Have you been to Lyon recently? From the Nuits de Fourvière in the summer to the Festival of Lights in December, there’s always something going on in this 2,000-year-old city. Not to mention the good eating in France’s gastronomic capital. And now, there’s a new place to stay, with the June opening of the highly anticipated InterContinental Lyon Hôtel-Dieu inside the Grand Hôtel-Dieu, a hospital that operated continuously for eight centuries before closing in 2010.
The location couldn’t be more central; the Presqu'île is a peninsula formed where the Rhône and Saône rivers converge. The InterContinental shares the historic premises with a gourmet market, stylish boutiques and the soon-to-open Cité internationale de la Gastronomie, a museum dedicated to French gastronomy. Now owned by Crédit Agricole Assurances and Crédit Agricole Centre-Est, the hotel is the result of the biggest private renovation of a classified site in France — a joint project with Eiffage Immobilier and GENERIM.
Luxury Travel Advisor attended the inauguration, which was a celebratory affair after four years of construction work. A steady stream of visitors poured through the doors on opening day to gape at the hotel’s chic design, while passing cars honked congratulations. Many of Lyon’s citizens have a personal link to this monument and were understandably curious to see the results of the restoration project. Even the hotel’s fragrance — personalized by a Lyon perfume “nose”— has a connection to the city.
The interiors were designed by Jean-Philippe Nuel, whose studio has overseen talked-about projects such as the Molitor in Paris, InterContinental Marseille, and Ponant cruise ships. Nuel respected the building’s original architectural design — the contrast between grandeur and austere simplicity — as the monumental hospital was originally constructed as a place to heal poor pilgrims. The spot that best exemplifies this is Le Dôme Bar, which has a soaring ventilation chimney that was used to take “bad air” out of the hospital. Sit back with the signature Le Dôme cocktail, made with Elyx vodka, pink champagne and Lyon’s famous pink praline, and stare at the ornamental columns beneath the 105-foot ceiling.
The Prestige Suite, which has views of the hotel’s French garden, comes with a private terrace. //Photo by Eric Cuvillier
Booking Tips: Of the 144 guestrooms, we love the 28 Duplex Suites (like No. 254). They have 23-foot ceilings and enormous windows framing views of the Rhône; a touch of a button and the curtains theatrically open to reveal the river. This intuitive technology abounds. You’ll also find one-touch showers (no fiddling with knobs), and motion-activated night lights. The bathrooms are a place to linger. In a nod to the ancient Roman ruins found in Lyon, the rainshowers are elaborately designed in mosaic tile. There’s also a separate soaking tub, and magnolia-scented amenities by Frédéric Malle.
With a lofty perch overlooking Le Dôme, the Presidential Suite is a decidedly opulent place to sleep in Lyon. Private balconies on Le Dôme afford the chance to stare at the architectural details up close, while also people-watching the guests sipping drinks far below. The spacious living room can also be booked for a private event or special dinner. It’s possible to connect two additional bedrooms to this suite. (Note that the InterContinental Club Lounge occupies the identical space directly across Le Dôme.) For VIP bookings, reach out to Elodie Choquet ([email protected]; 011-330-762-413-684), high-end leisure sales manager at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. The general manager is Madelijn Vervoord ([email protected]; 011-330-426-181-784).
The Prestige Suite. //Photo by Eric Cuvillier
Head Concierge Artyom Osipov ([email protected]; 011-330-426-992-334) can arrange a number of original activities for guests. Lyon is famous for its centuries-old silk-weaving tradition, and guests can partake in silk printing workshops at Brochier Soieries, a nearby boutique. Other examples include wine tasting in the vineyards of Beaujolais or Burgundy, Rhône river cruises and special skiing excursions in the Alps (available seasonally). Last but not least: Osipov is happy to arrange Lyonnaise cooking classes in Les Halles Hôtel-Dieu, the food market right next door. There has never before been a market on the Presqu'île and it’s been a welcome addition. The project was spearheaded by Pignol, a reputed maison that started in Lyon in 1954, and some of the featured purveyors are fourth-generation artisans. Many are Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF), a prestigious award recognizing the best craftspeople in France. Others, like La Mère Richard — late chef Paul Bocuse’s preferred cheese purveyor — are long-established in the original Les Halles, the bustling belly of Lyon, renamed after Bocuse in 2006.
This being Lyon, food is a central focus at the InterContinental. At the Epona restaurant, it starts with a generous breakfast buffet split into sweet and savory sections. Think praline-studded brioche, honeycomb next to warm croissants and cocottes filled with steaming-hot dishes. For lunch and dinner, executive chef Mathieu Charrois pays tribute to local cuisine with offerings like quenelles, freshwater fish with Lyonnaise potatoes, Bresse chicken, and a cocotte of confit veal shank with beef marrow sauce. For dessert, don’t miss the praline tart, an homage to the Lyon specialty, topped with almond ice cream. Tip: When the weather’s nice, the outdoor terrace has lovely views of the Hôtel-Dieu’s columned passageways and leafy courtyards.
At Le Dôme Bar, guests can savor the signature Le Dôme cocktail, made with Elyx vodka, pink champagne, and Lyon’s famous pink praline, while marveling at the ornamental columns beneath the 105-foot ceiling. //Photo by Eric Cuvillier
Note: The InterContinental also manages an adjacent conference/events center called L’Académie. The hotel doesn’t have an on-site spa and fitness center, but instead has a partnership with Le Tigre, just a few steps away in the same complex. The Paris-based brand behind popular yoga, meditation and barre classes also has outposts in Monte Carlo and Deauville. The summer opening in Lyon unveiled a cool space with three spa treatment rooms. For bookings, reach out to Le Tigre’s Manager Adélie Meynet ([email protected]; 011-330-699-376-588). To use the 24-hour gym, InterContinental’s guests can simply swipe their key guard at a separate entrance.