A luxury getaway in France’s city of wine
TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON | PHOTOS © LE PALAIS GALLIEN BORDEAUX
Bordeaux may be best known for its expansive vineyards, but once guests arrive at this five-star city hotel, they could be forgiven for wanting the region’s famous wine to come to them.
Le Palais Gallien Bordeaux, a 27-bedroom haven – of which five are expansive suites – in the heart of the city, champions the art of relaxation.
In fact, its current guest packages are titled ‘cocooning’, and include a romantic dinner; a bottle of Champagne; and a couples’ massage, as well as memorable touches like rose petals artfully sprinkled across your bed.
Bedrooms vary from a boutique 25 square metres to a positively palatial 60 square metres and, depending on the room and level, include private terraces, Jacuzzis, and free-standing baths. The decor is varied, modern and eye-catching, meshing monochrome chic with vintage touches and edgy, contemporary design. The idea is to wrap guests up in luxury as soon as they set foot inside.
Part of the Le Boutique Hotels Collection group, the site is named after the nearby Roman ruins which include a third-century amphitheatre often billed as one of the last links with the ancient city. The hotel’s own architecture likewise echoes the city’s history with the interior courtyard design spanning centuries of Bordeaux’s architectural tradition.
Each of the hotel’s buildings echoes the culture of a different century, including what it calls the ‘3 M’: the famous French writers and philosophers Montaigne (16th century), Montesquieu (18th to 19th century) and Mauriac (19th to 20th century).
La Table de Montaigne
The 25-seat gastronomic restaurant is likewise named La Table de Montaigne – after the French philosopher – and serves creative interpretations of traditional French cuisine, under the passionate eye of chef Younesse Bouakkaoui, whose training includes stints with modern-day culinary legends, restaurateurs Thierry Marx and Jean-Luc Rocha.
The colourful, seasonal dishes include simple yet luxurious choices, such as artichokes with oysters and champagne; confit of local turbot in olive oil and spelt sourdough; or roast lobster with marjoram butter, all paired with exceptional local wine (as one might rightly expect for Bordeaux).
In another, lyrical nod to the work of Montaigne, the menu is presented in the form of ‘chapters’ and is very much indicative of the hotel’s ethos. A world away from the quick texts and short attention spans of the modern world, the hotel wants guests to remember that this is an experience to be cherished; a culinary book to be read, savoured, and thoughtfully considered.
But while the hotel’s style is unmistakably classic, its approach to its guests features a highly contemporary eye for detail and personal attention.
In the recently-opened Cocktail Bar, an intimately stylish lounge overlooking the garden, the head barman serves personalised drinks tailored to each guest.
Here, again, the hotel combines a respect for heritage with modern creativity: from the Monsieur Mauriac cocktail with bitter liquorice; the Montaigne Old Fashioned with smoked tonka and spiced cranberry; the Montesquieu with lychee, Chambord and Tequila; or the Alienord d’Aquitaine, with blueberry-infused vodka.
Those wishing for something lighter may opt for the Greenflower’s mix of gin, elderflower, cucumber and kiwi, while the non-alcoholic 8ème Jour offers a floral blend of Jasmine tea and hibiscus tonic.
Time to Relax
As a respite from the southern French heat, guests can also relax on chic loungers or daybeds on the hotel’s glamorous roof terrace alongside the brand-new, streamlined outdoor pool.
Guests can likewise order spa treatments directly to their room, and again, this is no time to rush: a wide selection of professional massages – including Thai, Californian or Shiatsu – are delivered in slots of between 60 to 90 minutes.
Those with tired feet from a day’s winery touring might choose a foot reflexology session, while anyone suffering from a touch of culinary overindulgence might opt for the lymphatic drainage, which promises to ‘release toxins, reduce fat deposits, and revitalise the skin’.
Anyone looking for something a little more energetic can also choose to work with an on-site personal trainer, who can offer in-room sessions or poolside coaching.
Le Palais Gallien’s aim is to create a haven for guests where they can leave the stresses of the outside world behind and enjoy the best of Bordeaux’s famous food and wine.