Airelles Château de Versailles Le Grand Contrôle is the first-ever Versailles Hotel and it has just opened!
It began life as a modest hunting lodge built by Louis XIII in 1623, but under the ownership of Louis XIV, Versailles became a magnificent palace renowned throughout the world. Over the course of more than 100 years, and during numerous successions to the throne, the building was embellished and enlarged to accommodate the court of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. Now considered one of the finest achievements of French art, the Palace of Versailles remains a cultural symbol of royal splendour.
Created by luxury hospitality brand Airelles, Le Grand Contrôle is the first-ever hotel set within the gates of Versailles. Le Grand Contrôle was built in 1681 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Louis XIV’s favourite architect and an icon of French classicism. The grandiose building once played host to Europe’s political and cultural elite, from ambassadors and artists to musicians, writers and scientists of the Enlightenment.
Now, more than two centuries later, it has been entirely restored, offering guests an exclusive peek into the world of Versailles. With 14 sumptuous Rooms and Suites replete with period furnishings and fittings for a royal stay, guests are invited to step back in history, being at the same time pampered with contemporary comforts.
Inside the Versailles hotel
Paying homage to the rich history, every element at Le Grand Contrôle touches upon its former 18th-century splendour, from carefully sourced interiors, right down to the uniforms worn by the welcome team.
Furniture and paintings that once had a place in the palace have been reunited with their former home. Technology has been thoughtfully considered throughout; in place of TVs, guests will instead discover views of the Orangery Garden and the Lake of the Swiss Guards beautifully framed by drapery, whilst the lighting has been sensitively designed in keeping with 18th-century styling.
Gastronomy at Airelles Château de Versailles Le Grand Contrôle
With Alain Ducasse’s philosophy and wisdom infusing each and every dish, dining at Le Grand Contrôle means taking a journey through time and experiencing gastronomic pleasures from the past to the present. A day at Le Grand Contrôle is more like a several act play punctuated by delicious breaks – much like it was during the reign of Louis X.
As in the days of kings, lunch rivals dinner when it comes to the quantity of food on offer. Here, tradition and modernity blend together happily around a menu served over two, three or five courses. Take a seat at the king’s table and be seduced by delicious dishes inspired by the great classics of French cuisine. Look out for the delicate mallard Galantine with foie gras and pistachios, the traditional Vol-au-vent, the Great Scallops with Jerusalem artichokes and truffles, and save room for the desserts; signature sweet plates such as L’Elixir de Louis XV with citrus fruits and cascara or L’Orangerie with chocolate and its crunchy praline.
In homage to Marie-Antoinette, afternoon tea will be served in the sitting room: expect an assortment of finger sandwiches, Viennese-style brioche rolls, treats made by the pastry chef or even the much-adored Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse hot chocolate.
In the evening, the doors to the restaurant are thrown open and guests are treated with the same reverence and care as they would have been in the era of royalty. Inspired by the royal feasts, the seemingly endless dishes are brought out in successive waves called “services”. Soups and starters are followed by roasts and salads, then puddings, and finally dessert. Like players in a well-orchestrated ballet, the team will place the gold, silver or vermeil-covered dishes on the table with each wave.
The unique experiences only a Versailles hotel can offer
To ensure a memorable trip, every stay at Le Grand Controle will unlock a host of exclusive benefits and privileged access to Château de Versailles and its grounds. A highlight of any stay, explore a different part of the Palace ‘after hours’ every evening with a complimentary private tour. Along with access to the main areas of the Palace of Versailles, your guide will also reveal previously unseen spaces. Keen to venture beyond the gardens of Versailles? As part of your stay, you can also enjoy a complimentary private tour of the Estate of Trianon every morning, as your guide uncovers a new room and garden every time.
For a seamless experience from check-in to check out, every guest will be assigned a dedicated butler, with no request too big or small. To keep guests fuelled for adventure, breakfast – created by Alain Ducasse – is included in the stay, along with a complimentary minibar and daily Afternoon Tea. Perfect for exploring, guests will also receive unlimited complimentary access to electric golf carts and electric boats. For those keen to keep up with fitness goals, private yoga and fitness classes are available on request whilst full access to the Valmont Spa allows for royal relaxation.
photos by Renee Kemps