Luxury Redefined at Hôtel de Crillon
The renowned Hôtel de Crillon, right next door to the American Embassy in Paris, is about to complete a two-year renovation. Slated to reopen next year, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world will present a bright new face in order “to meet its clients’ highest standards. Really?
Far be it from me to question the tastes and/or decisions of those who cater to those who likely spend as much on a stay at this magnificent hotel as many would spend on six months’ worth of mortgage payments! That disclaimer aside, you can be certain that the Crillon had not fallen into musty disrepair! Rather, like a bored homemaker shoving furniture about or painting a wall to freshen the home; the new management wanted to make a dual statement of refined continuity and techno-luxury progress.
I stand among many who appreciate the Hôtel de Crillon and, in fact, have some very fond memories of brushing up against her opulent presence. Many years ago during my first visit to Paris, my good friend once again demonstrated ‘the world is my oyster’ style. Dressed for a casual walk and a bit sodden with the Paris mist, she insisted we duck into the hotel for a visit to the restroom and gift shop. So discreetly imposing was the grand edifice, I balked at the thought quickly theorizing that such a visit would equal attending an upscale event in shorts and flip flops!
No, no, my friend assured me, and we entered … with her darling dog in the lead. A uniformed gentleman nodded with an appropriate smile, and we traversed the marble foyer and descended elegant stairs to the toilette. Certainly quite serviceable and inviting, the rest room nonetheless did not equal that of The Ritz; though I don’t intend to cast aspersions.
Then, we enjoyed moments of hushed French-style conversation with the gracious attendant in the gift shop, as we looked among porcelain keepsakes, sumptuous leather goods and light-as-air silk scarves. Despite my initial misgivings, it was a delightful experience … and certainly memorable.
I had no idea that the genteel tenacity of my friend offered such benefits! Well indoctrinated now to the Crillon’s egalitarian hospitality, on another occasion I waited to meet my friend in the hotel lobby….that famous, gleaming lobby with quietly efficient hosts and elegant guests. I marveled at the thin, fine leather boots of a statuesque young woman attached to the arm of a quite dignified gentleman.
Imagine, then, my sorrow on reading about a tourist who had the same thought to take a peek inside, perhaps a good ten years after our adventure. As this lady approached the door, a guard at the front explained that only hotel guests could enter in order to protect the privacy of their guests.
Now, I only wish we had stopped in for a glass of wine, as my daughter and I did one evening at The Ritz; but that is another story, and I am well satisfied with my Crillon memories at the moment. In fact, even ambling along the sidewalk in front of the hotel is quite an experience. Elegantly uniformed livery men oversee a stable of sleek, black vehicles, every ready to spring into action for in-or outbound guests. A stately tall black man leaves the hotel in what appears to be the attire of African royalty. There is an indescribable hum of service and wealth and privilege that is interesting to see, a window on a world most of us do not encounter … on a regular basis.
Enjoy the big and little moments of your life. And, as they say, “act as if” and perhaps you will be welcomed into otherwise hallowed ground!
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