On the eve of French Heritage Days, September 21 and 22, 2019, we will be heading to two luxury hotels that have chosen to invest villages and monuments, with spectacular results. Illustration : Les Bastides de Gordes.
The luxury hotel has taken up love for old stones in Crillon-le-Brave in the Vaucluse, in the heart of Paris at the Louvre, or in Lyon, where the very impressive Intercontinental Lyon-Hotel -God welcomes since this summer its first customers. In September, this trio of French heritage illustrates three ways "to lead a monument to the future," according to the expression of Madelijn Vervoord, general director of the establishment lyonnais.
Tired of the pharaonic projects entrusted to renowned architects and often on the outskirts of city centers, hoteliers seek prestigious buildings that tell a story and offer a prime location. These professionals with strong kidneys, tens of millions of euros invested, stand out from the competition to offer their customers a little more than a night, an unusual experience: sleep the full thickness of history.
In Lyon, the hotel of the gods
A masterpiece of Soufflot and a reflection of the generosity of the Lyonnais, who financed by donations its elevation in the eighteenth century, the Hotel Dieu, in Lyon, finds the light of the great century. And it is in the hotel business that he owes it. A pharaonic project of five years, a non-standard investment - we are talking about 80 million euros - but 100% French (Crédit Agricole du Sud-Est), allowed this old hospital that was still operating in 2010 to become what the 'we can already consider as a flagship of the world of luxury hotels, as the whole is bluffing: 144 rooms including 34 suites. Most have the view of the Rhone.
Realizing a luxury hotel in a maternity hospital where "a third of Lyonnais were born" (and have a special offer on presentation of proof) was not without thought. It is a hymn to "humble luxury", likes to formulate Jean-Philippe Nuel, in charge of a particularly successful decoration. Because in this "hospital of the poor transformed into a hotel of the rich", as noted by a Lyonnais ailing in a provocative shortcut, luxury has been discreet, while restraint, favoring an architecture that remains the essential element of the decor.
The bar took place under the dome designed by Soufflot which rises to 32 meters in height. It is already considered one of the ten most beautiful in the world. The vault, breathtakingly beautiful, restored in its rich original environment, arouses such an aesthetic shock that a moment of silence precedes the entrance to the premises. The furniture, oval-blue night benches enhanced with gold cushions and subtly illuminated, should quickly become a French icon of interior design. However, to build this modern address in an old building, classified as a historical monument, will not have been without complications. Using its prerogatives, the administration of the Buildings of France plays its role of protector, with an exemplary rigor that can go far. "We were not allowed to put a sign in our name, or plant a flag in front of the hotel. We are anonymous, even if the Lyonnais know that we are here, "explains Madelijn Vervoord.
Far from complaining, the general manager of the hotel sees "the opportunity to think differently" and admits "never have had the slightest doubt or regret, in his choice to lead the project." Fortunately for the customers, the rooms enjoy the effects of protection. Some have kept a ceiling height of seven meters, tamed by a mezzanine that offers a spectacular dive through the huge bays on the Rhone. A space tamed by a subtle decoration, high Lyon silk panels and blinded headboards, a bit like the eighteenth century hospices. At the restaurant L'Epona, vast room whose stone of Burgundy, massive and luminous, warms up furniture of white and brown leather, an original lighting recalls the headdresses of the hospitable ones. The hotel saved the monument. And at the heart of this exceptional architecture, the ordinary of a night becomes unforgettable.
In Paris, the past recomposed
Nothing fundamentally lends itself more to renovation than a hotel, built in the second half of the nineteenth century. The generous volumes of the Second Empire, to let crinolines pass, now offer beautiful spaces that correspond to what a luxury clientele is looking for. The Hotel du Louvre, whose silhouette in cutaway garnishes the bottom of the Avenue de l'Opera, in Paris, is among them. Reopened a few weeks ago after months of closure and a grand renovation, operated by the Hyatt group, it shrank from what it was when it opened in 1855 for the World Expo.
It then had 700 rooms and occupied a Haussmannian rectangle drawn, in part, along the Rue de Rivoli, which is now the Louvre des Antiquaires. In 1888, he moved to his current location and now has 164 rooms. Despite this prestigious past, the hotel is not classified as a historical monument. But it is included in a protection zone, made compulsory by the presence of neighbors who weigh heavily in the collective aesthetic, the Palais Royal and the Louvre Museum. Her executive director, Fanny Guitauret, was passionate about the place: "We spent whole days with the family at the National Archives and weekends to reconstruct the history of the hotel," she explains. highlighting some discoveries: "We learned that Jules Verne stayed here every time he was going to file a new manuscript to his publisher." A conscience that guided the restoration, to which the New York decorator George Wong brought a particular touch , in strict respect of the places.
Among the finds, a canopy of beauty, which illuminates the Officine du Louvre, a bar club refreshed with succulents. The lanterns of the lobby, reissued identically, as the openwork staircase suspended in the decor, give a singular charm to this place full of light and life. One finds there this cosmopolitan abundance which was to be his under the century of Napoleon III. A setting awakened by Emmanuel Pierre's charming collages, the hotel's color code, features scenes dear to Baron Haussmann's Paris. On the floors served by wide corridors, the vast and luminous rooms offer a perspective on the rue Saint-Honoré, the rue de Rivoli and the Avenue de l'Opera. There is only this type of hotel to offer rooms with views ... on History.
Les Bastides de Gordes, Rue de la Combe 84220 Gordes, France. Tel : +33(0)4 90 72 12 12
Intercontinental Lyon-Hôtel-Dieu, 20, quai Jules-Courmont (Lyon IIe). Tarif des chambres hors suite: 295 € à 450 €. Tél.: 04 26 99 23 23.
Hôtel du Louvre, Place André-Malraux (Paris Ier). Tarif des chambres hors suite de 420 € à 700 €. Tél.: 01 73 11 12 34.