Today’s reader review, Airelles Le Grand Contrôle Versailles, is by Louise.
In this post:
Airelles Le Grand Contrôle Versailles: A Majestic Journey Back in Time
A visit to Versailles had always lingered on my bucket list, but the idea of battling crowds had somewhat deterred me. Then, Airelles unveiled their opulent hotel nestled within the grounds of Versailles, complete with the enticing promise of after-hours access to the chateau. It was a proposition too tempting to resist.
The hotel, comprising two splendid buildings – Le Grand and La Petite Controle, once serving as the finance minister’s quarters, even boasted a direct corridor to the king’s domain. These historic edifices, after a stint as army lodgings, underwent a meticulous transformation into a hotel just prior to the start of the pandemic.
Upon our arrival, as our car pulled up, we were promptly greeted by the valet, who knew us by name, and our personal butler, who ushered us inside with refreshing cold towels and drinks.
The entire staff, resplendent in period attire, transported us effortlessly back to the era of Marie Antoinette. The hotel, painstakingly restored, exudes an air of timeless elegance, adorned with period furnishings and paintings, while platters of Ladurée macarons and fresh fruits adorned every corner.
Though we had initially reserved a regular room, our travel agent and the hotel kindly upgraded us to the regal Beauvilliers suite. This lavish suite offered triple exposures, a separate lounge, a study area, a bedroom, a bathroom, and two toilets.
The decor leaned towards the traditional, but the opulence lay in the meticulous attention to detail. The hotel left no stone unturned, catering to every conceivable need, from phone chargers to eye masks and everything in between.
The minibar was stocked with complimentary soft drinks and an array of snacks, including gourmet sweets and truffle crisps.
In anticipation of our arrival, our travel agent had received a comprehensive itinerary for our stay, including tours of the Chateau, Le Grand and Le Petit Trianon, and a myriad of additional activities like access to the library with a curator, horseback riding, picnics, and even a private audience with the ‘Queen’ herself.
The hotel’s Valmont spa, nestled in the basement, required advance booking for entry. We secured a complimentary hour slot and had the pool and steam room entirely to ourselves after the initial few minutes. As an extra touch of indulgence, they even offered a glass of Moët at the pool! Opting for the royal package, we indulged in afternoon tea at the onsite Alain Ducasse restaurant, a set dinner in the same restaurant, and breakfast served either in-room or at the restaurant. It was a veritable feast for the senses.
Afternoon tea unfolded on the terrace, courtesy of the lovely weather. It presented an innovative selection of sweet and savoury delights, with a unique twist on baked Alaska that left us refreshed.
Each evening, the hotel offers guided tours of the Chateau of Versailles after closing hours. One day, the focus was on the king’s quarters, and the next, the queen’s, but both included the iconic Hall of Mirrors.
It was an extraordinary experience to wander through these halls with only three other individuals in the company of a knowledgeable guide. The tour lasted about an hour and a half, offering access to areas typically off-limits to the public
Dinner at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant was a formal affair marked by a sense of grandeur. The Grand Feast was a culinary journey featuring amuse-bouche, three starters, lobster, duck, and a medley of delectable desserts. We opted for one of the wine pairings as an add-on, and each selection beautifully complemented the sumptuous dishes.
Now, before retiring for the night, we were offered an intriguing experience known as “The Royal Awakening.” Keen not to miss a thing, I accepted. Bright and early the following morning, a gentle scratching sound on the door signalled the arrival of the butler, bearing a lantern and a small sound system playing classical music. After bidding us good morning and serving a morning drink, he opened the curtains. It was unquestionably one of the most unusual wake-up calls I’ve ever experienced, and my husband now sees the humour in it, even if he didn’t at the time!
Breakfast, a lavish affair, unfolded at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant, set in the same room as our dinner the night before. We were greeted by an array of croissants and fruits, followed by a choice of orders from the a la carte menu.
In the mornings, a second tour was on offer, encompassing a visit to the gardens of Le Grand Trianon and Le Petit Trianon before they opened to the public. This exclusive tour, illuminated by the morning sunshine, included access to areas typically restricted.
The hotel provided complimentary golf buggies for exploring the Chateau’s expansive grounds. This proved a delightful way to appreciate the vastness of the gardens, the serene boating lake, and the charming grottos and fountains. The butlers supplied bottled water and a map, allowing us to explore at our own pace.
Staying for more than one night is highly recommended, as the tours rotate, and during the summer, the hotel hosts a plethora of events, including fireworks and light shows every Saturday.
Admittedly, Airelles doesn’t come cheap, with room rates starting at over £2,000 per night, and of course, some people understandably have a cap on how much they will spend per night in a hotel. However, the entire stay and experience were worth every penny. Whether it’s standing in the Hall of Mirrors with no one but history for company, or the impeccable service and meticulous attention to detail, Airelles Le Grand Contrôle Versailles delivers an unforgettable experience.
If you want to book this experience, our luxury travel agent partners, GTC, can offer extra perks when you book through them. For 2023, these include:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
- $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay
- Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Like our review of Airelles Le Grand Contrôle Versailles? You can read other hotel reviews here.