Being the creative director of Condé Nast Traveler, I am lucky to get to travel many places, reporting on and photographing the most beautiful hotels, resorts, beaches…you get the idea…in the world. In the early summer, we did a photo shoot at the Hôtel de Crillon, before it even opened, and that was a real treat. Who doesn’t love a behind-the-scenes tour?! Especially when the hotel is essentially one big one! But even better, I got to return once it opened to experience it in full effect. It is so spectacular, probably the most thoughtful renovation I’ve ever experienced. Because of its history, of course, there was plenty that couldn’t be touched, but rather than be afraid of making a statement of who/what the Crillon is in today and the future world, bold moves were made—powerful, yet sensitive. There are nods to the past and future, and creative layers—that you might notice, or not.
From the moment you walk in the grand entrance, you notice the staff wardrobe. Each position has a different one. The hotel’s management hired young French accessories designer Hugo Matha, who created some 90-plus different wardrobes. Velvet slippers for the concierges, tuxedo jackets and shirts for the waiters in the brasserie, and white jackets with black trim for the bartenders. I wanted to steal the housekeepers’ bag that they keep their cleaning supplies in.
It was an incredible opportunity to be able to see most of the historic rooms. I’ll start with the Karl Lagerfeld Suite, which has a tub constructed of a single piece of marble (It’s ruined me for life!).
Next up, the Suite Marie-Antoinette, envisioned by designer Aline d’Amman as an homage to women designers: the bathroom dedicated to Andree Putnam, living room stools made with Chanel fabric, and a pearl-encrusted desk drawer.
Suite Bernstein is on the top floor, and has the most incredible terrace views out over the Place de la Concorde.
One of my favorite “bijoux” suites is La Choupette, the suite designed by Karl Lagerfeld in honor of his cat.
But the suite I moved into for several days—and mourned the day I had to leave it—was the Duc de Crillon. With its gilded everything, double-height ceiling, fireplace, and historical details everywhere (and that’s just the living room), I couldn’t have been happier.
The bathroom was equally luxe, but a Zen version of it. There is nothing better than drinking a Negroni (they have their own house-made in a bottle in the room) and having a bubble bath, with the bath products from Officine Universelle Buly, which are exclusive to Hôtel de Crillon.
But on to the public spaces, which anyone can, and should, look at and enjoy:
The Brasserie d’Aumont is so good—simple, elevated French—we sat outside in the courtyard, and not only enjoyed our oysters and salads, we also loved the people watching.
When it comes to small-plate, Michelin-caliber food, I usually turn my nose up, preferring to tuck into something simple. So I was skeptical of L’Ecrin. I was so wrong. Starting with the place setting when we sat down, I was confused: Why was there a wine glass with no base on it set in front of me? As I quickly learned, from the sommelier, that Marie Antoinette didn’t like to have a base on her Champagne glass because she didn’t want to set it down. This was a nod to that. Every single thing we ate had a story—but it wasn’t just a narrative of a dinner—the food we ate was actually delicious, and not heavy with butter and cream. The wine pairings were again, an education. When we met the head chef, he told us how he had taken advantage of the Crillon being renovated for four years to travel the world and work in other kitchens, his favorite being his time in Peru. It was a night where we ate, drank, and learned so much. We won’t soon forget. – Yolanda Edwards