For the first 100 years since it opened, this grand, historic hotel encapsulated elegance and sophistication and managed to stand aloof from its rivals in the city. Closed for a lavish four-year renovation programme, it has now re-opened. Can it win back its place as first choice for the elite?
It’s about as central as you can get – on the north side of the Place de la Concorde, round the corner from the Elysée Palace Palace, the Tuileries gardens and the Champs-Élysées.
Style & character
This historic building dates originally from the 18th century, but only some of the grandest rooms at the front of the hotel survive from this period. The renovation has transformed the rest of the hotel with extraordinary attention to detail. The old black and white marble of the entrance foyer has been replaced with polished stone, which has also been used to line the walls, carved into decorative pilasters and arches.
A conservation architect and four different interior designers worked together, each overseeing a different part of the hotel. It sounds like a recipe for chaos, but a common palette of muted pastels, and the clean lines of the bespoke furniture disguise the transitions. The biggest successes are the two internal courtyards, which have been transformed from rather dingy spaces into leafy gardens with tables from the Winter Garden tearoom, with the brasserie and the spa spilling into them.
Service & facilities
The Crillon re-opened in July 2017, without a soft launch. With about 300 new staff who had never worked in the building before, this was high risk. I stayed on the first two days of the opening, and there were certainly some slownesses and hiccups. But the staff were already handling problems with confidence and consideration, so the signs are good. Facilities include a new Rosewood spa and indoor pool, a hair salon and men’s grooming services.
- Fitness centre
- Room service
- Steam room/hammam
The renovation has reduced the number of rooms from 147 to 124, including 36 suites, and 10 exceptionally large signature suites, including two designed by Karl Lagerfeld. Standard rooms are decorated in muted tones and are quite small, but have very large, very comfortable beds, and they get the small things right. You can turn on the shower without getting soaked by cold water; there are USB charging points by the bed, and the light switches not only operate in an entirely straightforward way, they have labels on them telling you what they do.
Best of all, you can use all the amenities in your bedroom without having to resort to an iPad. And if you do get confused, you can call for help – the Crillon is unique among Paris’ hotels in having butlers assigned to all rooms.
Food & drink
Chef Christopher Hache, who ran the one Michelin-starred Les Ambassadeurs restaurant before the closure, has returned to oversee the new L’Ecrin, a much smaller dining room that seats only 22. Again, I was among the first to eat there on its opening evening, so too early to judge how things will settle down, but a tasting of the 12-course menu (12 courses €260 [£229]; seven courses €195 [£172]) included some hits and some misses. I especially liked the tomato Bavaroise, beautifully composed of four different types of tomato; and a mushroom dish (Champignon de Paris), slow cooked for 14 hours.
There’s some theatre too – a mini cointreau souffle in a glass, which, surrounded by a gentle flames, rises slowly and elegantly before your eyes. The Brasserie d’Aumont, for day-to-day dining, serves a short, classic French menu, and is also the breakfast room – there no buffet, but a choice of menus. Again, it’s very expensive, with a continental breakfast coting €49 (£43).
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