Retaining its crown as the best hotel in town, the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux is the perfect place for any discerning traveller, writes Nick Constance.
Located in France’s South Western region, the Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa remains the go-to place for any discerning traveller passing through. It was here in 1871 that Victor Hugo pronounced these prophetic words from the terrace of the Café de Bordeaux: “If you want to stop wars in Europe you need to create Europe”.
This elegant building boasts the same neoclassical-inspired façade and Corinthian-style colonnade as when it was built in the 18th century. Inside you’ll find classic luxury décor by Jacques Garcia, including plush velvet sofas and artworks by local photographers, echoing the artistic leanings of this charming, but vibrant city. No wonder those A-list notables feel so at home, either laying low behind big sunglasses or peacocking on the glamorous rooftop Beach Bar.
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Every part of the Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux is swathed in opulence and grandeur and the Spa is no different. Les Bains de Léa offers luxury treatments by acclaimed French beauty brand NUXE.
A comprehensive menu offers everything from a 30-minute facial to the lavish Escapade Harmonie, a full-blown makeover lasting a staggering four hours and 45 minutes. I immerse myself in a 90-minute (Olympe) massage, which, not only does things to the soles of my feet, but stokes my spiritual soul too. Taking up two floors and flooded with natural light, the Spa opens onto a terrace, offering spectacular views across the rooftops. Also very handy for when the warm, sunny days arrive in Bordeaux.
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Room to move
We were given an Executive Suite and our breath was completely taken away as we stepped across the threshold. Never mind the Nespresso machine, the giant Loewe television and the large bathroom, the (extra large) bed was the most comfortable we’ve ever slept in: fabulous in the truest sense of the word. As with the rest of the hotel, the room is decorated in 19th-century style.
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In the Grand Hôtel De Bordeaux guests are truly spoilt with dining options. Michelin-starred Chef Stéphane Carrade oversees operations in both the Brasserie Le Bordeaux restaurant and L’Orangerie, a buzzy, slightly less formal space in the heart of the hotel.
Classics from beef tartar to fois gras are on offer, while you sip cocktails inspired by the Opera’s production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (the Romeo, strong and masculine with whiskey and orange, the Juliet, light and flirty with champagne and berries). Leave room for pudding though, as you’ll be tempted with all manner of devilishly good concoctions from the dessert ‘chariot’. A number of dishes are rather melodramatically prepared at your table.
Commenting on Chef Carrade’s appointment, General Manager Yan Vacher says, “Alongside wine, food is an integral part of the Grand Hotel De Bordeaux experience”. He’s bang on the money there.
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Being opposite the Opera House has its benefits; the hotel offers special packages that allows guests to access backstage areas. The 1000-seat theatre features exquisite details such as a ceiling painting and swathes of plush velvet curtain. It’s enough to make you feel like Anna Karenina.
The Grand Hôtel De Bordeaux is also perfectly placed should you need a quick (or leisurely) shopping fix. The hotel sits on the edge of the classiest shopping district in Bordeaux, with French favourites Sandro, Maje and Zadig & Voltaire, as well as gorgeous independent stores. There’s even a pop-up Christmas market selling Canelés, macarons and traditional festive gifts.
One gets the impression that this place has seen its fair share of romantic indiscretions, which only adds to its charm. The magic that clings to the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux & Spa is intoxicating. Final word goes to Claire Casimir, the hotel’s Marketing & PR guru. “I love my job, I love Bordeaux”, she says. We’ll drink to that.