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It’s possible I love the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris because I have never been able to afford to stay there, so it remains a mythical hotel in my mind. However, there are many hotels I can’t afford to stay at in Paris and I don’t enjoy them nearly as much. Maybe I love the Hotel de Crillon because I’m brave enough to walk in for a glass of champagne there, and the bar staff in the little piano bar in the back never make me feel like an impostor I may or may not be.
The Crillon’s piano bar is a plush, sometimes friendly bar with a mirrored-mosaic bar designed by Sonia Rykiel. Over the years I have met:
1) One large Swedish biker who had a custom made Maserati outside the hotel doors.
2) One French journalist named Wilfred who divided his time between Paris and Miami.
3) One champagne distributor for both the Hôtel de Crillon and the Maurice (an equally swanky Parisian hotel just down the street, which is lovely but somehow never touches my heart the same way.)
Here are four other reasons why I love the Hôtel de Crillon:
1) Because Marie Antoinette took piano lessons there when it was the private home of the Duke de Crillon.
2) Because she lost her head just outside, on the Place du Concorde during the French Revolution.
3) Because Jake, in Hemingway’s Sun Also Rises, gets stood up by Lady Brett Ashley here, so he stays and writes letters on the hotel stationary, hoping that the impressive paper will make up for the not-very-good letters.
4) Because even if you don’t meet a biker, a journalist or a champagne distributor, there is usually someone you can eavesdrop on, and if not, it is still the Hôtel de Crillon.
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Red velvet chairs, a sparkly bar and a biker? Weirdly wonderful!