Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux and Spa

23 May 2012 by BusinessTraveller

BACKGROUND The façade of this five-star property was built in 1776 by Victor Louis, the French architect responsible for the Corinthian-style Grand Theatre opposite. In 1999 it was combined with eight surrounding buildings and transformed into the hotel we see today, with French designer and architect Jacques Garcia responsible for the decadent interiors.

It opened in 2007 under the Rezidor Hotel Group’s Regent brand and is now a member of Leading Hotels of the World.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The hotel’s entrance is as grand as you might expect, with guests enjoying breakfast on the terrace outside, several top-hatted doormen ready to greet you and a lobby dripping with gold leaf, giant urns overflowing with grapes and beautiful floral arrangements. There were plenty of staff on-hand at check-in, and I was immediately impressed by the level of service when, on asking for a particular British newspaper to be delivered to my door the next morning, the receptionist rang around to see if she could find it as it wasn’t on their usual list.

The team of golden key-holding concierges were also particularly impressive during my stay – they recommended an excellent local restaurant and helped arrange a spontaneous private vineyard tour, which ended up costing a fraction of what the local tourist office was charging for group tours. Past the concierge and reception desks in the lobby, the hall opens out into a lounge area with plush red velvet, beige and black sofas. Past here is the Orangerie, a bright, white marble atrium winter garden, with floor-to-ceiling arched glass doors, Napoleon III-style green crushed velvet seating and verdant greenery all around.

Expensive handbags and other luxury items are on display throughout the lobby/lounge area, all from shops at the 400 sqm “Fashion Avenue” located alongside the hotel and within the side street entrance gallery. Brands here include Van Cleef & Arpels, Chopard, De Grisogono, and Gucci. In a nutshell, every inch of this property is five-star – there was evidently no expense spared during the refurbishment, but the finish is stylish, elegant and not at all fussy, with traditional elements fused with modern touches for a nice twist on a typical five-star French property.

WHERE IS IT? Within the “golden triangle”, Bordeaux’s historic retail hub. A metro station is located by the Grand Theatre opposite, and the riverfront and 1.2km-long pedestrian Rue Sainte-Catherine shopping street are a minute’s walk away.

ROOM FACILTIES The majority of the 150 guestrooms are superior, classic or executive rooms, which start from 25 sqm. These rooms have all had the luxurious Jacques Garcia-treatment, with soaring ceilings, period features and antique furnishings. Superior rooms feature Loewe flatscreen TVs, air conditioning, safes, minibars, free wifi, marble bathrooms with heated floors, fluffy robes and slippers and Anne Sémonin toiletries.

A step up to the deluxe category gets you a free daily newspaper, while executive rooms have the added benefit of views to the Grand Theatre and the Place de Comédie. I was in the latter category, and the views are well-worth the step up. Looking out across the square at the UNESCO World Heritage site buildings from a room steeped in period character, you are transported back in time.

The more spacious junior suites all have Nespresso machines and complimentary access to the Bains de Léa Spa (lower categories can only access the fitness area for free, spa entry is 38 euros per person or 60 euros for a couple) while Executive Junior Suites have views over the square.

The five Prestige Suites step up the decadence, with a private wine bar and drawing room, however the rooftop Royal Suite is on another level – literally, and figuratively – with the luxury and ample space of its interior matched by its 100 sqm private roof terrace, which features a dining area and Jacuzzi.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The ground and first floor Brasserie L’Europe serves simple fare done well, including burgers and Caesar salads – however this is one of the grandest hotels in the city, so the chef throws in foie gras starters and lobster mains for good measure (open 7am-11pm). A buffet breakfast is served here as well. Its ground-floor terrace is a great place to sip some wine in the afternoon and people watch in the Place de la Comédie.

Pressoir d’Argent is the fine-dining Michelin-starred restaurant, a dramatic space finished in deep purples and rich oranges. The restaurant, serving predominantly seafood, takes its names from the lobster press, which takes pride of place here and is one of only five in existence. The Orangerie is good for afternoon drinks, tea and pastries, while the Victor Bar has the feel of an English gentleman’s club.

Black Diamond, a bar and club, is popular with the city’s elite due to its VIP section – the noise coming from it at the weekends doesn’t quite match the hotel’s refined atmosphere, however. Being in Bordeaux, wine is of great importance and all bars and eateries serve impressive Grand Cru vintages – at L’Europe, they’re available by the glass.

A special feature recently launched is the wine concierge service – the “clefs d'or” team can arrange private tastings or vineyard tours, or simply offer advice and recommendations. Head sommelier Jean-Michel Thomas also runs a workshop. Both these services can be tailored and arranged for groups, making them ideal for incentives.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are seven meeting rooms, all named after different wine appellations, and four foyers. These are beautiful spaces with high-ceilings, period features, huge chandeliers and views over the city. The largest room can host 250 delegates for a reception.

LEISURE FACILTIES The 1,000sqm Nuxe spa (all products are Nuxe) is possibly the hotel’s best feature. Spread across the top three floors, it is a winding maze of black marble corridors, leading to seven treatment rooms and various saunas and hammams. The décor is Asian-themed, all dramatic reds and black. One of the most striking spaces is the pool, which is centred around towering red and gold pillars, with a light-well above.

Upstairs from here is a relaxation area where herbal teas can be ordered at the bar. However, the key feature that makes this spa stand out is saved for the top floor, where a huge rooftop terrace provides the most wonderful views of the city. Up here, among the domes and spires, the city below is silent and, at sunset, the changing colours of the rooftops are spectacular. There is also a Jacuzzi, sunbeds, tables and a lovely alcove at the front of the building overlooking the square, where couples can hideaway and enjoy the view.

VERDICT A truly stunning property, both in terms of the extremely well-finished refurbishment and the historic façade. The great service was a particular highlight, but the rooftop terrace and Jacuzzi has to be the clincher. The rates for entry-level rooms are certainly on the steep side, however a stay here should be considered an experience in itself.

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 128 rooms split between superior, deluxe and executive categories, 16 junior suites, five prestige suites and one royal suite.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The magnificent views across the square and the sumptuous decor.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in June started from €570 for an executive king room.

CONTACT Grand Hôtel Bordeaux and Spa, 2-5 Place de la Comédie, 33000, Bordeaux; tel+ 33 5 57 30 44 44; ghbordeaux.com     

Liat Clark

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