You Can Now Stay in the Only Hotel on the Grounds of Château de Versailles
Now you can get a taste of what it was like to live like French royalty.
The first hotel located on the grounds of Château de Versailles — Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle — just opened its gilded doors to guests, offering stays in a building built by Louis XIV's choice architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, in 1681. Guests can expect views of the famed French site's Orangerie, the Pièce d'Eau des Suisses, and the palace itself.
The 14-room property was restored by architect and interior designer Christophe Tollemer, who was inspired by elements of the Sun King's own style as well as the Petit Trianon palace next door — in particular how it appeared in 1788 after Marie Antoinette redecorated it.
The individually decorated rooms and suites are all named after prominent figures who have a link to Versailles, plus they feature 17th- and 18th-century decor and furnishings, as well as artifacts, like a letter from Madame de Staël to her lover, Louis, Comte de Narbonne-Lara.
Guests will also be given exclusive access to Versailles' sites, such as daily private tours of normally closed-off areas. This includes morning visits to the Trianon and Le Hameau de la Reine (The Queen's Hamlet) before the it opens to the general public, as well as evening tours of the château, with stops at the King and Queen's State Apartments and Hall of Mirrors. Plus, there is unlimited access to the Orangerie throughout the stay.
Dinner at the hotel's Ducasse au Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle is a particularly experiential affair, starting with a bell ringing at 8:30 p.m. and the staff dressed in period costumes serving a five-course meal on gold, silver, or vermeil dome-covered dishes. Reminiscent of the king's royal banquets, the food comes from 20-time Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse. Sundays feature a royal buffet brunch that follows the tradition of Le Grand Couvert, in which the king and queen dine in front of the public. A Marie Antoinette-themed afternoon tea is also offered.
Also on site is the Valmont spa, which features a checkerboard floor like the one in the palace's courtyard, as well as an almost 50-foot-long pool, hamman, and sauna. Treatments include a 90-minute facial specifically designed for the property.
"We're thrilled to be finally opening the doors to Le Grand Contrôle, a project that started out as an ambitious vision in 2016 is now ready to be shared with our much-loved guests," Airelles' CEO Guillaume Fonquernie said in a statement sent to Travel + Leisure. "I'm extremely proud of the team involved in bringing this dream to life and the level of detail and dedication that has gone into this very special property."
Of course, all this grandeur also comes with a grand price tag, starting at $2,077 — but the rate includes a dedicated butler, afternoon tea, daily tours of the Château de Versailles and Trianon, and palace grounds access with use of boats and golf carts.
And if that isn't enough indulgence, other unique experiences are also available for an additional price, such as a private concert on the stage inside the palace, a behind-the-scenes horticulturists tour of the gardens, and a Marie Antoinette-themed day, which includes trying on the period's wardrobe and dining in the French Pavilion she adored.