The historic heart and Renaissance core of this Saône-side district of Lyon, France, spoils with this rich selection of storied places to stay, all bookable on Culture Trip.
Occupying a gently sloping sweep of riverside sandwiched between the snaking Saône and leafy Fourvière hill, Unesco-listed Vieux Lyon is a beautifully preserved slice of the old city. The great wealth that the area saw during the 15th and 16th centuries is evident in the abundance of opulent mansions and exquisite medieval architecture. Today, designer boutiques jostle for attention with Michelin-starred restaurants and oh-so-chic wine bars among a maze of cobbled lanes, and the area also has more than its fair share of first-rate hotels.
The stately Haussmann-style architecture of this hotel hints at its former incarnation as a bank, and the interior shares the same buttoned-up chic. Smart contemporary guest rooms all come with first-class bedding, and some also feature innovatively integrated bathrooms. Head to Le Rooftop for panoramic views and veg-forward cuisine – it’s also a top spot for handcrafted cocktails. A super-central location puts old Lyon less than 10 minutes away on foot.
Housed in a 14th-century building a short stroll from the quayside, Hôtel Saint Paul combines period features with great value for money. From singles to triples, simply decorated rooms provide all the necessities for a comfy stay. Enjoy a decent continental breakfast at the hotel opposite, and if you’re arriving by car, the hotel can arrange parking nearby, which is a boon in this part of town.
The swanky Hôtel Mercure Beaux Arts is set in a beautiful 19th-century building in the well-heeled 2nd arrondissement of Lyon – just across the Saône from Vieux Lyon. Smartly updated rooms are soundproofed from the city bustle outside, with quality bedding helping you get a good night’s sleep. Upgrade for an in-room Nespresso machine, or just head downstairs for an excellent breakfast buffet service.
Le Phénix overlooks the Saône and the Pont la Feuillée; be sure to book one of the river-facing rooms for the best views at this Renaissance-era hotel. Many also come with bubble-tub bathrooms, while the interiors are mostly modern chic with the occasional period touch. A varied breakfast service offers everything from French continental to full English options. In the evening, a piano bar opens for drinks in a cosy, vintage-style atmosphere.
With stained-glass detailing framed by elegantly flowing wood, the art nouveau-era origins of the Grand Hôtel des Terreaux are evident in the colourful facade. Rooms in this grand 19th-century townhouse are individually styled, melding cosy modernity with the ornately classical. A wonderful indoor pool, with ancient stone arches that are the remnants of an old church, is an atmospheric highlight. The 1st arrondissement location puts it within short walking distance of Vieux Lyon.
Tucked within a 14th-century traboule – secret covered passageway – this five-star hotel is the artful fusing of four Renaissance townhouses. Plush guest rooms offer a mix of high-end touches that include the likes of hand-painted frescoes and claw-footed tubs. Inspired by Roman baths, the spa features a pool with a waterfall. Post-pamper, you can relax under the shade of bamboo in serene hanging gardens. To top it all off, the restaurant, Restaurant Les Loges, has snagged a Michelin star.
Few hotels enjoy such superb snapshots over the city as Villa Florentine, set into the tree-covered hillside that overlooks Vieux Lyon. The former convent does old-school luxury with aplomb, combining Renaissance architecture with five-star facilities and white-gloved service. Take a dip in the heated year-round outdoor pool, or soak limbs in the outdoor jacuzzi with views. Rooms all have the likes of marble bathrooms, fluffy bathrobes and premium toiletries. Fine dining via tasting menus comes with a side serving of cityscape views.
Positioned in the corner of a pretty plaza, steps from the Vieux Lyon riverfront, Mon Hôtel Particulier has a winning location. Accommodation comes in the form of apartment-style suites, each with an individual personality reflected in its name. They all inhabit a handsome Renaissance building dating to the 15th century, which features modern decor punctuated with the odd period feature. Kitchens and dining areas give that home-from-home feel, and some are set over mezzanine levels.
No two rooms are alike at Hôtel des Célestins, though all sport various arrangements of patterned rugs, parquet floors and antique furnishings, jazzed up here and there with pops of colour. If you’re staying a while, choose an apartment with cooking facilities and a fireplace. Wake up to the smell of just-baked French pastries and fresh coffee for breakfast, before heading out into the 2nd arrondissement, a bridge crossing away from Vieux Lyon.