Hôtel de Crillon
Since inception, the Hôtel de Crillon has been the epitome of a luxury hotel in Paris. Its status is no stranger to the fact that it is, firstly, a monument having borne witness to the Enlightenment, built on one of the most exemplary Parisian sites, in terms of architecture and heritage: the Place de la Concorde. The current restoration, conducted by the architectural agency AFFINE DESIGN, is recovering its reputation which is intimately linked to the history of France.
Its facade, classified under heritage law, is one of the notable features of the Place Louis XV, so named when it was designed for the monarch by the famous French architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel. It was on this site, in 1763, that Louis-François Trouard built the hôtel d’Aumont, which, in 1788, François-Félix Crillon acquired and renamed. It was bought by a hotel company in 1907, along with the two other mansions that follow it in rue Boissy d’Anglas, and became, in 1910, the Hôtel des Voyageurs, a prestigious chapter in the Paris of the early twentieth century. The three buildings underwent extensive renovation, conducted by Hippolyte Destailleur, realising the facades along the course using the rules and elements of the style of classical architecture of Gabriel. Destailleur was, like his contemporaries, well-versed in the art of reproducing the décors of the eighteenth century. He replaced, with reinterpreted copies, the original decorations of the Hôtel de Crillon, which were dismantled, sold and scattered around the world, especially in the Wrightsman Collection in New York and the Italian Embassy in Paris. Because of its exceptional location, the Hôtel de Crillon has attracted an exceptional clientele, including royalty and heads of state, who have frequented the first floor salons, which were classified as historic monuments in 1964. Since then, the palace has been bought by varying financial groups, the ultimate acquisitor being a member of the Saudi royal family. The work of which the Hôtel de Crillon is subject, today, has, as corollary, the reconquest of the illustrious Parisian palaces confronted with, over the past fifteen years, the development of premium luxury hotels internationally. The list is already long, in Paris, of those who have, like the Four Seasons George V, the hôtel de la Tremoille, or the Peninsula Hotel Paris, regained their former nobility, or, like the Shangri-La Paris, entered the inner circle. All these luxury establishments have, among them, one element in common: their architecture has been renovated and restored by AFFINE DESIGN. With the project of the Hôtel de Crillon, this architectural agency has touched the quintessence of Parisian luxury hotels, whose historical weight makes their implementation a delicate matter. Once again, Richard Martinet has proceeded, alongside his team, with a radioscopy of the building to understand the origins, the successive modifications and the buried treasures that merit being updated. This information will nourish the paradigm, to be reinvented, in order to respond to the aspirations and lifestyles of today’s clients, accustomed to international palaces. A methodology which lacks the ability to produce an excessive complexity, conversely, it develops an interaction whose sobriety becomes a performance. The state of the place, determines, in general, the thread of the project. In the case of the Hôtel de Crillon, the main façade remains the centrepiece and dominant image, but the institution itself suffers from a tangle of morsels of architecture to be put in order. Another observation: the labyrinthine aspect of the place devalues and reduces access to a number of areas, notably the second courtyard which will be recuperated by the creation of an immense gallery, creating a perspective from the majestic entrance. This masterful addition in the AFFINE DESIGN project will create both a strong spatial unity on the ground floor and a legibility of circulation that were lacking. This new backbone, tangent to the former passage cochère, will govern, at the same time, the concierge and the reception areas that will be set in the heart of the palace. No contemporary intervention will be visible on the exterior or courtyard walls, nor on those of the interior course equally classified as heritage. As for the new gallery, its architectural neutrality will enable a smooth integration into the historic architectural elements. The restoration of the three salons on the first floor is being led by Benoît Maffre, heritage architect, who has identified the elements dating from 1763 and those replaced by copies in 1910. This precious work of inventory has contributed to the preliminary studies of photos and paintings, but it has also allowed the identification of different places where historical pieces are preserved. Finally, poring over documents deposited in the National Archives, as well as in situ analyses, the agency AFFINE DESIGN, has been able to understand how Destailleur had composed his pastiches. The famous restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, will be, meanwhile, restored to its early twentieth-century state, with its polychrome marbles and allegories dedicated to various trades that have contributed to the realisation of Hôtel de Crillon. The common areas of the ground and first floor will be 70% restored. However, the corridors, rooms and exceptional suites belong to a more contemporary vocabulary, developed by three teams of interior designers. Finally, to transform the Hôtel de Crillon into a palace of the twenty-first century, two basement levels will be excavated under the course to accommodate not only the functional services (kitchen, reservations, back office), but also a health centre (spa) and a swimming pool with natural lighting provided by a skylight set in the second courtyard . On the front of the Hôtel de Crillon a small underground gallery will be constructed, with direct access to the parking lot of the Place de la Concorde. This hallway, a few metres long, will lie carefully alongside the foundations of the Hôtel de Crillon, themselves classified as heritage. The rebirth of this gem is planned to occur in 2016.