FrontRunner: Trunk Palace
At Paris’ Hôtel de Crillon (+126.96.36.199.01, www.crillon.com), the elephant in the room cannot be ignored. The hotel’s Baccarat crystal sculpture, originally created for the Exposition Universelle in 1878 and given to the Crillon in 1990, now occupies a marble platform at the bar in the Jardin d’Hiver (winter garden), a newly renovated space adjacent to the hotel’s Les Ambassadeurs restaurant where guests lounge on sofas and sip cocktails, coffee, and tea.
Interior designer Sybille de Margerie repositioned the Jardin’s elephant as part of a $25 million renovation of the Crillon, one of the six elite hotels in Paris known as “the palaces” by locals. De Margerie retained the parquet floors and other classic details throughout the property, but she added adornments such as European silks, Iranian carpets, and chandeliers by Baccarat and Murano. All of the 147 rooms and suites at the hotel, which architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel built at Louis XV’s behest in the mid-18th century, now have enlarged marble bathrooms. Some of the suites house new flat-screen TVs, but for more genteel entertainment, guests head to the Jardin, where a harpist performs daily during afternoon tea.