location: Champillon, Champagne
Perched high above rolling vineyards with sweeping, far reaching views over the Marne Valley is the luxury Royal Champagne hotel, a former coaching inn which Napoleon used to visit. The building has been extended with a Modernist wing. Interiors are light and effervescent, the food is sensational and the spa is a destination in its own right. Nearby, Epernay (Champagne’s capital), and the city of Reims, are just a short drive away.
The spacious rooms all look onto the vineyards and have outdoor terraces (with no view on the neighbouring rooms) on which to soak up the views. Interiors are muted in colour with natural oak floors, oak desks, hand-crafted sofas and fabric wallpapers on which flowers have been shaded in yellows or blues. Bathrooms have limestone basins, free-standing tubs and rain showers. The suites are designed in mirror symmetry and can be coupled on request thanks to a discrete corridor in the dressings. All rooms come with an Illy coffee machine, Jing teas, free soft drink minibar, flatscreen TV, and air conditioning.
Le Royal, the hotel’s main restaurant has a Michelin star. Chef Rieubland interprets the Champagne terroir highlighting the products of the region and infusing in them a sunny freshness. The restaurant is set beneath a gold-leafed ceiling and decorated by portraits of four of the women in Napoleon’s life. The chic brasserie Le Bellevue is more casual, but no less enchanting. At Abysse, bartenders are as likely to tempt you with an expertly mixed cocktail as a glass of Pinot-rich Leclerc Briant champagne. Apéro hour is best savoured on the terrace.
The destination spa offers a vast range of treatments available from Biologique Recherche. There is also a hammam, sauna, jacuzzis, and a fitness room. Two heated swimming pools, one inside and one outside (April-October) take in the views of the beautiful countryside. Borrow an e-bike from the hotel to explore the Champagne vineyards – the extra power will come in handy on some of the steeper inclines.
✅ free Wi-Fi • size matters: 47 rooms & suites (44-107m2) (474-1,152 sq ft) • hotel opened: 2018 • architecture: PACE Architects (Reims) • interior design: Sybille de Margerie (Paris)• bathroom amenities: Hermès ✅ free on-site parking • pets allowed • 24-hour front desk • two wheelchair accessible rooms
The DNA: Spread across a Modernist wing and a 19th-century Post House, the hotel embraces the lush bounty of the wineries and the UNESCO World Heritage Site that surrounds it. The renovation and new built have been created by architect Giovanni Pace, known for his work at the champagne house of Moët & Chandon. The whole design re-imagines the perfect wine-country retreat. It draws on local quartz stones coming from Euville, known for its hardness and its homogeneity but also for its pinky beige color which calls to mind the Champagne’s hue. The use of glass emphasises the verdant valley outside and imbuing the building with an overwhelming feeling of lightness. The façade curves cleverly to make different terraces for the swimming pool, the spa, the herb garden and the restaurant. Elegant interiors weave references to the twigs and flowers from the grapevines on the walls, while bubbles are found in the metal work, the lights suspended from the ceiling by Giampato & Coombes and scattered across the walls of the treatment rooms in the spa. Natural materials of oak and stone used throughout root the building in its rural surroundings.