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Trianon Palace Versailles

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Cigar Aficionado's 20th Anniversary, September/October 2012

As symbols of over-the-top, Old World, royal living go it’s hard to top France’s Palace of Versailles, with its 2,300 art-filled rooms, resplendent gardens and grandiose Hall of Mirrors. Alas, you can’t stay there anymore. But perhaps the next best thing is a visit to the Trianon Palace Versailles, the opulent hotel adjacent to the château. If not exactly as regal, it does have the advantage that its guests don’t have a record of losing their heads.

Being an easy walk or bike ride from the former Bourbon residence you’ll want to tour it, and the Trianon is perfect decompression to get your mood right for such an excursion. The 199-room hotel takes its stylistic cues from Versailles with grand public spaces, soaring columns, marble archways and crystal chandeliers. The manicured exterior with centuries-old trees and lush gardens, updated by the landscape designer Louis Benech, is a fine jumping off point for what lies so close. Despite offering every modern electronic amenity, the spacious rooms are decked out with Louis XVI-style furniture and will have you well-rested and in the right mindset for historical jaunts. If you have a suite with a balcony, step through the French (of course) doors, look out across the fields where sheep graze and then feel years begin to peel away.

The hotel, which opened in 1910, has its own rich history. It served in both World Wars (first as a hospital and then as the Allies supreme headquarters). Its Clemenceau Ballroom is where the Treaty of Versailles was hammered out before being signed in Versailles’s Hall of Mirrors, in 1919. Becoming something of a jet-setter’s haunt after the Second World War, it was renovated in 2007 and became part of the esteemed Waldorf Astoria Collection in 2009.

You’ll enjoy exquisite French cuisine at the Gordon Ramsay au Trianon, which cooks up specialties like raviolo de langoustine d’Écosse and pigeon de Bresse. Dining al fresco on the terrace is a special treat. A postprandial cocktail at the lounge is another delight, and you can even take a drink at the bar by the enormous heated indoor pool.

Guests also can enjoy amenities that the residents of Versailles were denied, e.g., the 30,000-square-foot Spa Guerlain, nearby golf escapes and much easier access to the delights of Paris (20 kilometers away) than the members of Louis XIV’s court in their horsedrawn coaches could ever have dreamt of. Now that’s royal living.

Visit trianonpalace.com.

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