The building that today houses the iconic Parisian Palace ranked Hôtel de Crillon was constructed in 1758, after King Louis XV commissioned the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel to build two neoclassical palaces in what would become the Place de la Concorde.
The two identical buildings, separated by the rue Royale, were initially designed to be offices of the French state. The eastern building, Hôtel de la Marine, housed the headquarters of the French Navy until 2015. The western building that would become the Hôtel de Crillon was first occupied by Louis Marie Augustin, Duke of Aurmont, a famous patron of the arts. The building was further enhanced by its second owner, the architect Louis-François Trouard, who had the Salon de Aigles built in 1775.
In 1788, François Félix de Crillon (son of Louis de Crillon, Duke of Crillon) acquired the building for his home. However, the government of the French Revolution confiscated the property in 1791. During this period, the home was used by King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. Two years later in 1793, King Louis XVI as well as Queen Marie Antoinette were guillotined in the Place de la Concorde directly in front of the building.
Eventually, the building was returned to the Crillon family, whose descendants lived there for more than a century until 1904. In 1907, the Société du Louvre purchased the property and transformed it into a hotel. The building then underwent a two-year refurbishment under the supervision of architect Walter-André Destailleur. This included the purchase of two neighbouring buildings on the rue Boissy d’Anglas to enlarge the property. The new Hôtel de Crillon opened on 12 March 1909.
The hotel housed members of the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, including President Wilson’s key advisor, Edward House. From 1992 to 2012, the hotel was the venue of the Bal des débutantes, an annual fashion event which was cited by Forbes in 2005 as one of the world’s ten best parties.
In March 2013, Hôtel de Crillon was acquired by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mitab bin Abdullah bin Abdelaziz al-Saud (reportedly for EUR 250 million) and it was closed for a series of spectacular restorations, renovations and refurbishments with a stunning investment estimated at EUR 250 million.
It came as a surprise in 2016 when Hong Kong owned Rosewood Hotels was announced as THE long term third party operator of the hotel, especially considering that Rosewood Hotels had been operating only two hotels in Europe, most of its portfolio being in the U.S.
The ‘rush’ to open in Paris, motivated Rosewood Hotel Group to propose unrealistically high targets and contractual terms which entailed something unseen in the luxury hospitality sector, which is the operator to pay the owner for all unreached targets. These terms were also worsened by the ongoing crisis which the Parisian luxury hotel sector has been suffering in the past year.
Today the hotel ‘celebrated’ 2 years from re-opening with no Managing Director or General Manager in place (the previous one has already been announced to take over at The RITZ Paris more than a month ago) and under a different owner, Qatari Diar.
Although being undoubtedly, the finest luxury property under the Rosewood Hotels brand, Hotel de Crillon has been chaotically run, without benefiting from the multi-million dollar marketing budget splash which was allocated for the opening of Rosewood Hong Kong two months ago – a hotel fully owned and operated by the Rosewood Hotel Group.
Sadly, the Parisian icon which had been splendidly renovated and restored, has remained almost ‘invisible’, many other Palace ranked hotels in Paris not even including it in their comp set. The management put drastic restrictions to media access, which contributed further to this ‘isolation’.
Hopefully under the highly experienced Qatari Diar ownership, the hotel will fast regain its reputation and prestige, both among foreign travellers but also Parisians, and rank among the top three luxury hotels of the French Capital. Mentioned should be mentioned that among several professionally set-up entities, Qatar owns some of the world’s finest luxury hotels (over 140).
With the re-opening, the hotel most certainly attracted exceptionally talented hospitality professionals and it is only with their determination and strength that the hotel can look ahead to celebrating a happy third anniversary. It is the people that deserve all the praise!
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