Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, Paris, was built 1758 for Louis XV, and the gal wonders what he would have thought of Annie Morris’s balls sculpture, above, that graces the stairwell closest to the main place de la Concorde entrance of this outstanding luxury hotel? After four years’ renovation, there are, indeed, many surprises. The Michelin-starred Les Ambassadeurs restaurant is now a stunning bar, reconceptualised by designer Chahan Minassian, its original ceilings and walls painted and gilded, its glorious chandeliers today festooned with hanging chains. (There is a new gastronomic restaurant, L’Ecrin, bijou, only eight tables and chef Christopher Hache has transferred his star.)
It is honestly almost as if the private owner of what is now a 124-room hotel, and its Rosewood supremos and its GM, Marc Raffray, deliberately wanted controversy. While I love the public areas in general, I am not so sure about a sculpture, under glass, that on close inspection proves to be feathers of giant birds twisted and rolled to look like knitting wool. I do adore the elevator cabins, designed by Tristan Auer. One of my favourite areas is Brasserie d’Aumont, with a horseshoe-shaped bar where oysters are shucked and pâtés en croute sliced, and around at marble tables, sit masses of chic Parisiens enjoying, from the brasserie-style menu, oysters from the English Channel, or Mediterranean – next time I will revert to my favourite Gillardeau – and continue to such a classic as sole meunière. To show individualism, choose one of the menu’s Japanese whiskies, even the Suntory Yamazaki 25ans, at €220 for five centilitres.
My Cyril Vergnol-designed suite, as a video below shows, was liberally filled, not quite to over-kill, with such goodies as a cocktail trolley, and a minibar that had, on top, a copy of The Craft Cocktail Compendium by Warren Bobrow, the Cocktail Whisperer. Next to this were five 50ml bottles, wax-sealed, from Avantegarde Spirits in Cologne: I had a Martini Cocktail, The Old Fashioned, The Manhattan, The Negroni and The Rusty Nail. If all this did not appeal there were also 350ml bottles of general spirits. But there was no time for all that as I had the pleasure of visiting two of the Karl Lagerfeld designer suites. Suite 401 was my outright winner, overlooking place de la Concorde, its squash court-sized pale taupe bedroom next to a slightly smaller bathroom dominated by a blue and white marble tub hewn from a single two-ton slab. All the Lagerfeld rooms, by the way, have giant fashionista photos, by Mr Karl of course, showing decidedly louche 17th century couples. Another surprise: pull apart two halves of a mirror-backed bookshelf and you find a secret room, for getting away from crowds. There is even a set of weights in there, for solitary workouts.
For main exercise, facilities are superb. I love the pool, 40 feet long with mermaid-feel walls (the designer here is, once again, Chahan Minassian, which shows his versatility). The adjacent Technogym, which has equipment far more modern than in so many Paris luxury hotels, and fortunately opens 24/7 so I was able to work out at four. Yes, 4 a.m. as I had a pre-dawn departure. At 5.15 exactly my superb room service arrived, brought exactly as wanted, and so stylish, Rivolta linens, Bernardaud china, Christofle cutlery, and great coffee (I had already made one cup, using my Nespresso machine, which uniquely is covered in leather). These are the kinds of details that add up to total luxury. NOW SEE VIDEOS OF A NOCTURNAL – IE. NO GUESTS – LOBBY WALK, AND SUITE 311, AND KARL LAGERFELD SUITE 401