A Classic Revisited

Paris' beau ideal

There's no shortage of top-tier accommodations in Paris, where the term "palace hotel" is sometimes historic fact and not merely industry jargon. That's true of the Hotel de Crillon, which for our money is now the place to stay in the City of Light. After a two-and-a-half-year renovation, the Crillon's grandeur is grander than ever, with a few sublimely contemporary touches (the secluded bar was designed by the sculptor César and decorated by Sonia Rykiel). All 95 rooms and 57 suites have been redone by Sybille de Margerie, who must have used every yard of flower-embroidered silk in France. Most indulgent of all is the Grand Bernstein Suite, named for the American composer. It has three bedrooms, four baths, a dining room, and a 1,400-foot terrace. Yet for all the boiserie and parquet, the hotel is far from intimidating. Under the direction of the new general manager, Franka Holtmann, service is perfect. The stuffiness of many grand hotels is absent, with thoroughly committed staff tending to every need, from patient computer-support guys to resourceful concierges getting us into impossible-to-book restaurants. We might well have dispensed with our reservations at the three-star hot spot of the moment: The rack of lamb that we had at the Crillon's one-star Les Ambassadeurs far exceeded it. Rates, $720-$2,120 for the Grand Bernstein Suite. At Place de la Concorde; 33-1-44-71-1500.

Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.