I ventured to Paris for the first time a little more than 20 years ago, and during that trip I found myself standing in front of one of the world’s most iconic hotels: the legendary Hotel De Crillon. Commissioned by King Louis XV in 1758, this palace with its neoclassical facade and architecture, was designed to host the world’s great ambassadors and then later became the long time private mansion of the illustrious family of the Counts of Crillon. (That would be a great title for a rock band – but I digress). As part of its dazzling history it was transformed into a luxury palace hotel in 1909, and has been the Gorgeous Pearl of Paris and renowned Grandam in the world ever since.
I walked into the opulent yet refined beauty of the hotel’s Les Ambassadeurs Bar that day 20-ish years ago, looking decidedly unfortunate in my typical American tourist garb, and immediately felt out of place. Not in the tiniest because they were rude or snooty; they were just the opposite, lovely and welcoming! I looked around in awe, discreetly, and left, but I made a vow to myself then and there, that I would return someday and be able to afford to stay in this glorious palace hotel!
I know it may sound silly to many, but as a complete and utter luxury travel-oholic, who is from pretty impoverished beginnings, this represented my Cinderella story. So when I found myself, quite accidentally, traveling through Paris on the very eve of the Crillon’s re-opening after a four year long renovation, I was beyond over the moon at the chance to be one of the first to stay and experience this legendary Empress!
The design team and architects found a gorgeous, delicate balance between transformation and conservation of the historically protected hotel, creating an innovative combo of opulent traditional French spirit and soulful contemporary design, with rich and sophisticated interiors.
Stepping back in the Les Ambassadeurs Bar was a magical moment, its design is jaw-dropping! Its sensual yet energetic environment is a magnetic draw for a mix of celebs, diplomats, royalty, artists and fashionistas. It’s a vibrant entertainment hub with dynamic craft cocktails, a delicious menu and live music, all topped off with a caviar cabinet for those who wish to complement their visit with a range of caviar selections! I was trying to keep my fawning enthusiasm in check, but internally I felt like one of those photos of teen girls at a Beatles concert!
We checked into our luxurious and spacious suite where the beds are so sumptuous it’s like sleeping on clouds. The room and its amenities are fantastic, with Crillon’s private label, perfectly pre-mixed cocktails displayed in what look like crystal perfume bottles, which our butler poured for us as we settled in.
A quick tour of this magnificent hotel, brought us to the pool- its design is whimsical and stunning, with the glass atrium ceiling allowing in natural light that glints off of the silver, fish scale pool tiles and antiqued glass mirrors. The space is beautifully highlighted by a fireplace and chandeliers.
Our dinner that evening was in the outdoor courtyard of Brasserie D’Aumont, that serves traditional French brasserie cuisine with a modern twist. The Crudo bar is a creative feature with an array of ready to eat selections from the sea including unique breeds of oysters. The service was fantastic, and the scene is set with elegant sofa seatings surrounded by climbing jasmine vines and the gentle sounds of water from the fountains under the open Parisian sky.
Next time, (and there will be a next time!) I will plan further in advance to make sure I secure a coveted table at The Michelin starred chef Christopher Hache’s restaurant, L’Ecrin. With only 27 seats, it is a romantic space with refined contemporary decor. The chef invites diners for a culinary journey of inventive cuisine at this gastronomic restaurant, where they have crafted a culinary experience including traditional dishes modernized in a way that is exciting, surprising and caters to international foodies from across the globe. (Sighs wistfully!)
If you’re just stopping through and don’t plan to stay, you could experience this majestic Hotel at the best place for tea time, Jardin D’Hiver. Famed Master pastry Chef Jerome Chaucesse, creates savory finger food and exquisite signature desserts with exceptional champagne pairings and a collection of niche teas.
I wish I had more time, but alas, the next day my pumpkin to carriage to palace experience would come to an end, and turn into a plane that would carry me home. They even have the most magnificent service of all time that whisks you to the front of every line at the airport including security and customs- worth its weight in gold for a princess like takeoff! You don’t even have to take off your glass slippers!
This spectacularly transformed hotel offers incomparable luxury that, as the hotel perfectly sums …”Culminates in an emotional crescendo…Elegantly expressing the Spirit of Paris.”