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Live like a king: what to expect at Versailles' new hotel

At one of the world’s most stately addresses, a new opening will let travellers live like royalty.

By Connor McGovern
Published 7 Mar 2020, 06:30 GMT
Versailles and gardens
At Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, deep-pocketed guests will be able to enjoy direct access to the beautiful Orangerie garden.
Photograph by Alamy

Is there a building more extravagant than Versailles? And is there a more extravagant way to experience the former royal residence than to bed down within the palace walls? From this autumn, deep-pocketed visitors will be able to bed down in serious style as Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle opens its doors.

To call this landmark opening a boutique hotel would be to pay it a disservice. Four years in the making and set within the grounds of the palace, it’s the crowning glory to Airelles’ portfolio, which already counts outposts in Courchevel and Val d’Isère. Surrounds are suitably sumptuous — and authentic, too, thanks to renovations overseen by Parisian designer Christophe Tollemer, who’s used the chateau’s 1788 inventory to renovate the site as accurately as possible. Technology is cleverly concealed and kept to a minimum (no TVs, merci) to let the impressive ensemble of 18th-century furnishings and fittings take centre stage. But unlike the French monarchy of the day, the room count is modest: just 14 boudoirs make up Le Grand Contrôle, each finished off with decor regal enough to make even the most discerning Marie Antoinette feel at home.

All that opulence comes at a cost — a cool €1,300 (£1,093) a night, B&B, to be exact — but what really makes this palatial pad a cut above the rest is the access it offers. This is a unique chance to be immersed in French history and discover the world’s most spectacular palace once the hordes of day-trippers have scuttled back to Paris for the night. Guests can enjoy direct access to the beautiful Orangerie garden, browse the restored library and set off on behind-the-scenes tours of sites such as the Petit Trianon, a villa surrounded by gardens that was a favourite spot of the ill-fated queen herself.

And, as this is France, no grand hotel opening would be complete without a culinary offering to match. Food comes from master chef Alain Ducasse, who updates old French classics with his distinctive high-end touch.

What's on? Picks from the palace for 2020 

Perfect parterres and sweeping vistas are highlights of a stroll through Versailles’s rambling grounds, but it’s the elaborate fountains that truly dazzle. his month, the annual season of fountain displays kicks off, with daily shows synchronised to musical scores. The after-dark shows (June-September) light up the Mirror Pool and Colonnade Grove.

The royal treatment  
For more than three years, the Queen’s State Apartments have been closed for major renovations, but on 16 April, its gilded doors will reopen once again as the splendour of the Queen’s Guard Room and Marie Antoinette’s bedchamber is finally unveiled. A mirror-image of the King’s State Apartments, the rooms are a veritable feast for the eyes, adorned with floral tapestries and dripping in gold leaf. 

Dancing in the dark
Versailles might not be the obvious place for an electro concert, but Versailles Electro will take over the grand terraces beside the Hall of Mirrors and transform them into the grandest dancefloor in France. Back for its second year, the night will see music-lovers get their groove on to a lineup that includes DJ sets by French acts L’Impératrice and Justice. 23 May. 

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