“Why don’t you go have a glass of Champagne?”
Wrapped in a bathrobe, I’ve just had an energizing massage in the hilltop-sited Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa’s glorious temple to wellness, a spa edged by vineyards that overlooks the fabled wine city of Epernay, a UNESCO-protected landscape in France’s storied Champagne region. Ensconced in this spellbinding hotel, cleverly re-imagined from the bones of a centuries-old inn where bygone kings and queens of France, not to mention that rascal Napoleon, stopped enroute to Reims, I’d scheduled two spa treatments for a morning of repose — with a free hour between the treatments for ease. I’d planned to sip a soothing cup of chamomile tea while I waited, but when the spa director indicates that no harm will be done (nor judgment made) should I choose to tipple the fruit of this region, I wander up to my design-centric suite, a den awash with references to the nature that surrounds (from leaf motifs to vine-like weaves to lighting suspended like twinkling stars) and pop open a bottle of Leclerc Briant Champagne. I taste it on my terrace, inhaling crisp air, drinking in the terrain as much as the wine. Golden and emerald this time of year, it rolls out as a vertiginous swirl of vines and evocative villages nestled into the expanse as precious as gleaming gift boxes. The scene looks how what’s in my glass tastes: effervescent, subtly elegant, and beguiling.
Suddenly I think of that deliciously defamed hedonist Marie Antoinette. She loved a bath — not to mention spa treatments. In her honor, I move to my suite’s luxurious bathroom to indulge, filling the huge, white bath to the top. Apparently, Marie Antoinette took her soaks submerged for hours in a deep, white, marble tub — much like my suite’s own — or so I imagine. Feeling queenly, I yield to the Champagne region’s slightly sinful vibes, day drinking, and bathing. But, I don’t become Marie, empress of grace, beauty, and indifference, all the way. According to historians, the noblewoman ritually followed her baths by slathering a questionable anti-aging concoction of pigeon juice (don’t ask), egg whites, and cognac on her face. Never fear: I reject this aspect of being Marie Antoinette, much preferring my upcoming myBlend facial, aptly administered by a Clarins-trained therapist in the Royal Champagne’s airy spa— sans pigeon juice mais bien sûr.
More on the Region and Drinking My New Favorite Champagne
It’s true that in the Champagne region, you can taste 25 Champagnes (or more) in a day without turning heads. Brag about your prowess, if you must, but there will always be somebody who has tasted more vintages than you, sipped better ones, or opened a bottle with more style. I will boast, nevertheless, and proclaim that in one day while gallivanting about with experts from Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa — and under the tutelage of famed winemaker Hervé Jestin — I have the utmost luck to tipple two different labels from Maison de Champagne Leclerc Briant’s Cuvee Abyss. This outstanding zero-dosage wine is aged for months under the Atlantic Ocean. Does it taste like the sea? Yes, In a good way: bright, mysterious, otherworldly.
Wellness in the Wine Country? Why?
Admit it: when you think of hiding away for a week for a wellness getaway, you imagine an outpost in the desert with rigorous early morning hikes or a yoga retreat by the sea. In fact, France has been a pioneer in the wellness and beauty industry for centuries, including the era when Marie Antoinette sought (and sometimes failed) to maintain her health and boost her beauty. From water cures to non pareil botanical elixirs and creams, France maintains intrinsically salubrious habits, such as moderate daily wine drinking, a healthy attitude toward food, and a penchant for living life to its fullest (art d’vivre). At Royal Champagne & Spa, guests can experience the allure of classic French wellness (and stylish elan) in the retreat’s 16,000-square-foot spa. Here, an outdoor infinity pool hugs a hill, and a tranquil indoor pool serves as a centerpiece to treatment rooms and wellness stations, including a yoga room, sauna, hammam, and state-of-the-art fitness studio. Treatments, many in collaboration with French, family-owned Clarins, run the gamut from facials to massages. Health-forward options can be found in the all-day restaurant Bellevue, especially at breakfast. Road-weary or sleep deprived guests can take advantage of Royal Champagne’s sleep-inducing ‘Royal Sleep Experience, which features a jet lag fighting evening meal composed of slumber supportive ingredients and mocktails. The in-room, snooze-spurring amenities by French beauty brand AIME combine with lavish linens, light blocking curtains, housemade herbal tea, and a bedside meditation box ensure a solid siesta.
More on the Hotel
Easily accessed from Charles De Gaulle airport by train in 40 minutes, this paradisiacal hotspot for wine lovers and wellness seekers places you mid-vineyard, walking (or bike riding) distance from Hautevillers, the village where Dom Perignon is buried, steps from an atmospheric hamlet called Champillon. With a Le Royal, a Michelin-starred restaurant, tasting rooms, and talented sommeliers ever willing to pull bubbly magic tricks from their top hats, this design-savvy hotel has just 47 spacious rooms and suites — all with Champagne vistas. Blissful and assiduously attune to details (from sashes on uniforms to plates in Le Royal with words from Napoleon’s love letters), Royal Champagne also gets high marks for its art collection, eye-popping design details, on-the-mark service, and deep connections to Champagne powerhouses around the region.
Featured image courtesy of Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa.