PARIS -- In celebration of the centennial of the Hotel Ritz, the
Carnavalet Museum here is holding an exhibition called "From Palais
to Palace," which traces the evolution of superior 19th century
The three-month exhibit, running from Oct. 21 to Jan. 24, will
showcase the history and secrets of many of the most prestigious
hotels of that era, including the Crillon, the Hotel Concorde
Saint-Lazare, the Grand Hotel, and, of course, the Ritz.
Today's Hotel Concorde Saint-Lazare opened as the Grand Hotel
Terminus on May 7, 1899 for the World's Fair, just after the debut
of St.-Lazare train station. The property was built by Gustave
Eiffel and is an official historical monument. The inspiration for
this hotel came from London's Grosvenor Hotel at Victoria Station
and the Charing Cross Hotel, among others. Its design recalls the
days when hotels often were built as complements to railway
As the Grand Hotel Terminus, the present Saint-Lazare
represented the height of luxury at the time, most notably in its
electricity and telephones and the introduction of room service.
Furthermore, with an overhead passage between station and hotel,
the hotel was "transfer free," with porters taking luggage directly
between the trains and guest rooms.
The present Hotel de Crillon had its beginnings as a luxurious
maison, a private residence opened up to wealthy visitors. Built in
the 18th century, some years later it served as a residence of the
Spanish ambassador, and in 1788, it was purchased by Comte de
In 1909, along with two adjacent buildings, the palace became a
hotel. It is now the flagship property of the Concord Hotels group.
The choicest rooms overlook the Place de la Concorde, and the
hotel's Ambassadeurs restaurant earned a Michelin three-star
Le Grand Hotel was a key part of the master plan for the
reconstruction of Paris during the reign of Napoleon III in the
mid-19th century under the direction of architect Baron Haussmann.
Located on Rue Scribe, it is an immense Belle-Epoque triangle, the
oldest of the city's landmark luxury hotels and certainly the
In this exhibition the original Ritz, founded by the legendary
Cesar Ritz in 1898, is the quintessential model of a palace. A real
work of art with elegant decor and ideal service, the Ritz became
the Parisian place par excellence. It was the first hotel to have
bathrooms in the rooms.