Airelles this week has announced the opening of its seventh property, Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle. Le Grand Contrôle is the first hotel to open within the grounds of the Château de Versailles with views over the Orangerie, the Pièce d’Eau des Suisses and the Château.
Le Grand Contrôle is housed within a building constructed by Louis XIV’s favorite architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1681. Now two centuries on, the property has been restored by architect and interior designer Christophe Tollemer, offering 14 rooms and suites, dining by Alain Ducasse, a spa by Valmont (along with an indoor swimming pool), and exclusive access to the Château de Versailles.
Each of the 14 rooms and suites is named after prominent individuals who had a strong association with Le Grand Contrôle or the Palace of Versailles. Decorated individually in an 18th-century style, the rooms have authentic fabrics, chandeliers, artwork and artifacts, including a love letter from Madame De Staël to her lover Louis, Comte de Narbonne-Lara. The property is largely furnished with original period furniture and Tollemer worked closely with Emmanuelle Vidal-Delagneau, a specialist in French heritage and art, in the selection of authentic art and objects from the 17th and 18th centuries.
As well as Vidal-Delagneau, a number of French artisans and craftspeople were commissioned to restore and recreate the many historical features, including parquet flooring, fabrics, stonework and wood paneling. To note: Maison Pierre Frey has created period wall hangings for each room, displaying original designs taken from the Château archives. Themes include flowers and butterflies that are characteristic of the “return to nature” advocated by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rosseau.
Guests of Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle enjoy a number of exclusive experiences, providing access to areas of the Château and grounds that are normally closed to visitors. There are also boats and golf carts on hand to explore the Grand Canal and gardens at leisure. Each stay includes the following experiences:
- Private tour of The Trianon: Each morning, before the arrival of the general public, hotel guests are invited to join a tour of The Trianon and The Queen’s Hamlet (Le Hameau de la Reine); the tour differs each day with the guide showcasing different areas, including Marie Antoinette’s English Gardens and Louis XIV’s Grand Trianon
- Private tour of the Château: Every evening once all visitors have departed, hotel guests can enjoy an intimate tour of the Palace itself, taking in the King and Queen’s State Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and previously unseen living areas of the sovereigns
- Unlimited Access to the Orangery Gardens: Guests are invited to visit the gardens at any time of day
There is also a selection of additional experiences available, such as after-hours access to the Hall of Mirrors, a Marie Antoinette-themed day (including a costume fitting), a private performance at the Royal Opera, private dining with a string quartet in the former apartment of Louis XV’s daughters, and the chance to follow in the footsteps of former head gardener to the royals, André Le Nôtre.
Ducasse at Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle // Photo by Renée Kemps
At the heart of the guest experience is the “aristocratic” culinary offering provided by Alain Ducasse. With 20 Michelin stars to his name, Ducasse’s menus highlight gastronomic delights from both past and present inspired by the flamboyant nature of Louis XIV’s meals. With views onto the Orangery parterre, Ducasse at Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle serves a selection of reimagined French classics during the day, along with a dedicated Marie Antoinette afternoon tea. Dinner is a more theatrical affair—reminiscent of the King’s royal banquets—with the restaurant team in period costume serving an array of gold, silver or vermeil dome-covered dishes. A bell rings at 8:30 p.m. to signal the beginning of dinner, where guests experience a five-course gourmet feast commencing with a selection of soups and starters followed by roasts and salads, then dessert and, finally, fruit.
Each Sunday a royal brunch is served, directly inspired by “Le Grand Couvert,” an ancient French ritual where the king and queen would dine in front of the public. An impressive buffet takes center stage, filled with classic dishes and seasonal ingredients, as well as some dishes being served directly to the table. A highlight is the King’s Soup in a nod to the past.
Spa, Relaxation and More
Valmont Spa // Photo by Renée Kemps
The Valmont Spa is home to a hand-painted fresco and Carrara marble checkerboard floor, directly inspired by the Palace’s marble courtyard. Guests can relax in a 50-foot indoor swimming pool, Hamman and sauna or enjoy a restorative program from Swiss skincare experts Valmont. A signature 90-minute “Majestic Mirror” facial treatment has been developed especially for Le Grand Contrôle, designed to nourish and sculpt the face and décolleté. The treatment includes the trademark Valmont regenerating collagen mask treatment.
Good to know: Le Grand Contrôle can serve as the backdrop for private events, including intimate weddings, private dinners and exclusive launches for up to 54 guests. For the ultimate “wow” factor, there is also the option of hosting an event inside the Palace itself followed by an exclusive overnight takeover, accommodating up to 36 guests across the 14 rooms and suites.