London, Florida, France: Hotels with a past

by | Culture, Travel

Revisionist histories

A PARIS LANDMARK. A MIAMI BEACH CLUB. LONDON LODGING MOST POSH. THESE MUST-BOOK HOTELS COME WITH NEW EVERYTHING — EXCEPT THEIR PASTS

by CHRISTINA GEYER

Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club

In its heyday during the 1930s, Miami’s Surf Club and its famous Cabana Row hosted all types of glitterati, from Tony Bennett to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Elizabeth Taylor. (Megawatt book publisher Assouline even dedicated an entire glossy tome to the historic, star-studded destination and the notables who visited, aptly titled The Surf Club.) Time will tell which famous vacationers will frequent or take up residence at the newfangled Surf Club, which is undergoing a sizable expansion and renovation, all at the hands of starchitect Richard Meier; the hotel’s new managing partners, the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts; and Florida real estate investment company Fort Capital. Scheduled to reopen in early 2016, the updated Club will include a set of new Meier-designed hotel and residential buildings plus a revamp of the Club’s fabled cabanas by architect Joseph Dirand. Preservationists, fret not: The original Russell Pancoast–designed buildings — and their WASP-y vibe — will remain intact. It is said that Winston Churchill was known for painting seascapes and sipping cocktails in his private Surf Club cabana. Oh, if those walls could talk. 9011 Collins Ave., Miami, 305-330-4000; thesurfclub.com

Hôtel de Crillon

This jewel of Paris, whose 257-year-old walls have stood through the reigns of two French kings, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire, is set to reopen this year. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts assumed management of the historic hotel in late 2013; the Crillon has been closed for nearly two years for an extensive restoration and design update. And it is a dream team doing the work: French architect Richard Martinet; Parisian decorators Chahan Minassian, Cyril Vergniol and Tristan Auery; and the hotel’s Lebanese artistic director Aline d’Amman. While the Crillon’s traditional interiors will be enhanced with a contemporary bent, perhaps the most exciting decorative changes are coming by way of designer and icon Karl Lagerfeld (he of fashion houses Chanel and Fendi), who has been commissioned to design two suites. Lagerfeld’s quintessentially French “grand apartments” will be coveted bookings among fashion and society swells. The hotel reopens this year. 10, Place de la Concorde, Paris, 011-33-1-44-71-15-00, crillon@rosewoodhotels.com; crillon.com

The Lanesborough

It is a Regency-style landmark in London’s fashionable Knightsbridge neighborhood — and it has a rather unusual past. Rumored to be the most expensive lodging in London, the Lanesborough was first a 350-bed hospital, designed in 1827 by the English architect William Wilkins. After standing vacant for 10 years, the building became the Lanesborough in the early 1990s. It has since been owned or managed by several luxury-hotel companies. In late 2014, the Oetker Collection, a European company which manages such exclusive properties as the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, assumed management responsibilities and promptly closed the Lanesborough’s doors for renovations. With a reopening slated for this spring, the Lanesborough will brim with a new elegance, designed by the inimitable Alberto Pinto (he died in November 2014, before the project’s completion), including 93 refreshed rooms and suites, plus boldly decorated dining and common areas, all of which stay true to the original Regency style and the feeling that staying at the Lanesborough is like staying in a private home — a wonderfully opulent home. Hyde Park Corner, London, 011-44-20-72-59-55-99, reservations@lanesborough.com; lanesborough.com