Stay Here: La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa, FranceBy Jodie Duddy
Standing opposite the imposing yet blasé Notre Dames de Reims, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is La Caserne Chanzy, a hotel and spa that the city has long been waiting for. After having been left empty since 1993, it opened in August after a 4-year refurbishment that transformed it from an abandoned World War I fire station into an elegant hotel that continues to honour its heritage. Marriott’s unique Autograph Collection created more than just a hotel in La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa, they created a celebration of the city of Reims itself.
La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection boasts 89 rooms, 30 of which have a view of the Cathedral that rivals its Parisian sister. The hotel is sleek and intimate thanks to warm lighting and a spa-like scent that entices all those who enter the lobby. The scent was developed specifically by the Autograph Collection for La Caserne Chanzy and just as their tagline suggests; it is – exactly like nothing else. All the décor of the hotel is to remind visitors of the champagne from a shimmering gold colour scheme to a bottle rack backdrop behind the front desk. The lines on the bedroom floor represent the vines in the vineyard and the shower screen was hand-painted to represent the bubbles in champagne.
The courtyard overlooked by suites further back in the building is the perfect location for an intimate drink in the warmer months. Every day at 6 pm there is a 15-minute ceremony to honour the history of the fire station outside the drying tower in the courtyard. This was where the fireman’s water pipes were hung to dry out. Staff members here are proud of the history of La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection and the wider Champagne and eager to share these tidbits of history with guests. You get the impression that staff genuinely love working here, Reims really had been waiting for a hotel like this to serve the community. They’ve created a real sense of belonging here, beige and gold, and shimmering.
The onsite spa is a triumph in its own right and an alternate entrance means that members of the community can also enjoy its features. These include a multi-level hammam, two saunas, an ice bucket shower and dispenser for closing the pores post-steam and a jet pool with massaging features. The spa is small, chic and private and adds that extra relaxation factor to your trip without having to leave the hotel.
You don’t have to stray far from the hotel to get some excellent quality French cuisine either, just downstairs. La Grande Georgette is the hotel’s Bistronomic restaurant named after the fire engine that once belonged to the station, which rather unflatteringly was named after the fire chief’s wife, Georgette. The waiting staff wear a navy and red braces and bow ties. Clever accessories are incorporated, including fire buckets to chill the champagne and a fireman’s bell and press. The restaurant is light with big windows and has a chic cool-toned metallic look that contrasts with the warmth of the hotel itself.
The restaurant features a traditional open-plan kitchen that allows you to see the chefs cooking the dishes not just doing the garnishes. The menu is traditionally French with a focus on seasonal produce. They stock roving champagnes and try to stock more independent and lesser-known brands for guests to try. I highly recommend the Tuna ceviche, leche de tigre, citrus starter for a fresh and zingy start to what is guaranteed to be an unforgettable meal.
La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection Review: What to Do
There’s plenty to see and do in the city of Reims. It’s bustling with shops and the wider Champagne region is rich with history and wine-making tradition. Notre Dames de Reims was the traditional location for the coronations of the French monarchy and holds great cultural importance.
Millions upon millions of champagne bottles lie in cellars under the unsuspecting streets of Reims, in an underground network that once kept locals safe from bombing in the first world war. In fact, 80% of the city was destroyed which explains the eclectic architectural style. There are many independent champagne houses, so there is always something new to try and endless tours of champagne cellars to discover – perfect for the wine buff!
The traditional Christmas market takes place in the shadow of Notre Dames de Reims each year, which guests can view from a front-facing suite window. The locals tell me that the market is not to be missed which means next Christmas I have an excuse to go back to this incredible city…
La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection Review: Our Verdict
The Autograph Collection champions individuality, all the hotels in their portfolio offer a story and no two are the same. La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection is a beautiful hotel which honoured the essence of Reims and France’s Champagne region. Perfect for history, culture and wine lovers alike, La Caserne Chanzy is a real treat of a stay.
La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection is approximately 1 hour 35 minutes by car from Paris-Charles de Gaulle. Rooms start from €199 per person per night. To book or find out more information, book here.