Blessed with sigh-inducing vineyard views, Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa was once a favourite spot of Napoleon’s. The former coaching inn has been given a new lease of life with a modern makeover, a Michelin-star restaurant and a sprawling spa for some serious pampering. Life here revolves around the finest bubbles, whether you’re sipping them from crystal flutes or gently blowing them in the two seductive pools.
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Champagne tasting (including three varieties) and a cheese board for two
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability. Late check-out until 6pm costs half a night’s stay.
Double rooms from $357.08 (€323), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.50 per person per night on check-out.
Rates exclude the buffet breakfast of muesli, fresh fruit, cheese, smoked salmon and cold cuts (€33 each for adults, €25 for children). The kitchen can also rustle up hot dishes such as waffles and crêpes (€12) or avocado and poached eggs on toast (€18).
Borrow an e-bike from the hotel to explore the postcard-perfect hills – the extra power will come in handy on some of the steeper inclines.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, yoga classes, electric bicycles to borrow, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, air-conditioning, minibar, Illy coffee machine, Hermès toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Delicately dressed with ombré floral wallpaper, pale wood and the softest of linens, the suites are all enticing. If you’re forced to play favourites, go for a Panoramic Suite – strategically poised at the corner of the building for sweeping vineyard views – or plump for the Marie-Louise Suite, a sprawling hideaway with a private terrace just made for bubbly sundowners.
Pale and interesting, the hotel’s striking infinity pool overlooks the vineyards and has an inviting terrace kitted out with parasols and sunloungers to take in the view. It’s open from April to October and heated, so you can take a dip on sun-kissed spring and autumn days. Open year-round, the 25m heated indoor pool is equally sleek, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and elegant grey loungers strategically positioned to make the most of the tranquil vistas.
Decked out in pale wood and metallic tiles, the Royal Champagne Spa has nine treatment rooms, including two for couples, and you’re free to use the sauna and hammam. Book ahead for body-and-soul ministrations at the hands of expert therapists, from champagne facials to candle massages. High-tech treatments from cult beauty brand Biologique Recherche can be tailored to your needs for a two-hour beauty-and-wellness boost.
Bring some stylish (but sturdy) flats to pootle around the vineyards, plus yoga wear to join in with sun salutations.
The hotel’s public spaces are all accessible to disabled guests. One Garden Junior Suite and one Royal Junior Suite have bathrooms adapted for wheelchair users. Help yourself to soft drinks from the free minibar.
Welcome. Extra beds and cots can be added to the rooms, and the restaurants have high chairs, colouring sheets and baby-changing facilities, and will happily cater to little ones with half portions. Babysitting is available for €35 an hour.
If you’re dining en famille, Le Royal’s central wooden table is the most dramatic. Nab a window table at Le Bellevue for glorious countryside views.
Suits and silks wouldn’t go amiss in Le Royal: pick something high-waisted, perhaps, to echo the Empire silhouettes in the dining room’s oversized portraits. Le Bellevue’s vibe is more laid-back: think chinos and impeccable breton stripes.
Tasteful, grown-up Le Royal is dressed in interesting greys and shades of honeycomb, with plenty of space around the linen-draped tables for intimate conversation. Book at least three weeks in advance for a chance to sample chef Jean-Denis Rieubland’s effervescent cuisine: his deft use of Aubrac beef, local game and the garden’s own produce has earned the spot its first Michelin star. Chic brasserie Le Bellevue is more casual, but no less enchanting: feast on crowd-pleasing Reims ham, herb-crusted chicken and ice-cream sundaes.
Take a stool beneath the crystal chandelier at sophisticated Abysse, where bartenders are as likely to tempt you with an expertly mixed cocktail as a glass of Pinot-rich Leclerc Briant champagne. Apéro hour is best savoured on the terrace; if you’re feeling peckish, nibble on caviar blinis or squid tempura from the tapas menu.
Le Bellevue is open from 7am to 9pm. Le Royal serves dinner from 7.15pm to 9.30pm; it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays. Abysse pours tipples until 1am.
Simple salads, sandwiches and pasta can be brought to your room.
A 20-minute drive from Reims, this peaceful retreat overlooks the vineyards in the charming village of Champillon.
Paris Vatry airport, a 50-minute drive away, serves low-cost flights to Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The international hubs of Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are just a 90-minute drive away,
Services from Paris Est, Strasbourg and Reims stop at Épernay station, a 15-minute drive away.
It’s worth bringing your own wheels to explore Champagne’s rolling hills and under-the-radar cellars at your own pace. Drop your bags off in front of the hotel on arrival; there’s free valet parking on site.
If you’re making a grand entrance by helicopter, the nearest landing point is at Épernay’s Plivot Aerodrome.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’d be no shame in staying put: a few laps of the pool, a gentle wander around the surrounding vineyards or an afternoon at the spa may be just what the doctor ordered. Rich with culture and tradition, the Champagne region begs to be explored. Pack an Hermès head scarf to keep those locks in place during a cabriolet tour of the nearby villages or a hot air balloon ride, both of which the hotel can arrange. A drive down Épernay’s Avenue de Champagne acts as a Who’s Who of top producers: grand maisons such as Moët & Chandon or Mercier host tours of their impressive estates and cellars. Make time for family-run smaller labels, too, who often host drop-in tasting sessions of lesser-known vintages and can happily part with a case or two to take home. Ask hotel staff for a recommendation, or drive around the villages of Aÿ or Avize (easily spotted by its towering oversized bottle of champagne) to see where luck takes you. If you’re craving a spot of urban buzz, make time for a day trip to Reims, if only for the spectacular cathedral where French kings were crowned for 1,000 years.
Nostalgic but chic, La Table Kobus takes its inspiration from the Belle Époque brasseries of Paris. It’s an intimate spot for classic fare with a twist: foie gras with champagne liqueur, say, or seared scallops with a butternut-squash mousse. The elegant Château de Sacy is the setting for up-and-coming Les Vignes, where chef Nicolas Cristoforetti marries creative flair with old-school touches, such as a cheese trolley. In Épernay, La Grillade’s chef Christophe Bernard trained with Paul Bocuse and Alain Ducasse and knows his way around open fires and impressive cuts of meat.
Half an hour’s drive away in Verzy, the Perching Bar is hardly a neighbourhood haunt, but it’s worth the trek for a chance to sip on a flute or two of champagne in a treehouse bar nestled high above the forest grounds.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury hotel in Champagne and unpacked their sabres and flutes, a full account of their countryside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa in Champillon
Perfectly poised on a hilltop in the heart of wine country, Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa is a rural escape par excellence. Rumoured to have been favoured by Napoleon and his entourage, this former coaching inn has had a sleek and modern makeover. Today, 47 intimate suites – all turned towards sweeping vineyard views – welcome the weary traveller home. That’s not to say it’s abandoned the old-school art of hospitality: exquisite dinners at Michelin-starred restaurant Le Royal are served with flair on beautiful linen, the spa pampers and pleases, and champagne, naturally, flows freely at the bar. A stone’s throw from Épernay and Reims, this boutique bolthole may be within easy reach of the region’s wine tastings and rural escapades, but there’s plenty here to tempt you into a more soporific state. A lap or two in Royal Champagne’s magazine-worthy pools, we wager, may be all that’s needed to let any niggling worries float away.
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