Hotel de Crillon: still the gold standard for luxury in Paris
True to Rosewood form, Hotel de Crillon masters that middle ground: luxxy not stuffy, resplendent yet relevant, defly choreographed without feeling clinical or corporate. It doesn’t stray too far into macaroon and swirly Louis XVI furniture territory, yet still feels perfectly Parisian, with its opulent fireplaces, patisserie and locals nursing glasses of wine in the courtyards, dissecting the day through clouds of smoke.
Really, it’s the ultimate treat, the honeymoon to top all honeymoons or a blow-the-budget weekend in the city of lights.
Where is it?
In plum position, on the corner of the Tuileries gardens, where the Musée de L’Orangerie and, at the other end, The Louvre beckon. The hotel faces onto Place de la Concorde, where Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, along with over a thousand members of the aristocracy, were guilloteened during the revolution. Most of the city’s landmarks are within walking distance, including the Champs Elysées and Opera Garnier – Paris is your oyster, though there’s also a cracking oyster corner at Comestibles in the hotel’s courtyard.
A series of palatial salons dressed in gold, marble and velvets are brought to heel with smooth contemporary lines and clever lighting. Plush sofas, armchairs and coffee table formations soften the otherwise formal rooms, with an ever-changing collection of art scattered with the considered eye of a modern collector. Lebanese architect Aline Asmar d’Amman teamed up with four different designers in a bid to cling onto the building’s illustrious 18th-century history, as the once noble abode of the Count de Crillon then, for over a century, a beloved hotel, particularly in the resplendent Bar Les Ambassadeurs with its renaissance cloud-painted ceiling, soaring antique mirrors and gilt galore. They have gently (and tastefully) eased the spaces into the 21st century with modern gloss.
In the light-filled Jardin d’Hivers overlooking a statue-dominated courtyard, you’ll find an encased Baccarat Elephant with whisky thimbles hanging like invitations from its saddle – a gift to the late Duke. At check in, you’re ushered into a decadent pocket-sized salon that feels more cigar-room or library than lobby, with curios resting on top of coffee table books, fruit piled high and an elaborate antique clock perched on a marble fireplace. Easy-going music wafts through the communal spaces, the restaurants and marble coridoors, and well-dressed movers and shakers hobknob over venoisserie and coffee, or swan in through the hotel’s topiary-framed doors laden with Hermes and Dior shopping bags.
Food & drink
How refreshing: a Parisian Palace hotel that has looked beyond the extensive and often punitive tasting menu, where moussey, frothy, alchemic takes on food seem to pass as the epitome of luxury. Hotel de Crillon feels more plugged in, with star chef Paul Pairet (the mastermind behind Shanghai’s 3 Michelin starred Ultraviolet) elevating simple, hearty and delicious French brasserie classics to giddy heights at Nonos – the hotel’s new Manhattan-meets-Paris joint.
Here, locals and guests convene amid a subdued palatte of beiges and greys for cheese soufflé, snails with garlic and parsley, lobster fricasee and great hunks of charred beef that slice like butter and wink seductively under an uplit brassy ceiling. Don’t miss the puddings here – sinfully delicious chocolate souffles, chocolate mousse set into Manhattan glasses, nutella pots. Nonos’ little sister, Comestibles, is the ‘Manger sur le pouce’ spot (speedy eating spot) – another Paul Pairet creation. Here, oysters, plates of charcuterie and gourmet-spins on the classic croque monsieur can be eaten at a deli-style bar, in a pretty, plant-filled courtyard or in the Butterfly Room.
For a grander affair, pull up a chair (or have one of the immaculately dressed team do that for you) at the Jardin d’Hiver, where hearty ceasar salads can be eaten alongside full-throttle burgers, where trainers mingle with stilettos and detox juices with glasses of Pol Roger. Those after the full bells-and-whistles dîner can pass through the Jardin d’Hiver and turn left into a secret Michelin starred’s eaten den, where the menu takes its cue from the wine and murano sconces line the walls. Sweet-toothed guests will relish the Butterfly Room’s selection of mille feuille, madeleine, flan and chocolate – scoffed (in a civilised manner) in a pocket-sized room decorated like a boudoir, or, boxed up and sent home to off-set any spousal or sibling envy.
Breakfast at Hotel de Crillon is an occasion worth getting up for, with an au fait menu mixing Parisian classics (venoisserie, orange juice, crêpes) with global favourites (avocado on Viking bread toast, gluten-free banana cakes, acai bowls). This is served in the Jardin d’Hiver or the grand Bar Les Ambassadeurs – a lavish, palatial room with a renaissance-style ceiling and, come, evening, first-rate cocktails.
Beside the food and the jewellery box interiors, Hotel de Crillon is well-known for its spa. A subterranean refuge in the chaotic heart of Paris, ‘Sense, A Rosewood Spa’ lowers the shoulders several inches the moment the lift’s Narnia-like doors slide open or once you’ve drifted down its white stone staircase. Therapists work their magic on weary backs, patisserie-puffed faces and sleep-deprived eyes with a little help from Sisley, Evidens de la Beauté and nature-first Maisons Caulières.
Guests float from the edges of a scaley, gold-leaf pool to the sauna and steam room, then back again to flick the pages of coffee table books in front of the large marble fireplace, or to dip home-made biscuits into herbal tea while supine on a creamy sun bed. All the venoisserie can be worked off on the technogym machines or with a morning jog through the Tuileries.
Who needs it when endless museums, walks along the Seine amid all the Hausseman splendour and Rue St Honorés swanky shops all lie on Hotel de Crillon’s doorstep?
From pastel-pretty Marie Antoinette-style boudoirs to more subdued, camel-on-coffee design dens, Hotel de Crillon’s rooms all ooze Parisian pied-à-terre appeal. Even the most compact don emormous beds, parquet flooring, an army of pillows and splashes of modern art and photography. Aside from the marble bathrooms, wood panelling and, in some rooms, diddy balconies with tables for an aperitif, it’s the little touches that lift them into a dizzying league. There’s the pretty crystal bowl filled with bath salts, the clearly marked lights switches to save the discombobulating late-night, bleary-eyed light show, the sink-an-inch slippers and glass encased patisserie treats on arrival.
Objets d’art crown piles of Parisian coffee table books and techy touches such as a bathroom mirror TV and Bluetooth sound systems satiate the affluent new nomads. Of the 124 rooms, 36 are suites (space is a serious commodity in Paris), and 10 louche signature suites edge closer to the building’s opulent past – one inspired by Marie Antoinette herself, two designed by Karl Largerfeld and another, the Suite Duc de Crillon, peacocking the Crillon family’s artworks and penchant for un petit excess.
Honeymooners, bon viveurs, magazine editors, film directors, actors, politicians, lucky travel journalists…
Rates start from £1,665 per night for a double room on a bed and breakfast basis. For more information, please visit rosewoodhotels.com
Book your trip with Eurostar, eurostar.com