Needless to say Paris has a number of “palace hotels.” However, if you want to be next to the palace most people come to Paris to see, Versailles (#4 in the world, according to Travel + Leisure with over 7.5 million annual visitors), you will be a half hour outside the city. And the best hotel nearby Versailles is Trianon Palace, part of Waldorf Astoria, one of Hilton Worldwide’s two flags that play in the luxury market (Conrad being the other).
Built in Rococo style, it is located in a park about five minutes from King Louis XIV’s former abode. Grazing sheep in the park outside are supposedly descendents of those in the flock of Marie Antoinette, and the building has the historical significance of being the venue for signing the Treaty of Versailles, end to WWI. The (pictured below) Clemenceau Ballroom (named for the French Prime Minister) was the actual site where with Woodrow Wilson and others signed the documents. Since many historians consider the “winner take all” terms of the truce the seeds of WWII, it offers some deep thinking for any CEO who has to make critical decisions in both mergers and everyday deal making.
Like most luxury hotels these days, it’s not just about the bed, marble, white gloves and haute gastronomy. The keyword is experience, and with its close proximity to Versailles, there are numerous private visit opportunities to sections of the palace normally off limits to the public, private meetings with palace gardeners, historians, or even a private riding session at the Royal Stables, which at one time was home to over 700 of the King’s horses. They lived much better than many of the folks in Paris at the time.
While Louis XIV may have created Versailles to get away from the hubbub of Paris and keep his Nobles close enough that he could prevent them from revolting against him (another good business lesson – “keep your friends close and enemies closer”), Trianon Palace also makes sense if you need to stay over in Paris for a weekend, but don’t want to be in the city. It has over 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting, including catering from its Gordon Ramsey Michelin-starred restaurant, so it is good for events as well. In these troubling times, its outer walls and gates also make it a venue with good security and away from major target zones.
Trip Advisor rates Trianon Palace #1 out of 26 hotels in the area giving it 4 stars. If you are traveling with a group, rooms in the new wing where the conference center is located received several comments about not being to the same standard. The hotel was nearly full when I was there, so I wasn’t able to see them. In terms of other complaints, being part of a company with a points-based loyalty program, there are complaints from Hilton HHonors members who were unhappy with their upgrades or lack of. Expedia, which provides verified reviews, rates the hotel a 4.4 of 5, with 89% of guests recommending it. Top selling luxury travel agents I talked with like the hotel for the location (if visiting Versailles) and as a near Paris venue for meetings, events and parties (taking advantage of its park setting in warmer months). There were no shortcomings I found that would make you avoid the hotel, and again, if you are looking to be near Versailles, it’s pretty much the place to go.
This is the hotel’s version of a presidential suite, and it is on the 2nd floor at the farthest end of the main building from the reception. It takes up the entire end of the building, giving it panoramic views of the park, gardens, and courtyard. It can be expanded (from 1,614 sq. ft.) up to 3 bedrooms bringing it to about 2,475 sq. ft.
There is a living room, dining room, with service kitchen, walk-in closet, marble and tile bathroom with deep tub and walk-in shower, plus a treadmill in a hallway and two fireplaces. Its location above the Clemenceau Ballroom, which has an outdoor terrace, is worth a discussion before you confirm your booking to ensure there are no large events taking place.
Terrace Suites (601 and 602)
There are two Terrace Suites (1,184 sq. ft.), each on the 6th floor of the historic main building, however at opposite ends. Both are single bedroom, and 602 does not have an elevator, so you walk up from the 5th floor. The payoff is you have castle views, while 601 has a keyed elevator that brings you to its 6th floor location in the opposite turret, with views of the courtyard, gardens and park.
Both have outdoor patios big enough to relax on lounge chairs or have a romantic dinner when the weather is good. Both offer extreme privacy. They each have walk-in closets and separate walk-in shower and bathtub. They are the definition of a “love nest” and also a good place for a proposal.
King Deluxe Suite Park View
There are five King Deluxe Park View Suites, while slightly different are essentially standard 1-bedroom suites, some with options to add 1 or 2 connecting rooms. With a single bedroom, they are about 730 sq. ft., and have separate walk-in showers and bathtubs, something standard rooms don’t necessarily have. The park view suites with Marie Antoinette’s sheep grazing outside your window is a much better view than the courtyard, which looks onto the new wing and conference center.
Dining and Bars
The highlight is Gordon Ramsey’s 1-star Michelin restaurant on the ground floor with Parc de Versailles as the backdrop. There are only 10 tables, plus a Chef’s Table that is in a private enclosure, slightly elevated with a large viewing window into the kitchen. The Chef’s table seats eight (below), and it is charged as Euros 1,200 for six people, including a bottle of champagne, with Euros 200 per person for additions. Next door is The Gordon Ramsey Lounge which seats 60. For private dinners, you can seat up to 140 between the main dining room and the lounge. The restaurant closes in January annually.
Also by Gordon Ramsay, La Veranda has an attractive black and white décor by British decorator Fiona Thompson. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It offers a modern take on classic cuisine and in the summer months has an outdoor terrace where tables have views of Chateau de Versailles.
Terrasse du Bar Galerie during the summer adds garden armchairs and sofas. It serves a light menu of grilled fish, meat and salads. Inside, under the soft light of antique chandeliers, enjoy tea or sip cocktails. It’s open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, drinks and afternoon tea.
Spa and Fitness
The 3,100 sq. ft. Guerlain Spa is below ground level, however, it was built with a glass roof at ground level, letting the sun into its extensive 2,200 sq. ft. heated indoor pool, surrounded by two story high Roman pillars. There are 14 treatment suites, hammer and steam room and sun deck. The treatment menu is extensive ranging close to a dozen pages with sessions that can last nearly half a day. Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The fitness center features Technogym products, including leg extension, adductor, abductor, total abdominal, elliptical cross trainers, treadmills, a rower, high and low pull machines and two bikes. You can arrange personal training sessions, Polar BodyAge™ physical assessments, nutritional consultations, use two on-site asphalt tennis courts and an expansive warm-up/warm-down area.
Tennis and Golf
The hotel has asphalt tennis courts and can arrange access to Golf de Feucherolles or Golf de Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche.
Offering 14,500 sq. ft. of conference facilities, high-speed wireless internet access and audio-visual equipment throughout the hotel plus full-service business center, the hotel is a good venue for meetings. There are two grand ballrooms, including the aforementioned Clemenceau (with its dance floor), and 19 smaller, contemporary meeting salons. The hotel’s regal environment also makes it a good location for board meetings, product launches, weddings and other personal celebrations, including full takeovers.
Orly (ORY) is the closest major international port, about 15 miles from the hotel although there are sometimes customs delays. Le Bourget (LBG), the major private aviation airport serving Paris with multiple FBOs, is about 22 miles and is the port that is recommended as it is set up to handle private aviation. With traffic plan on 40 minutes to an hour for either. Both are restricted 24 hours operations. ORY has a longer runway 11,975 ft. vs. 9,813 ft. at LBG. Villacoublay-Vilizy Air Force Base is 5 miles away (5,948 ft. runway) but Adam Twidell of charter broker PrivateFly tells me you will need to get clearance from the French government to use it. Toussus Le Noble (TNF) is six miles to the south and has a 3,609 ft. runway with limited hours of operation, and sells fuel but does not have an FBO.
Gregoire Salamin, General Manager: +33 (0) 30 84 50 10 or firstname.lastname@example.org