Elizabeth Harper Elizabeth Harper | November 25, 2020 | Lifestyle
In France’s Champagne region lies a spa and wellness-leaning hotel that is the stuff of luxurious dreams.
A Champagne junior suite with private terrace, which showcases design cues, including plant motifs (twigs and flowers from the grapevine), oak and stone, and pastel shades that pull from the hues of different Champagnes.
Make it pop. It permeates Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa—discreetly placed on placards, slippers, plush spa robes. It’s a whisper that dances through the hotel. It registers and yet you hardly notice it’s there. It’s branding as only the French could manage: effortless, effective, infuriatingly chic. A pseudo catchphrase plastered across a hotel anywhere else would be horrendously gauche; here, it’s a wonder. And it’s a motto I fully intend on embracing during my petit séjour in the French countryside as I pop the bottle of Leclerc Briant Champagne awaiting my arrival in my suite.
I’m fresh from Paris, whisked by private chauffeur to the quiet town of Champillon, where I’ll revel in Biologique Recherche spa offerings, Michelin-starred food and—because it’d be sacrilege not to in this corner of the world—uncover Champagne delights at Royal Champagne. As we pull into the hotel’s drive, I find I haven’t arrived in the northeast province most famous for its grapes. I’ve arrived in heaven.
Alas, first things first: It’s straight to my suite (one of only 47 on property), where I tuck my bags away, slip into a cocooning robe and jet to the spa. I’m due for a Biologique Recherche custom facial, and as I fall into a near comalike state of bliss, I make a mental note for future travels: This is the way to shake off a voyage. As the esthetician explains the methods (sorcery) and the products (magic), I dip in and out of my cozy doze, only to emerge with bright, supple, nourished skin. I float through the spa post-facial to discover the sauna and steam room, then take a turn in the gilded lap pool before cuddling in a lounger and digging into my novel. I’ve nearly fallen asleep again when duty calls and just like that I’m off to catch my dinner reservation—twist my arm.
Michelin-starred cuisine abounds, including this avant-garde dessert crafted by pastry chef Cédric Servela.
Tonight I dine at Le Bellevue, which stuns with panoramic vistas of the vineyards below. Gluttonously, my dinner companions and I order one of everything on the menu. Who can resist the allure of duck foie gras, sole fillet and chestnut creme mousse? Certainly not I. The waiter nears to garner my drink order, and before he can ask if I’d like the somm-recommended pairings for the evening, my answer has already escaped my lips: a resounding yes. The crowd here is predominantly French, with locals from nearby Reims (the region’s capital) enjoying a special night out, or Parisians escaping the city for the weekend. And as I savor my meal, I glide serenely into the backdrop, soaking in the conversations around me.
Back in my room, I opt for a quick soak in my free-standing tub and an early bedtime. Tomorrow I’m off to explore. In Reims, I marvel at the towering cathedral, still pockmarked from World War II mortar rounds. In the quaint town of Hautvillers, I pay homage to the tiny abbey, where, legend has it, Dom Pérignon himself perfected the method for making Champagne. Then, the main event: I’ve arrived at the hollowed gates of Laurent-Perrier. Although the maison is not open to the public, select friends of the brand, such as Royal Champagne VIP guests, are invited to taste its offerings on a per request basis. I’m guided through the life of the grapes— from vine to bottle—spying some of Laurent-Perrier’s oldest vintages, buried deep in the dark, cool caves along the way. The winemakers here are artisans; the passion for their craft palpable.
The salon is adjacent to the Salon Fines Bulles, where parties of up to eight can taste wines with chief sommelier Daniel Pires.
Back at the hotel, I dash to the spa for a moment of relaxation and restoration. I pass from sauna to steam room to pool to lounger and back again. Reenergized, I make my pilgrimage to the hotel’s one-Michelin-starred Le Royal for a much-anticipated chef’s tasting menu. I’m ushered into the kitchen, buzzing with action, where I enjoy a tipple of Champagne, tales from chef Jean-Denis Rieubland’s career and several amuse-bouches that set my taste buds ablaze. In the intimate dining room, which is cleverly decorated with portraits of Napoleon’s mistresses, I settle into dinner. Each course is a wonder, with impeccable wine pairings adding the final perfect note. My entire experience at Royal Champagne is a dream.
There are quirky yet quiet nods to Napoleon throughout the decor, as seen in Le Bellevue, helmed by chef Jean-Denis Rieubland.
On my final morning, before hopping on the train back to Paris, I wander the hotel’s grounds. Amid sweeping views of sloping terrain and infinite vines, I find an innate sense of peace. I conclude that this is the hotel’s magnetic draw. It’s the promise of Champagne toasts, pampering spa days and divine cuisine that pulls you there. But it’s the quiet nature escape, the astounding scenery and the deep calm that keeps you coming back. Garden junior suite from $666 per night, Josephine suite from $1,567 per night
Photography by: Courtesy of Royal Champagne Hotel And Spa