In April 2023, I checked into the Grand Premier Room at Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel. Located within the historic Place de la Concorde in Paris’ eighth arrondissement, the 124-room property is set within a 18th-century palace which once served as residence of the Duke de Crillon. The property recently underwent a massive four-year, US$300 million renovation and reopened its doors as a Rosewood hotel in 2017.
The hotel is a 5-minute walk from the famed Champs-Élysées, the scenic Jardin des Tuileries as well as the Rue Saint Honore with its array of luxury fashion stores, while the Louvre museum and Musee d’Orsay are about 15 minutes away on foot. Concorde Metro station is a stone’s throw away, while Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Gare du Nord train station are 30 and 20 minutes away by car respectively.
Notable former guests at the hotel include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Andy Warhol, Orson Welles, Bette Davis and Madonna. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez stayed at the hotel whilst on their honeymoon holiday in 2022.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Glamorous, regal, palatial and historic icon in Paris.
The must-dos (if any): Take a bath using the Buly 1803 shower amenities, have a cake at Butterfly Patisserie or Jardin d’Hiver, enjoy a soak in the hotel’s indoor swimming pool, have a cocktail at Bars Les Ambassadeurs.
HÔTEL DE CRILLON, A ROSEWOOD HOTEL
Originally commissioned in 1758 by King Louis XV with the help of French architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel (the man who designed the Place de la Concorde and the Petit Trianon and opera theater at the Palace of Versailles), the historic building is listed by the French Ministry of Culture as a monument historique. Aside from being the venue where the Franco-American Treaty was signed in 1778 and where the Covenant of the League of Nations was established in 1919, the building was reportedly the place where Marie Antoinette spent afternoons taking piano lessons (and, incidentally, steps away from the very spot at the then-named Place de la Revolution where she was eventually beheaded). The grand palace served as the private residence of the Duke of Crillon and his heirs until 1909 when it was relaunched as a hotel.
In 2013, the hotel commenced a mega-renovation project helmed by architect Richard Martinet (also behind Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris) and Lebanese interior designer Aline Asmar d’Amman (also behind the renovation of the Le Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower as well as the upcoming Rosewood Hotel Bauer Venice). The team received inputs from various collaborators, including the late Karl Lagerfeld who helped design two of the hotel’s Grands Appartements which offer intimate views of the Place de la Concorde. (These suites reportedly cost US$38,000 a night. I managed to gain special access to one of these suites for a tour, but regrettably am unable to share any of my shameless Ben Affleck-apeing selfies.) Unlike fellow Parisian icons Ritz Paris and Hôtel Plaza Athénée which also embarked on renovation projects around the same time with an emphasis on preservation, the new Rosewood hotel managed to update the property’s 18th century grandeur with modern touches of luxury while simultaneously adding to the proceedings a certain residential feel (a quintessential Rosewood quality).
The check-in was certainly not an ordinary one. As my taxi pulled up into the driveway, I was quickly whisked away from the curious on-lookers outside peering through the hotel’s front entrance and brought to a stately reception space that oozed old world European charm with its leather easy chairs, gleaming chandeliers and fireplace structure. After my check-in process was completed with the help of multiple staff member, my butler escorted me to my room, and on the way we passed various distinct residential-style spaces on the ground level adorned with exquisite artworks and objets d’art, including a room inspired by planets and the cosmos which has dramatic wall art pieces and a ceiling resembling a galaxy with streaks of shooting stars. Hotel and security staff stationed throughout the premises ensured we always felt simultaneously safe and watched.
In terms of wellness, Sense, A Rosewood Spa offers experiential showers, a hammam and treatments using products from Sisley and Maison Caulières, the French beauty brand I fell in love with during my Rosewood Hong Kong stay (to the point that I placed an order for shower gels and lotions and arranged for express delivery to the hotel). The well-equipped fitness centre is fitted with Technogym machines. However, the spa’s most notable feature is their dramatic underground indoor heated pool, which is illuminated by a skylight installed within the courtyard garden. Shimmering courtesy of 17,000 gold tiles in the pool and gold-accented celadon walls, the space plays it all luxurious Middle Eastern-tinged fantasy.
GRAND PREMIER ROOM
Overlooking the hotel’s internal garden courtyard, the 42sqm Grand Premier Room delivers a cosy Parisian residential experience, with a comfortable king bed fitted with Rivolta Carmignani linens and French pillows and duvets by Drouault. A hidden flatscreen TV emerges from the table-top at the foot of the bed with a press of a remote control button like magic, and multiple wardrobes ensure you have ample storage space. The clear glass paperweight and stationary box on the dining table both bear the hotel’s image as part of its design, while the birthday balloons tied to the table light had the hotel’s iconic “C” logo – we are duly reminded that we are staying at the Crillon.
The impressive minibar comprises gourmet snacks such as pastilles, nuts and butter shortbreads; Bar Les Ambassadeurs-branded cocktails such as Martini, Manhattan and Negroni; as well as various fine wines which include Champagne Pol Roger and Champagne Deutz Brut Rose. The pantry offers Nespresso coffee as well as tea from Parisian brand Palais des Thés. Elsewhere, the marble bathroom is fitted with double vanities, underfloor heating, a walk-in rainfall shower as well as attached bathtub. Bathroom amenities are courtesy of French perfumery and beauty brand Buly 1803, presented in beautifully designed tubes with robinet caps which resemble antique faucets.
According to reviews of the hotel online, certain guests had received personalized monogrammed pillowcases and hand towels, which was the same experience I had when I stayed at Rosewood Hong Kong. Regrettably, this special touch was missing from my stay, and I later heard from the reception staff that such a benefit did not apply to my room category.
Breakfast is served at Jardin d’Hiver, the hotel’s signature afternoon tea venue which boasts soaring ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows with suitably regal draperies overlooking the garden courtyard as well as a stunning floral centrepiece. Guests with breakfast privileges can choose from a variety of breakfast set menus, save for the premium Chic menu which comes with a mimosa, truffled scrambled eggs and caviar boiled eggs. All sets come with a choice of hot beverage, fresh fruit juice and morning bakeries (baguettines, pain au chocolat, croissant and bakery of the day). The American menu comes with a fresh fruit bowl and eggs of your choice served with two sides, while the Pimp My Breakfast menu comes with (fairly joyless) sugar-free and gluten-free banana pancakes, a bowl of seasonal fruits, avocado toast with viking bread and grapefruit as well as a mini acai bowl with banana, blueberry, granola and coconut. A la carte dishes such as Scrambled Eggs with Caviar and French Toast are also available, although they are not included in the breakfast package.
Past breakfast hours, the beautiful space becomes an ideal space for afternoon tete-a-tetes over cakes and coffee. Special mention goes to the exquisite Strawberry and Rhubarb Craquant, being one of the most memorable pastries I had during my Amsterdam/Paris holiday.
My stay happened to coincide with the opening of Butterfly Patisserie, the first European outlet of the brand after its flagship launch at Rosewood Hong Kong. Designed by interior designer Tristan Auer (also behind Ojo at The Standard, Mahanakhon Bangkok and Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong), the jewellery atelier-inspired gourmet space serves various millefeuilles, tarts, eclairs and flans. The Cottage Cheese Mousse and Pink Grapefruit Heart Finger was a revelation – I never knew fresh and sour grapefruit could be incorporated so beautifully within a creamy cake context. I paired my pastries with the Old-Fashioned Hot Chocolate, a sin-drenched and decadent treat.
Conceptualised by Michelin starred chef Paul Pairet, buzzy French grill concept Nonos par Paul Pairet focuses on traditional French cuisine – you can expect classics such as Beef Tartare, Grilled Foie Gras, Onion Soup and Baba Au Rhum alongside their grill specialities. The brasserie offers an extensive steak collection with both solo selections and portions for sharing (sample: Striploin Thin Cut Wagyu MS 4-5 Kagoshima Japan and Porterhouse Black Angus Creekstone Prime USA 1kg+ respectively). I had the Bone-In Ribeye Angus-Aberdeen (Scotland) 1kg+, which left me with satisfied meat sweat.
Aside from steak, the menu offers mains such as Black Cod Hong Kong, Lobster Fricassee “À L’américaine”, Golden Milk-fed Veal Chop with Jus & Lemon Cream and Oxtail Indonesian “Buntut” Soup, while elsewhere a carving trolley is pushed around offering the Roast of the Day. A sommelier is on hand to offer wine recommendations, but those who seek craft tipples can choose from their selection of cocktails such as Knickerbocker (Hennessy VS, lemon, raspberry, dry curacao) and Whistlepig Old Fashioned (Whistlepig Rye Whiskey 10 year, maple syrup, bacon).
Next to Nonos is Comestibles par Paul Pairet, a delicatessen which offers seafood, charcuterie, smoked fish, sandwiches and cheeses.
Designed by award-winning interior designer Chahan Minassian, Bar Les Ambassadeurs is arguably the hotel’s most jawdroppingly stunning dining concept. Overlooking the Place de la Concorde, the gold-accented and stately bar retains most of its grand original fixtures, from the marble walls and ornate moldings to the painted ceilings and original chandeliers draped with silver chains which cascade dramatically downward into the space. The board game-style cocktail menu (dice are available for the passive and undecided) draws its inspirations from Parisian personalities such as the L’Érudit (“the Scholar”), Les Audacieuses (“the Audacious”), Les Passionnés (“the Passionate”) and L’Épicurien (“the Epicurean”), with each cocktail described based on its specific flavour profile – for instance, the L’Elégant (Squadron 303 The Peatfire vodka, Shochu, Llillet Blanc) is dry and smoked, while the L’Adulé (Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, fig, coconut, miso) is rich and complex.
Rounding up the list of dining concepts is the one Michelin-starred L’Ecrin, which is helmed by Chef Boris Campanella and sommelier Xavier Thuizat. The restaurant’s innovative nature lies in how your menu is crafted and created based on your choice of wine.
Having experienced the majesty that is the flagship Rosewood Hong Kong, I had high expectations for the Hôtel de Crillon, which is definitely positioned as one of Europe’s key Rosewoods. However, I felt strangely underwhelmed as a guest in many ways (perhaps guests who book a suite get a more VIP experience?), and the breakfast experience felt curiously pedestrian for a property of this stature.
Nonetheless, it must be said that their F&B programme is undeniably strong in many aspects – L’Ecrin (which I did not get to try) is highly acclaimed and its key concept novel, while kudos goes to Head Pastry Chef Matthieu Carlin for his exquisite and wonderful creations.
One for the bucket list, and at the very minimum an essential destination for sweets or afternoon tea if you are a luxury hotel lover in Paris.
Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel
10, Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris, France