The Australian - Wish Magazine - - HOTELS -

When the Ho­tel de Crillon closed for ren­o­va­tions in 2013 the project was ex­pected to take two years. It took more than four years and cost a re­ported €200 mil­lion ($310m), mak­ing it one of the most an­tic­i­pated ho­tel open­ings in Paris since, well, the pre­vi­ous year when the Ritz Paris emerged from a ma­jor over­haul.

Paris is one of the most com­pet­i­tive ho­tel mar­kets in the world and its grand es­tab­lish­ments have one by one shut their doors for ren­o­va­tions over the past decade to bring their ameni­ties up to date (air­con­di­tion­ing wasn’t a given in many of its five-star es­tab­lish­ments) and to bet­ter com­pete with the new Asian chains (Penin­sula, Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Shangri-La and Raf­fles) that, quelle hor­reur, were do­ing a bet­ter job of run­ning Parisian ho­tels than the French were.

One of the last to go through such a trans­for­ma­tion was the Ho­tel de Crillon and, given its po­si­tion on the Place de la Con­corde and its sto­ried his­tory, ex­pec­ta­tions were high. The build­ing that houses the ho­tel dates from 1770 when it was built by King Louis XV for the Duke d’Au­mont. It be­came the home of the Duke de Crillon in 1788 and was con­fis­cated dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion. It was even­tu­ally re­turned to the Crillon fam­ily, then opened as a ho­tel in 1909. Marie-An­toinette once took pi­ano lessons in the sa­lon that still bears her name and is now a sig­na­ture suite of the ho­tel. The covenant of the League of Na­tions was signed here in 1919 and an end­less list of celebri­ties, politi­cians and roy­alty have stayed here over the years.

When I first stayed at the Ho­tel de Crillon about a year be­fore it closed its doors, the great and the good had moved on to other, newer, lux­ury ho­tels in Paris. My im­pres­sion of it then was that re­gard­less of the com­pe­ti­tion from new en­trants to the mar­ket, the ho­tel looked dog-tired and was in des­per­ate need of mod­erni­sa­tion. The her­itage­listed façade is un­changed – it’s just a lot cleaner – but in­side, every el­e­ment has been trans­formed.

The trans­for­ma­tion re­quired no fewer than five de­sign firms. The restora­tion of the façade was over­seen by ar­chi­tect Richard Martinet, while the in­te­ri­ors were cre­ated by four Paris-based de­sign­ers: Tristan Auer, Cha­han Mi­nas­sian, Cyril Vergniol and Aline As­mar d’Am­man. While so many cre­atives on one project might usu­ally spell de­sign dis­as­ter, the re­sult is an ex­trav­a­gant re­fur­bish­ment (40 types of mar­ble have been used) that en­hances the 18th-cen­tury ori­gins of the build­ing while si­mul­ta­ne­ously mak­ing it feel con­tem­po­rary.

The num­ber of gue­strooms has been re­duced from 147 to 124, which in­cludes 36 suites and 10 ex­cep­tion­ally large sig­na­ture suites, two of them de­signed by Karl Lager­feld. The stan­dard rooms, which are gen­er­ously sized, are dec­o­rated in muted tones with spa­cious mar­ble bath­rooms and very large and very com­fort­able beds. A new cen­tral court­yard has been cre­ated to al­low more nat­u­ral light into the in­ter­nal rooms and there is a new out­door din­ing area.


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