A prospect worth entertaining, not least during the dark winter season, is visiting the newly refurbished and redesigned Royal Champagne Hotel & SPA offering many delights to add lustre and light to your life any time of year. Arriving here from London in late summer, we found our way enjoying the comforts of our Volvo XC60 matching perfectly with its cream lush interior the smooth surfaces of French motorways making our way from Calais Port.
It may come as a surprise to learn that only now the region has acquired its first contemporary luxury hotel with the reinvention of this old resting site for kings and commoners alike on their travels through Champagne. You might even say that the rich history of Champagne – the world’s most iconic wine regions – has taken on a new dimension with the launch of the Royal Champagne Hotel & SPA, embracing the lush bounty of the wineries and the surrounding UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Situated amidst the vineyards that run through the hills of Epernay and the historical villages of Champillon and Hautvillers, champagne connoisseurs will be well aware of the latter, the medieval abbey grounds where Dom Pérignon source their grapes from. Indeed, guests of the Royal Champagne Hotel & SPA have exclusive access to private Champagne houses, harvesting, and tasting sessions with local wine producers. Although you may find it challenging to leave the lush comforts of the hotel, we very much enjoyed the activities curated by the in-house concierge team. After all, how could you not take advantage, being in such close proximity to the magical production of the world’s most magical drink?
With a modest, yet refined approach, making the most of the elevated site overlooking Marne Valley, local Reims-based architect Giovanni Pace has designed the property in the style of a contemporary amphitheatre, incorporating the original 19th Century Post House where it is said that King Charles X of France rested before heading to Reims for his coronation. Each of the 49 rooms and suites affords spectacular views of the valley, appointed with Hermès amenities and not surprisingly, state-of-the-art comforts and interior designed by Sybille de Margerie.
The original property had been closed since 2014 after it was acquired by Boston-based Champagne Hospitality collection, a group of boutique luxury hotels and spas that includes the award-winning Le Barthelemy Hotel & SPA in St. Barths. The hotel is led by Vincent Parinaud who is the General Manager. He was keen to point out that the team has embarked upon something absolutely unique in this very special place, ‘enveloping our guests in a sensory experience that is wholly restorative and as uplifting as the bubbles in a glass of champagne. The beauty of our surroundings’ he says ‘will be matched only by the inner sanctuary we have created at Royal Champagne.’
This ‘sanctuary’ takes many forms and we experienced it in the region’s first world-class destination SPA spanning 1600 square meters. In partnership with acclaimed French brand Biologique Recherche, the wellness centre comprises nine treatment rooms; state of the art fitness facilities; a wood-lined yoga studio; eucalyptus-infused sauna; manicure and pedicure stations, and a mosaic-tiled Hammam. Completing the experience are two temperature-controlled, chaise longue-lined swimming pools – one indoor, one outdoor – along with dedicated staff who deliver invigorating juice blends and guide guests to multiple relaxation lounges.
And then, of course, there are the culinary arts. The Royal Champagne Hotel & SPA is home to two-Michelin-star chef Jean-Denis Rieubland, leading Le Royal and Bellevue, the two in-house dining options. Le Royal is the gourmet dining room while Bellevue is the casual, all-day dining restaurant. Vegetables grown by staff, meat delivered daily by local farmer friends, and honey harvested on the grounds make fine dining in the Michelin starred restaurant Le Royal both contemporary and exciting, although travellers seeking vegetarian and vegan options may struggle to find a satisfactory combination here.
Nevertheless, for visual connoisseurs of dining, it is worth pointing out that chef Rieubland plates his perfectly balanced dishes on custom Maison Fragile china, designed for the resort by Nicolas Ouchenir. Multi-course tasting menus or a la carte meals are paired with wines carefully selected by sommelier Daniel Pires and the award-winning pastry chef Cédric Servela signs for an unforgettable sweet finale.
Indeed, Servela, as other members of this most welcoming of hotel staff, has left us with a sweet taste of luxury that we are only too keen to experience again. Appreciating the rich history of Royal Champagne we will join the entourage of King Charles X and many others including Dom Pérignon, a monk and cellar master at the Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers when he said (at the moment he discovered champagne): ‘Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!’