Bordeaux was undergoing a marvelous rebirth, courtesy of Mayor Alain Juppé’s revitalization projects, when Luxury Travel Advisor visited the city—just a short trip from Paris—this past summer. For years called “Sleeping Beauty” by its citizens, Bordeaux has emerged from a long snooze to become one of the hottest destinations in France. The Regent Grand Hotel Bordeaux defines this renaissance. It reemerged in 2008 after six years of renovation and work combining eight historic buildings. We say it is the city’s first real luxury hotel—and a dramatic one at that.
French designer Jacques Garcia, known for his over-the-top style and no-holds-barred approach to color, was responsible for the restoration. Steeped in the city’s cultural heritage, Garcia channeled the theatric to his design, adding whimsical fairytale flourishes that pay tribute to the opera house across the street. Two symbols of the city, the Grand Théâtre and The Regent Bordeaux, face each other across the famous Place de la Comédie, their neo-classical facades both built by architect Victor Louis in 1776. To secure opera tickets for your clients, make arrangements with Concierge Bastien Lalanne ([email protected]; 011-33-557-304-300), whose team is known for its “spare-nothing” service.regent.com
Insiders tell us that many celebrity guests book the Royal Suite (No. 411), the crème de la crème of accommodations, just to have access to its 1,000-square-foot terrace with knockout views of the opera house. The rooftop terrace, which also has a Jacuzzi, is accessed by a spiral staircase in the middle of the sprawling suite. Contact Director of Sales Lena Lalanne ([email protected]; 011-33-557-304-330) when making bookings for your VIPs. Other regal rooms include five Prestige Suites, each equipped with a beautiful wine bar and serviced by a private sommelier (on request).
Encompassing five different room categories, the 150 guest rooms are individually decorated and configured. Some rooms are done up in rich wine tones offset with gold, while others have a blue color scheme and walls of toile. Our Deluxe Room was a cocoon of luxury, swathed in fabric. (The wallpaper is said to conjure the image of theater curtain drapes). Lavish touches include Nespresso coffee machines, iPod docking stations, marble bathrooms with heated floors and Anne Sémonin bath products in every room. Complimentary Internet access is available throughout the hotel. Note: There are seven rooms with balconies on the fourth floor. No. 226 occupies a corner of the building, affording excellent views of the fireworks during annual summer festivals. Request a room with a balcony or a view of the Place de la Comédie when booking.
Garcia, honored as a knight of France’s Légion d’honneur, also fashioned the hotel facilities in unabashed luxury. (Note: The hotel’s Fashion Alley, a glitzy gallery of haute couture boutiques, was designed by Italian architect Ferruccio Laviani.) Of all the event spaces, the Sauternes Room is particularly noteworthy, boasting original 18th-century ceiling artwork, marble floors and Baccarat chandeliers. The hotel’s two-level Brasserie l’Europe, designed in Belle Époque style, has already become a favorite local hangout; the outside terrace is the perfect setting for people-watching in the summer. The morning buffet spread in La Brasserie l’Europe is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the mouth: freshly baked breads and Bordelais pastries, specialty juices, cooked-to-order eggs, a heavenly assortment of jams and honey. The cozy Victor cocktail bar, with gold leather chairs, honors two Victors from the hotel’s history: the architect Victor Louis and author/statesman Victor Hugo, who used to haunt the Café de Bordeaux. Garcia’s design of the gastronomic restaurant, Le Pressoir d’Argent, was inspired by the seafood on the menu: above the doors, a mosaic of inlaid seashells; on the walls, framed photographs of underwater sea-life by Pierre-Yves Hervy Valliant.
Le Pressoir d’Argent takes its name from the restaurant’s silver lobster press, one of only five in the world. We sat down with Head Chef Pascal Nibaudeau, awarded the Gault Millau d’Or in 2009, to learn about the elaborate process by which a Breton blue lobster, first presented live to the diner, is transformed into an artful dish. After the lobster is pan-cooked in the kitchen, the sauce is finished right before your eyes, as the lobster’s shell is compressed in the press. There’s an air of drama to this tableside demonstration; the press is spun three times to produce the juices, requiring a lot of strength and finesse. Nibaudeau trained under Michelin-starred chef Yves Mattagne, who champions tradition and a return to the classics, in Brussels. Nibaudeau believes in the use of noble ingredients—only the best—prepared with technical skill. In his restaurant, as Nibaudeau pointed out, clients are also treated to a real luxury of space at large tables, simply set and without much adornment.
Buzz: The Regent Bordeaux will open a luxury spa in early 2010, a unique offering in Bordeaux. Occupying the fifth and sixth floors, the 10,000-square-foot Les Bains de Léa spa promises head-to-toe pampering with 12 treatment rooms, a sauna, a hammam, a rooftop swimming pool and panoramic views.
|A Junior Suite. There are 16 in all at the hotel.|