If you’re looking for a luxury cultural getaway to Europe, you just might want to book a stay at France’s Palace of Versailles. The grounds are now home to the Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle hotel, making a sleepover at the nation’s historic royal residence accessible to members of the public for the first time.
The hotel, which is the seventh property opened by luxury hotel chain Airelles, boats a spa, a nearly 50-foot-long indoor swimming pool, and a kitchen helmed by chef Alain Ducasse, whose menu is inspired by the opulence of the French court under King Louis XIV. But the biggest amenity is undoubtedly the exclusive access to the palace afforded to guests, including to areas normally closed to visitors.
Nightly rates start at €1,700 ($2,014) and include intimate evening tours of the main palace, including the king and queen’s state apartments and a hall of mirrors. Guests can also start each day with morning tours of other areas of the palace complex, such as the Grand Trianon and Le Hameau de la Reine, built for Queen Marie Antoinette.
If you’re staying at the hotel, you can also wander through the 2,000-acre Orangery Gardens at any time of day.
Originally a hunting lodge, Le Grand Contrôle was designed in 1861 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who the hotel describes as King Louis XIV’s favorite architect.
To transform the building into a hotel, architect and interior designer Christophe Tollemer oversaw a careful restoration. French artisans and craftspeople restored and recreated original historical features such as parquet flooring, stonework, and wood panelling, and Maison Pierre Freyhas made wall hangings for each room, based on designs from the Versailles archives.
Tollemer worked with Emmanuelle Vidal-Delagneau, a specialist in French heritage and art, to outfit the hotel with period artwork, furniture, and other furnishings that will transport guests to 1788 France, before the revolution that overthrew the monarchy.
Much of the inspiration came from Versailles’s Petit Trianon Palace, constructed in 1758 by King Louis XV. In addition to authentic 17th- and 18th-century antiques, the hotel is also home to unique artifacts such as a love letter from Madame De Staël to her lover Louis, Comte de Narbonne-Lara. Each of the 14 rooms are named after historical figures linked to the property.
“We’re thrilled to be finally opening the doors to Le Grand Contrôle, a project which started out as an ambitious vision in 2016,” Airelles C.E.O. Guillaume Fonquernie said in a statement. “This launch represents an exciting new chapter for Airelles at a very poignant time for the hospitality industry as a whole, as we begin to slowly recover from the pandemic and look forward to brighter times ahead.”
Other perks that come with a stay at Le Grand Contrôle include a dedicated butler, breakfast, afternoon tea, and a fully stocked minibar. Dinner at Ducasse at Château de Versailles aims to recreate the royal banquets of old, served by waiters in period garb. The meal begins at 9 p.m., with staff ringing a bell to summon diners to the five-course feast.
Guests can also purchase additional experiences such as a a private performance at the Royal Opera, private dining set to the sounds of a string quartet in the former apartment of Louis XV’s daughters, or a Marie Antoinette-themed day featuring a costume fitting.
See more photos of the hotel below.
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