Nestled away in the heart of Reims, only a 40 minute train ride from Paris, lies La Caserne Chanzy. A former fire station, this elegant hotel boasts 89 rooms and suites, 38 of which have views of the imposing Notre-Dame de Reims which stands directly opposite. The interior, heavily influenced by the calming hues of the champagne region, is careful to honour and respect the history of the building whilst maintaining a high end, luxurious feel. Featuring a stunning underground spa, delectable brasserie, interior courtyard and bar, and two meeting rooms, La Caserne Chanzy is a sophisticated option dripping in culture and style.
The minute you set foot inside the hotel, you are greeted by the most glorious scent, which is actually the hotel’s own signature perfume. Champagne accents feature heavily, not only in colour, but in the textures and details: the lobby lights resemble champagne bubbles, the bedroom carpets represent the region’s vineyards, even the back wall of the reception desk looks to be fashioned from bottle racks. You cannot help but feel fully immersed in the history and sensation of the champagne region. If there’s one thing this hotel specialises in, it’s the small details and nuances that help make it feel like home. The Winter Garden, a comforting seating area overlooking the courtyard, is decked out with cushions and games, perfect for a rainy afternoon. The “do not disturb” signs on the bedroom door cover both napping and champagne supping eventualities. Everywhere you look, the fabrics, textures, scents, everything has been carefully considered to maintain the ambience and feeling of contentment.
The rooms here are bright and airy, whilst maintaining a cosy feel. Although all of the accommodations are wonderful, the cathedral view rooms in particular are pretty special, and I spent several lazy mornings just sitting in bed, enjoying the spectacular view opposite (not to mention the illuminated spectacle each evening). Crisp cotton sheets and soft lighting make this the perfect place to enjoy a glass of champagne while you soak up the view. The bathrooms are large and modern, with waterfall showers, fluffy towels and robes, and an abundance of Sothys toiletries. Although there is plenty to see and do in Reims, you could quite easily while away a weekend here in your room and spa alone.
Speaking of Notre-Dame de Reims, if you’re into history or architecture, you’ll be able to take in far more than at the cathedral’s Parisien counterpart. There are far fewer tourists, giving you the space and time to really look around the building and learn about the hundreds of years of fascinating history surrounding the cathedral and its construction. Even if you aren’t much of a history buff yourself, you would be crazy to stay at La Caserne Chanzy and not take the 2 minute walk across the square to visit this magnificent building. The entire area is dripping with art deco details, as well as several historic buildings and monuments that fared a little better over the wars of the last century. Shops and restaurants are plentiful, meaning you’ll have more than enough to keep you entertained over a long weekend if you don’t fancy travelling outside of the area.
The hotel brasserie, La Grande Georgette, boasts the majority of the subtle nods to the hotel’s fire station past. Named after a fire truck (currently housed in the museum) which, incidentally, was named after the fire captain’s wife, Georgette (what a tribute). With a focus on local ingredients and elegant plating, the kitchen stands open and exposed in the centre of the restaurant, allowing diners to view the chefs in action. Witty tributes such as fire buckets to keep your champagne on ice and bright red extinguishers for your drinking water keep you immersed in the history of the building without feeling like you’re in a themed restaurant. The food, fresh and vibrant, and the staff, warm and attentive, mean you need not wander further than the ground floor for an excellent quality meal.
Why stay at La Caserne Chanzy:
A hotel filled with witty charm and luxurious accommodations, the location and history of the building makes this a must-stay location for 2020. Whether you’re a foodie planning on taking some champagne tours, a history buff or fan of architecture wanting to soak up the abundance of historic buildings and details Reims has to offer, a couple looking for a romantic spa weekend away, or a solo traveller just looking to do something different, this hotel has everything you are looking for.
Bookings can be made direct on the hotel website at www.autographhotels.com
Flights from the UK are plentiful and well priced, the closest airports being Paris Orly and Charles De Gaulle International. I took the direct train from Paris Gare de l’est which took around 40 minutes and cost less than €15.
The Christmas market at Notre-Dame de Reims starts in mid November and runs until the end of the festive period. The hotel is perfectly placed for this unmissable experience, literally standing a few feet away from the first stalls.