Next on Your Bucket List A Stay at the Versailles Palace

Let yourself eat cake at Marie Antoinette's former abode, a World Heritage Site, now open to the public as a part-hotel
The grand Chteau de Versailles
The grand Chteau de Versailles

Throughout history, the grand and the powerful have built opulent residences to live in and leave as their royal legacy. But they most certainly never envisaged commonfolk gracing their chambers, halls and gardens, as the latter now do throughout the world, in heritage hotels and former palaces throughout the world. These common folk might not be so common after all, but royal addresses have steadily been thrown open to those who can pay for the privilege. 

The latest to join the ranks of these is the luxurious Ch&acircteau de Versailles in France. Called Airelles Le Grand Controle, the ultra luxe property will allow guests to sleep at a place that goes back 340 years and took half a century to construct fully. The hotel occupies three historical buildings Le Grand Controle (built by Louis XIV's favoured architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart and the building that gives the hotel its name), Le Petit Controle (the private residence of Marie Antoinette and her children), and the Pavillon.

The hotel's aesthetic and design sense is a nod to the era of this iconic royal couple. The year of choice is 1788, which was when the queen got her private residence renovated, and the Grand Controle was inventoried for the last time. The following year, the French Revolution broke out, and at its high point, both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded nine months apart, in 1793.

We'll spare you the devil of the grim detail&mdashit suffices to know that the last queen consort's taste informs the style and decor of the hotel, from nature prints, pastels, stonework and wall paneling, everything that would bring back memories of pre-French Revolution France if though you may not have any. One is certain to find no traces of technological vulgarity at this fine property.

The man of the moment as far as the iconic ducal residence's new avatar goes, is renowned architect and decor specialist Christophe Tollemer. The celebrated Monegasque chef Alain Ducasse helms the in-house restaurant where you can relish perennial French specials and a tea inspired by the soirees of Marie Antoinette herself.

But to really eat cake like the queen at Le Grand Controle, one has to pay handsomely too. To spend a night here&mdasha privilege so far accorded only to courtiers apart from royals&mdashprepare to be left $2,000, or a lakh and a half Indian rupees poorer. The hotel has 14 units&mdashrooms and suites&mdashand the hotel has views of the palace's famous Orangerie, also conceptualised by Hardouin-Mansart. Swoon over the Piece d'Eau des Suisses, an ornamental lake, soak in the 45-foot long indoor pool or experience vintage decadence at the spa (by a Swiss skincare giant).

Unlike regular visitors, regular guests will have access to the exclusive halls, gardens and palace gardens of the World Heritage Site. You will get a butler, daily tours to the palace, and breakfast and afternoon tea.

The hotel opened its gates on June 1. France has not yet restarted travel from countries that have been affected by severe surges in the contagion, including India, Brazil and South Africa. 

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