King for a Day
Bloomberg Businessweek|August 23, 2021
At Le Grand Contrôle hotel, guests are treated like royalty— on the grounds of Versailles, no less.
Lindsey Tramuta

Our server begins breakfast by pouring a golden-hued bouillon from a gilded, hand-painted pitcher into a delicate crystal cup. He’s wearing a long floral cutaway coat and burgundy culottes. “Messieurs-dames,” he explains, “the king used to begin each day with a glass of vegetable broth before eating anything else. We invite you to do the same.”

Then another server, in a voluminous skirt and floral bodice, places a generous platter of freshly baked pastries at the center of the table. When the morning feast ends and all the early risers make their way out, staff members stop what they’re doing and stand in near-salute to offer guests warm wishes for their afternoon.

So starts the day at Le Grand Contrôle, the first hotel within the gates of the Château de Versailles.

The 14-room hotel is a marvelously detailed re-creation of monarchic life before the revolution—nearly every painting, desk, mirror, and piece of tableware is a genuine Louis XVIera antique. If it sounds a little Be Our Guest, it is. In fact, it’s a lot like living in your own fairy-tale palace fantasy.

By being anything but modern, ironically, Grand Contrôle sets a new bar for what contemporary luxury can be: hospitality as theater. Staff can arranges symphonic concerts and dinners in royal apartments inside the château; instead of turndown chocolates, you might find a soft nightshirt at the foot of the bed. And you don’t need to share the Carrara marble pool deck with anyone if you don’t want to, as the staff can arrange a private swim at any hour.

The hotel is so lavish in its amenities and renovations that the room rates—which start at $2,077 a night, including some meals and activities—come off as a bargain. Open since June, Grand Contrôle is a halo property for billionaire Stéphane Courbet, the French business mogul and president of the privately owned entertainment-focused holdings company LOV Group.

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