vertiginously coiffed dowagers trading high-society gossip, hotel guests debriefing on their spa treatments and a shy teenage couple on a date.

Located on Place de la Concorde, its façade a honey-coloured confection of Corinthian columns and Guillaume Coustou statuary, Hôtel de Crillon has a unique and extraordinary history. Commissioned as one of two twin neoclassical palaces by Louis XV in 1758 as offices of the French state, the building became a hotel in 1909 after it was bought by the Société du Louvre. Once home to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette – as well as the backdrop to their guillotining in 1793 – it continued to magnetise figures of world renown, over the years hosting the likes of Jean Cocteau, Teddy Roosevelt, Sophia Loren, Roger Federer and Madonna. Mary Quant and Pierre Cardin debuted avant-garde collections here, in salons today listed as historic monuments, and the hotel also hosted the legendary fashion event le Bal des Débutantes for 20 years between 1992 and 2012.

Showcasing the work of a small army of architects, designers and creatives at the top of their games, Rosewood’s four-year renovation was unveiled in 2017, and expertly rebalances the hotel’s historic grandeur with a relaxed and thoroughly modern take on luxury travel, a balance uniformly reflected in guest service that’s both impeccable and warmly convivial.

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While you’re Out There
You can taste the Riviera sunshine in Jean-François Piège’s Mediterranean-inspired fare at Mimosa, just around the corner at 2 Rue Royale. Awarded two Michelin stars for his haute-cuisine Grand Restaurant, Piège reveals a more relaxed flair here, evoking balmy coastal cuisine with robust wood-fire-grilled and home-cooked-style dishes. The airy, high-ceilinged space is warming and delicious too, a quietly sumptuous celebration of 1970s design by Dorothée Delaye, and on a sunny day, an al-fresco table on the nautically themed terrace conjures pure Côte d’Azur.

The hotel’s signature spaces – the second-floor salons overlooking Place de la Concorde, grand staircase and ornate stonework exteriors – have been immaculately restored with little modernisation bar the installation here and there of some of the most imposing of the hotel’s 1000-plus mainly contemporary artworks. Its 78 rooms and 46 suites too remain unmistakably old-school Parisian – our grand premier room had the feel of a smart city apartment in miniature, with views through tall windows into the hotel’s handsome Cour d’Honneur internal courtyard from both bedroom and raised vestibule/study space, and a large marble bathroom stocked with bespoke toiletries by heritage brand Officine Universelle Buly 1803.

Of the 46 suites at the Hôtel de Crillon, ten are signature suites each individually reimagined by one of three designers including the late couturier Karl Lagerfeld, who lavished a Versailles-in-monochrome treatment on the two most prestigious spaces, the fourth-floor Grands Appartements (one of which includes a room named for his beloved pet cat Choupette). We begged a peek around the deco-esque Suite Bernstein, named for the frequent guest, US composer Leonard Bernstein, and struggled not to swoon at the views of the Grand Palais and Eiffel Tower from its commodious wraparound terrace.

Back on the ground floor, the dazzling Bar Les Ambassadeurs neatly illustrates the trick Rosewood has so resoundingly pulled off. The double-height space bristles with priceless original antique craftsmanship, from friezes of gambolling cherubs to ornate gilt mouldings to marble wall panels in a rainbow of colours. Adding little more than soft lighting, plush neutral furnishings and a few judicious decorative interventions, Chahan Minassian’s redesign introduces a relaxed vibe that banishes formality, instead evoking an edge of vintage Hollywood decadence amply supported by the innovative menu of bespoke cocktails.

While, based on our exquisitely simple dinner of classic cheese soufflé followed by grilled sea bass with pastis aioli, charred lemon and miso spinach, we would happily eat at Nonos every night, among three other in-house dining options is the Michelin-starred l’Écrin, where chefs create individually tailored five- or seven-course tasting menus around each guests’ sommelier-guided choices from the 2,300 wines on offer.

Another Rosewood enhancement we loved was the pool the group added to the spa which, although in the building’s basement, is flooded with daylight from one of the hotel’s two internal courtyards through a large skylight. Between walls clad in two huge ceramic stoneware reliefs custom-created by the New York-based artist Peter Lane, the long, slim pool is lined with 17,600 fish scale-shaped gold tiles, whose reflected colour gave us the impression of swimming in champagne.

Photography courtesy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

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