It gave everyone’s favourite celebratory tipple its name, but France’s Champagne region has more to offer than sparkling wine. The region’s majestic châteaux, rolling landscapes and grand hotels are worth raising a glass to as well.
It’s not all about the bubbly, you know. Yes, the main reason to go to Champagne is to hop from cellar to cellar and drink gallons of sparkling wine, expertly made here after it was cultivated by Benedictine monks as far back as 1513. But even if you don’t touch a drop of champers, the region is worth visiting thanks to its gorgeous landscapes and quality hotels – from fairy-tale châteaux to modern eco-conscious pods. Even better is that they’re bookable on Culture Trip.
Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa
Hotel, Spa Hotel
4.6/5 (50 Reviews)
Courtesy of Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa / Booking.com
With lovely views to go with your several top-ups of bubbly, this stylish luxury hotel in the village of Champillon is certainly fit for a royal. Floral ombre wallpaper and linen as soft as a kitten’s belly mean that all the suites are lush. But for something truly special, set up camp in the aptly named Panoramic Suite, with a corner location that offers vistas over the vineyards. Or, for sipping champagne in the evening, there’s the Marie-Louise Suite with its own private terrace.
Villa Primerose in Arcis-sur-Aube couldn’t be better for exploring the Champagne region if it was placed there by tourists themselves. Easily accessible from Paris, Reims, Troyes and Châlons-en-Champagne – and close to the area’s lakes, Champagne routes and factory outlets – the B&B helps to seriously cut down on travelling time. It’s an added bonus that the villa that gave the hotel its name is a striking building that dates back to 1890.
Unlike anything else you’ll experience in the region, La Réserve de l’Aube doesn’t have rooms but “zomes” – wooden cocoons in odd geometric shapes. Designed to connect with the Aube landscape, the pods – Walnut, Fig Tree and Cherry Tree – come with large triangular windows to allow light to stream in, and skylights in the bedroom and shower to gaze at the stars. Add a wooden deck that’s perfect for sundowners, and this is tailor-made for romantic getaways.
A 17th-century château straight out of a fairytale that’s even surrounded by a moat, Château d’Étoges doesn’t have to work too hard to impress, though the kitchen still does. Situated in the orangery with a terrace and a panoramic view over the château and its park, the gourmet eatery has earned Michelin recognition. You’ll order dishes like roasted pigeon breasts or half-lobster with fresh pasta and squid ink, which are as easy on the eye as the surroundings.
Hostellerie La Briqueterie
4.5/5 (134 Reviews)
Courtesy of Hostellerie La Briqueterie / Booking.com
Located in Vinay-en-Champagne near Épernay on the slopes of the Marne River, Hostellerie La Briqueterie was built on the site of an old brickyard in 1973. Since then, the building’s hard edges have been softened – first with an extension in 1990 and then an extensive refurbishment in 2006. Among other things, a spa area was added, plus a gourmet restaurant with cherry wood panelling, a fireplace and a large bay window.
Courtesy of Logis Hôtel Clos de Mutigny / Booking.com
This family mansion on the edge of wooded grounds in La Chaussée-sur-Marne was once owned by artist and illustrator André des Gachons – an eccentric man known for painting thousands of delicate watercolours of weather systems and sending them off to the national meteorological service in Paris. Everything here remains pretty as a picture, in particular the hotel’s garden, while a patio is ideal for soaking up the sun.
Given its history, it’s surprising Château de Rilly near Reims doesn’t have Champagne coming out of the taps. The birthplace of De Lossy Champagne, the 18th-century castle once had cellars containing more than three million bottles of bubbly. It’s now in the hands of the Serena family (big wine producers from Italy) who, when renovating, stayed true to the classic, elegant style of the original building.
Addresses don’t come much more exclusive than the spot where La Villa Eugène finds itself. Located on Avenue de Champagne in Épernay, the hotel has Champagne houses Moët et Chandon, Mercier and De Castellane as neighbours on a street believed to be the most expensive in the world thanks to the millions of bottles of champers in cellars below the surface. As befits its perch, La Villa Eugène is luxurious throughout, including a magnificent conservatory and heated outdoor pool.
As you would expect from a hotel located in a former convent, Hôtel Pasteur in Châlons-en-Champagne is a wonderfully tranquil place. The real showstopper is an ornate, 17th-century staircase that leads to tastefully decorated rooms incorporating the hotel’s sun logo. There’s a shaded terrace to while away balmy afternoons, while adjoining restaurant Le Petit Pasteur serves scrumptious, traditional French dishes.
Hôtel de la Vinaigrerie makes the most of its location in Joinville right on the Marne River and the Champagne-Bourgogne Canal. Arriving by boat? Pull up to the hotel’s private port. Fancy some adventure? Rent a canoe and get paddling – or seek out one of the great fishing spots around. If all else fails, you can’t go wrong come nightfall: you’ll be spending the night right on the banks of the Marne in a chalet or on the hotel’s barge.