The much-awaited first hotel and global flagship for the 250-year-old Baccarat crystal brand has now opened its doors, managed by Starwood Capital Group and with sumptuous interiors by Paris-based firm, Gilles & Boissier.
Situated directly across the street from the Museum of Modern Art and just steps away from the retail hub of Fifth Avenue, the 114-room hotel occupies the first 12 floors of the split level tower that rises 550ft above West 53rd Street.
Baccarat SA – majority owned by Starwood Capital Group – has a proud and highly prestigious heritage. Founded in 1764 by King Louis XV, the company has since created exquisite products for some of the world’s most high profile figures, from sheiks and sultans to modern moguls, designers and rock stars.
Indeed, more Baccarat craftsmen have received the coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France title – a rare distinction bestowed by the French government to artisans considered to be the finest in their fields – than any other French company.
This foray into the hotel sector marks the brand’s new evolution into a perfectly-crafted lifestyle and hospitality brand, and thus it was crucial to ensure that the interior encapsulated the elegance and prestige synonymous with this celebrated brand.
Combining Baccarat’s French classic aesthetics with the contemporary aesthetic of the hotel’s midtown New York City location, Gilles & Boissier – alongside Starwood Capital’s own design team – have done just this.
Commitment to fine craftsmanship is woven into every detail of the design. Upon entering the lobby, for example, guests are greeted by a mesmerising 20 by 25ft wall, adorned with more than 2000 of Baccarat’s most iconic glasses, The Harcourt. Each of these custom-sized glasses has been laid horizontally, and lit by an LED light to create a 24-hour installation.
Elsewhere, 17 custom chandeliers hang throughout the property – many suspended by rough cord rope – while a stand-out chandelier in the second-floor bar has been made exclusively out of wood.
“I wanted to celebrate light, and to produce a hotel that glowed, and was shimmering, sensual, elegant but still functional, fun, comfortable, and not overly formal,” explains Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, the parent of SH Group.
“We waited and believe we found the perfect location to launch our first hotel. Our designs pay respect to our neighbours in the property’s simple exterior, but we add great drama with other details including a four-foot high always-burning fireplace which represents the furnaces in our manufacturing facilities at Baccarat France.
“The hotel has every possible amenity a privileged client demands. Our goal is to offer perfection of service that matches Baccarat’s perfection in the production of crystal.”
Giles & Boissier, in addition to the Starwood Capital design team, designed many of the hotel’s furnishings, including some spectacular and never-before-seen works from the Baccarat factories. Classic pieces for the public spaces and guest rooms were also carefully curated from the brand’s archival and contemporary collections.
The choice of surfacing throughout creates a multitude of textures and finishes, from the parquet wood flooring, woven rugs and hand-pleated silk wallcoverings, to stainless ribbed and mica-coated ceilings and mirror and marble wall treatments.
Meanwhile, French curators Stéphanie and Frédéric Chambre have assembled the hotel’s art collection, which includes works from important movements over the 250 years since Baccarat’s founding. Commissioned original art and one-of-a-kind furniture from renowned French artists Francois Houtin and Armand Jonckers can also be found throughout the hotel.
In keeping with this attention to detail, each of the hotel’s 114 guest rooms and suites feels like a private pied-à-terre. Room categories start with the generous Classic King and ascend to the Baccarat Presidential Suite, the hotel’s ‘pièce de résistance.’ All rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, sitting areas, and custom jacquard linens by Mascioni.
Hidden from the sleeping area by hand-painted French doors, white marble bathrooms boast glass-enclosed showers with oversized shower heads and exclusive amenities created for the hotel by Parisian perfumer Francis Kurkdjian.
A tablet equipped with state-of-the-art technology controls all aspects of the room, including temperature, lighting, and room service. A custom-designed Baccarat red enamel mini bar will offer delights from the French gourmet house Fauchon and a button marked ‘Champagne’ on the telephone handset will allow guests to order a bottle of their favourite vintage to their rooms accompanied by signature Baccarat fluted glasses.
Guests of the luxury suites will have the added feature of complimentary La Mer skincare products and nightly salon services, while all guests will have complimentary use of the house car, a vintage Citroen, for transport within 15 blocks of the hotel.
Located at street level is the signature contemporary French restaurant, Chevalier, which takes its name from Baccarat’s longtime and most beloved creative director, Georges Chevalier, who was responsible for ushering the crystal company into the modern age. The restaurant references the original brasseries of Paris, while also showcasing reinterpreted and updated French classics.
On the second storey, the Grand and Petit Salons offer light snacks and evening cocktails. Just off the Grand salon is the hotel bar, an immensely striking space featuring barrel-vaulted ceilings, a 60ft bar and an outdoor terrace overlooking the MoMA.
Elsewhere, an intimate spa, fitness centre and 50ft indoor pool complete the facilities. Designed to recall a luxurious European seaside retreat, the four treatment rooms beckon guests and locals who crave revitalising treatments and soothing respites.
Adjacent to the spa, luxurious day beds in alcoves surround the black-and-white marble-tiled pool, which suggests a sunken ballroom. The walls surrounding the pool feature the work of painter, François Houtin, who is known for his detailed prints of utopian gardens. The forest scene is a tribute to the woods near Baccarat’s French-countryside factory.