Words: Kirsten Durward Photos: Monica Tindall
Commanding an Imperial position opposite L’Opera on the Place de la Comedie, Intercontinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hotel, is an iconic assemblage of seven former magnificent houses. The neo classical façade, created by architect Victor Louis, provides a mirror image of The Great Theatre, which stands opposite, and some of the grander suites enjoy a view of that iconic building. The hotel building was originally designed as a town palace and still retains a regal and imposing grandeur.
The hotel is old style plush, exuding a sensation of an age gone by, with velvet banquets and floral walls festooned with draperies. Long corridors and hidden staircases lead to splendidly outfitted spacious rooms and suites. Like many of the suites our accommodation boasts a comfortable living area complete with private coffee/wine bar. It’s a little kitsch but it works and I imagine that this style is beloved of visitors from every corner of the world, imagining themselves to be part of European high society. Despite the antique styling, the facilities are modern and up to date. Our roomy bathroom offers dual sinks and vanity area, rainforest shower and a deep tub bath. High speed Internet is free flowing and a large flat screen TV is discreetly fitted on the wall of the sitting room.
Guests at the Intercontinental can enjoy a range of delightful locales to take a bite, relax with a café au lait or imbibe a glass of the regional wine. Step back in time with the genteel charms of the Orangerie. Choose to enjoy an indoor or outdoor ambience for lunch or dinner, at the Brasserie Bordeaux. Foodies and celebrity hunters may like to try the newly opened Pressoir D’Argent, concept and menu designed by popular celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Oenophiles seeking to learn more can take advantage of a session with the hotel’s resident sommelier, or partake of one of the Wine Concierge Wine Journey Series. Guests may select three of the famous regional Chateaux to visit in style, being driven through the charming countryside in a vintage car. We hope to return in the future to try this exquisite experience for ourselves.
An opulent treat for your time at Le Grand Hotel would be a visit to Spa ‘Les Bains de Lea’ on the top floor. Flamboyantly designed in the style of Roman Baths, patrons can recline in splendor in the central pool area before or after enjoying a wide range of treatments at the adjoining Nuxe Spa. Spa visitors may also relax on the rooftop enjoying unparalleled city views, shaded Jacuzzi and flower lined seating areas. In the evening, after 7 pm, the rooftop is transformed into a happening bar ‘The Night Beach’, definitively one of the cooler places to take your sundowner in Bordeaux. Early evening provides a gentle ambience as the sun goes down over the city and the soft tones of sandstone buildings warm with rose in the fading light. As darkness draws in, the beat livens, with DJ tunes and the party vibe takes over. For residents and outside guests alike, The Night Beach is worth a visit to taste a cocktail and enjoy the views. For nighthawks who prefer to enjoy their entertainment inside, the Black Diamond is an exclusive champagne style nightclub hidden in the depths of the hotel, which thrums until the small hours.
Breakfast is served above the ground floor Brasserie, and is a reasonable buffet of cereals, fruits, juices, cold cuts, cheeses, with French breads and pastries. The hot station offers a cooked breakfast with grilled sausages, bacon, potatoes and that ubiquitous staple of hotels around the world, the made-to-order omelette.
Intercontinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city, at the end of the great shopping street Rue de St Catherine. In the winding alleys and side streets you will find a host of more eclectic boutiques, artisan shops and antiquaries – not to mention shady squares and churches at every corner. There are literally hundreds of local brasseries, bistros and tapas bars within a 15-minute walk of the hotel, one of which is the rather famed Brasserie Bordelaise, which specializes in one of the preferred dishes of South West France – Steak Frites. Just as easily, take a trip back in time with lunch or dinner at Le Chapon Fin, Bordeaux’s oldest restaurant with a refreshing change of pace and some stunning dishes to accompany a 1000 strong wine list. A locally mentioned wine bar is the CIVB Bar A Vin. We did not visit the establishment this time around but appreciated the enthusiasm with which it was recommended.
It is well worth a walk along the Garonne River, or in the verdant public gardens. Culture seekers will enjoy the range of interesting museums in the area. To venture further afield such as to the iconic new shrine to winemaking and wine history ‘Le Cité du Vin’ you will find the tram to be most convenient and it will bring you directly to the hotel’s side doorway.
Reasons to visit: a historical and grand icon for the city of Bordeaux; splendour of days gone past; roomy accommodations; rooftop views; central location
Intercontinental Bordeaux – Le Grande Hotel
2-5 Place de La Comedie
00 1 877-859-5095