Champagne, that little wine region near Paris you may have heard of, is having a bit of a moment. Not just because 2018 has already been dubbed the best vintage ever, or because LVMH-owned site Clos19 just launched trips here, or indeed because Moët & Chandon celebrates the 150th anniversary of its flagship Imperial in 2019. It’s also that it’s just got this, Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, its first proper five-star spa hotel, a multi-million dollar reboot of a 19th-century, Napoleonic-era post-house.
A quiet hilltop with views of Champagne capital Epernay, biking distance to nearby Aÿ (home to Bollinger, among others) and the delightful village of Hautvillers (e-bikes available). Paris to Reims is 40 minutes via TGV or come direct from Charles de Gaulle Airport in 80.
Paris escapees on a wellness break; low-key honeymooners; serious oenophiles passing through for the fairly priced bubbly on the roof terrace.
If it weren’t for Le Bellevue restaurant’s epic duck foie gras, we’d say the spa, with indoor and outdoor pool, or possibly the terrace at sunset, where a bottle of fizz starts at a reasonable $80. But Le Bellevue’s stand-out starter is just too good. Oh, and the concierge can get guests into many of the Champagne houses off-limits to everyone else.
Le Bellevue is the casual all-dayer that feels more like bistro-grade, non-hotel cooking (that’s a compliment); while the bigger draw might be Le Royal, two-Michelin chef Jean-Denis Rieubland’s reliably brilliant fine-diner. The spa is big and feels empty even when it isn’t.
A Relais & Châteaux property so more gilded opulent-luxe than Le Marais cool. Still, it works. The design master stroke might be the amphitheatre-style design which means every room gets a view of the Marne Valley.