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Travel News

Historic Versailles mansion to become luxury hotel

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They don’t call it a queen bed for nothing. Who hasn’t dreamed of sleeping like royalty?

Now, your dreams are coming true.

They don’t call it a queen bed for nothing. Who hasn’t dreamed of sleeping like royalty?

Now, your dreams are coming true.

A historic mansion about a hundred yards from the Château de Versailles is being renovated into a five-star, 22-room luxury hotel, Grand Hôtel de l’Orangerie. Starting in March 2012, guests can spend the night for $650 to $950, according to Château de Versailles Deputy Administrator Mikael Hautchamp.

Since its erection in the 1680s, the mansion, called the Hôtel du Grand Controle, has undergone serious wear and tear.

“The wall here, it’s completely crumbling in parts,” Hautchamp said in an interview with NPR. “Many parts of this building are in this very damaged situation. It’s very difficult for us because our mission is to save heritage.”

Renovations are estimated to cost $7 million and should take about a year, according to a news release from the Château de Versailles. The Belgian company Ivy International has been commissioned to head the restoration and operate the property for 30 years. A portion of the profits will be paid to the Château de Versailles for rent.

Dominique van Lier, president of Ivy International, was excited to take on the renovations and conversion of the mansion into a hotel, project manager Louise Grether said.

“He had a great desire to turn this building that was in a bad state into a charming hotel,” Grether said. “Of course, no other project like this exists.”

In its heyday, the mansion was home to Versailles’ treasurers. Despite the many renovations, the mansion will maintain its history and culture, Hautchamp said. Ivy International must keep some historical pieces, including the chimneys, mirrors and floors.

“All the modern comforts will be available,” Hautchamp said. This includes televisions with international channels, a game room, a bar, a restaurant that can seat 40 people and a spa with a sauna and massage room, among other things. Grether added that a big library and the main hall will be celebrated centerpieces of the hotel.

Of the 22 rooms available for guests, six will be suites, with the biggest measuring about 1,000 square feet, Grether said. Two of the suites will include private gardens.

“Decoration is going to be in the style of the Château, but obviously with all of the luxury that comes with a five-star hotel,” Grether said. “The focus is definitely on comfort and luxury.”

Grether said the hotel will have electric bicycles on hand for guests who’d like to cycle around the grounds, as well as access to the “best” guides at Versailles, who can lead guests around the gardens.

Every day after 5:30 p.m. and all day Monday, guests can schedule private visits to the Château. And even when guests aren’t at the Château, they’ll still be able to see it.

“The most wonderful thing about this hotel is the extraordinary views that the guests will have overlooking the Orangerie,” Grether said. “You can look onto the garden while you take your cup of tea. It’s so charming and original.

“There’s no other hotel like it in the world.”