In 2010, the French government created a better-than-five-star classification for Paris hotels. Now, eight hotels can proclaim “palace” status. Is this the famous arrogance that the French are often described as having – or is it simply a 21st century fact of life?
Hotel de Crillon, at the Place de la Concorde, just off the Champs-Élysées
After reading extensively about the glorious history of Louis XV’s creation and of the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris – I believe the rating is right.
The Crillon is owned by a Saudi Arabian prince named Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. He bought it in 2010 from the American Starwood group for 250 million euros (that’s $285,000,000). Then he closed the doors three years later and spent an additional 200 million euros to begin a renovation that would restore the hotel’s sparkle and reputation. It is now being managed by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, the Hong Kong-based group that runs 19 properties worldwide.
THE NO-EXPENSE-SPARED REDO
“The Hôtel de Crillon is striving to bring a new philosophy of what a palace should be in the 21st century,” says Marc Raffray, general manager, as reported in the Financial Times, 7/9/17 in a piece titled, “New Clothes for a Grande Dame” written by Harriet Agnew. “We also want to bring back Parisians to the hotel,” adds Raffray.
Approaching this hotel is an experience in itself. The magnificent fasçade was commissioned in 1755 by Louis XV who wanted it as a backdrop to a statue of himself on horseback in the Place de la Concorde. He was king of France for 59 years and is best known for contributing to the decline of royal authority that led to the French Revolution in 1789.
The Crillon originally opened as a hotel 98 years ago on March 12, 1909
The Count of Crillon went on to turn the building into a lavish private mansion, where his family lived until the turn of the 20th century. Then it opened as the Hotel Crillon in 1909 or 98 years ago. Obviously, it was time for a refurbishing of this enormous edifice.
One of the most significant changes is the installation of central air conditioning. Also, an entire new floor was dug underground to house a swimming pool and a spa that opens to a private garden. In the lobby, the ceilings were raised three feet to create a greater sense of airiness. The Crillon Hotel had 147 rooms originally, but now has 124 to allow for sumptuous suites. (It should be noted here that the nightly rate for luxury at this level is a jaw-dropping $36,000.) Crillon’s direct competitors on price are the George V and the Ritz (owned by Egyptian, Mohamed Al-Fayed that reopened in 2016). These are the two most expensive hotels in Paris.
A Saudi Arabian prince bought the Crillon Hotel in 2010
CLICK HERE for “The Legacy of the Ritz Paris,” 11/2/16
CLICK HERE for “The Newly Renovated Ritz Paris,” 7/22/16
During the Crillon makeover, 600 different materials were used, including 40 different kinds of marble. A mind-boggling 250 subcontractors were hired. A total of 500 people worked at the site to complete this project.
This hotel has two suites designed by Karl Lagerfeld that include photos of his cat, Choupette.
WHO HAS VISITED THE CRILLON HOTEL?
Paris is the second-most popular destination in Europe. Celebrities from the world of politics, art and movies are recorded in the guest book at the Crillon. Names range from Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, to Charlie Chaplin and Andy Warhol.
The new Gabriel courtyard at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris
Hotel de Crillon’s Jardin d’Hiver (Winter Garden)
For two decades, the hotel has hosted the Bal des Débutantes, where young swans would don magnificent couture gowns – often for the first time – and dance with their fathers. Bruce Willis and his daughter Scout, Alain Delon and his daughter Anouchka, Robert Kennedy and his daughter Kyra were among those who waltzed in the glamorous Marie Antoinette suite overlooking the Place de la Concorde. Every European capital has a celebrated grande dame hotel, but few can match the history of the Crillon.
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