If you’ve ever visited Versailles Palace, outside Paris, it may be a stretch to imagine staying on palace grounds and having the chance to see the Royal Apartments, Hall of Mirrors, Le Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon, Le Hameau and Marie Antoinette’s farm, separately, on exclusive, private, after-hour, docent-led tours. Yet, since June 2021, when Airelles opened Le Grand Contrôle, guests have flocked to the uber-luxe, boutique hotel and spa to do just that.
Louis XIV’s favorite architect, Jules Hardouin Mansart (of Mansart-roof fame), designed Le Grand Contrôle as a home for the king’s comptroller in 1681; court officials for Louis XV and Louis XVI also enjoyed corridor access to the kings’ apartments. Architect/interior designer Christophe Tollemer and a staff of artisans and experts took four years (and nearly €50 million) to transform the trio of historic 17th-century buildings to reflect 1788, when the last inventory was done. Today, high-tech, 21st-century technical infrastructure — complete with a 50-foot indoor pool in the Valmont spa — complements an exquisite 18th-century setting: marble and parquet floors, gilded walls, rare antiques and furnishings upholstered in replicated fabrics, with period accessories, such as mirrors, sconces and chandeliers.
Even the culinary program nods to the era; so who better than 20-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse to create the fantasy? Candlelight and classical music by Bach and Vivaldi accompany carefully curated Royal Feasts that reinterpret King Louis XVI’s extravagant meals are served by waitstaff in 18t- century dress who present dishes on gold, silver or vermeil dome-covered dishes. On Sundays, the Royal Brunch, Le Grand Couvert, replicates the King’s soup and adds an extravagant buffet.
Courtly treatment extends from the valet at the gate to every breakfast, where seats with upholstered chairbacks are positioned around the table to face Le Nôtre’s famed L’Orangérie and the grand, 100-step staircase to the chateaux. (Not to worry, there’s a bevy of private golf carts and vans!) Imagine an event here for up to 54 guests, or within the chateau itself, a special amenity reserved for hosts who takeover all 14 rooms and suites (for 36 sleepover guests).
12 Rue de l’Indépendence Américaine
78000 Versailles, France
tel 33 1 85 36 05 50
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THE MOST EXCLUSIVE TOURS OF EGYPT EVER OFFERED
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