by Luigi Irauzqui

As a well-seasoned interior designer, lifestyle curator and self-proclaimed hedonist, I am always in the lookout for hidden gems and new exciting places.

I still remember the feeling of exhilaration the first time I stepped into Main Street at Disneyland as a child. This is something that never leaves you.

I never thought I would experience this same feeling again as an adult until the elevator doors opened up to the Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel in New York.

After all, I’ve had decades of exposure to the finest in architecture, design, art and hospitality around the globe so people know that I am not that easily impressed.

Coming in from the bustling and overwhelming mix of sounds and smells of mid-town Manhattan and stepping into the shimmering, bejeweled, bedazzled and resplendent interiors of this grande dame of hotels transported me immediately into a world of luxury comparable to a modern day Versailles with a twist…and those who know me know how much I love 18th century French opulence… 

The landmark crystals, the elaborate chandeliers, the red velvet opulence, the red hued lighting which did I mention…is unbelievably flattering and highly Instagramable.

Add to it the double height ceilings, the vast grand spaces, the monochromatic black and white theme, the majestic marble tables and the subtle hints of gold elegantly mixed with Baccarat’s signature iconic Crimson red throughout.

Not only does everything about the Baccarat scream luxury but everything about this hotel is just luxuriously decadent down to the trademark Baccarat Rouge 540 scent, that greets you as you step into the lobby and never leaves you as you walk around the hotel.

Yet beyond all the sparkling chandeliers, the fine furniture, the crystal glasses they use to serve the wispy Ruinart Rosé, the Baccarat Hotel has a surprisingly unpretentious atmosphere despite the dripping “richesse”.

The salons may be dramatic and opulent but at the same time there is something warm, inviting…somehow intimate.

This is where Gilles & Boissier come in: partners at work as in life, Gilles & Boissier is the dynamic duo responsible for one of the most successful architecture, decoration and graphic design agencies in the world and the faces behind some of the most respected design projects of the last 15 years.

Patrick Gilles is all about strict lines and has a very distinctive taste for fine exotic woods while Dorothée Boissier has a way with space, colors and a sublime instinctual elegance. This balanced yet contrasting energy is evident throughout the hotel but together they form a unified design whole.

In 2004, Remo Ruffini, owner of the Moncler brand, entrusted Gilles & Boissier to design Moncler’s 200 shops as well as Ruffini’s private residence on Lake Como, his chalet in Saint-Moritz and his yacht.

But it is Barry Sternlicht, of the Starwood Capital Group, that catapults them into design stardom by appointing them to build his new hotel brand the Baccarat Hotel.

Dorothée Boissier and Patrick Gilles devoted three years to developing the innovative image for the first-ever Baccarat Hotel. A new concept in the elite hospitality sector, the interiors pay tribute to the refined aesthetic of a 18th century French brand like Baccarat while incorporating the feeling of a private and welcoming 21st century home in a revolutionary city such as New York, at the forefront of innovation and modernism.

Gilles & Boissier take you to an incredible fusion of sensibilities; uniquely French spatial proportions and décor are blended in with the dynamism of contemporary New York, a city celebrated for its adventurous vitality and grittiness.

A private art collection specially curated for the hotel by French husband and wife team Stéphanie and Frédéric Chambre echoes Baccarat’s own history.

Frédéric Chambre, a well known Parisian art connoisseur, spent eighteen months in Paris auction houses seeking extraordinary works of art for the Baccarat Hotel New York. The resulting collection, spanning from the 18th Century to present day, includes a series of paintings, photography and compelling works in other mediums, all uniquely suited to Baccarat.

Beyond all the exceptional artwork collected for the hotel by Frédéric Chambre, the Baccarat Hotel also commissioned new work from 11 artists, both French and based in France. Each was given 10 Baccarat Harcourt glasses – the most iconic piece of stemware in Baccarat’s crystal collection – to create an artistic interpretation of its nuances. 

Diverse and inventive, these radiant pieces are displayed in dramatically lit glass vitrines, standing on white marble suite doorways in every guest floor.

I mean let’s face it… where else can you get your own Baccarat crystal exhibit at the door of your room?

In addition to The Bar’s museum- quality collection from the likes of Robert Longo, Ellen von Unsworth, Joaquin Ferrer, Slim Aarons, Jean-Philippe Aubanel, Segui, Nan Goldin and Eduardo Arroyo, more than 100 custom designed works of art are displayed throughout the hallways and public areas of the hotel.

The Baccarat Hotel exudes true luxury and elegance: the vibe throughout is bright and classic but yet distinctly modern, dark and sexy.

The perfect balance of these dual design polarities and the quintessential marriage of classic and contemporary makes this hotel so aesthetically unique.

My new happy place in New York.