Ambiance & Vibe:
After walking past the understated entrance to the hotel, (which is flanked by two lively brasseries) you are struck by the exquisite 19th century French inspired interiors of the lobby and common areas, which reflect the aristocratic heritage and elegance of this magnificent city. The intimate reception area and lobby, decorated with black-lacquer wrought-iron lamps, brightly colored brocade velvet couches, pleated silk shades, rich tapestry and huge vases of flowers result in a sophisticated but relaxed setting.
The rooftop lounge – Night Beach, is a chic haven of relaxation, replete with bar, jacuzzi, comfortable outdoor sofa seating and stunning 360° views of the Bordeaux skyline. At night, Night Beach turns into a trendy hotspot with mellow lighting, cocktails flowing, a DJ spinning and a swish crowd milling about.
Le Bordeaux by Gordon Ramsay probably has the best location for a Café in Bordeaux, with al fresco dining facing the gorgeous Opera House, and is a top meeting place in town for socializing and noshing on some excellent brasserie fare.
Design & Style:
The imposing and aristocratic heritage hotel is a landmark in Bordeaux, dating back to the 1770s, and was designed by the same architect who built the Grand Théâtre (now the opera house) just across the Place de la Comédie. Renovated by renowned Parisian designer Jacques Garcia, the hotel’s voluptuous interiors invite you to step back in time to a world of elegance and glamour of the era of Napoleon III. Whether you are relaxing in the lounge or attending an event at one of the Belle Epoque style meeting rooms, the splendor and opulence of the bright colored period furnishings, rich velvet fabrics and lacquer wrought-iron lamps is all around you, giving a sense of pedigree and sophisticated French luxury. The rooms are elegant and refined, decorated with a mix of 19th-century style furnishings and chandeliers, and dashes of richly colored brocade fabrics, with marble bathrooms. The decadent Roman bath–inspired spa is another design highlight, with its soaring red columns, life-size sculptures, chaises longues, wall frescoes and geometric tile mosaics.
Each of the 130 extravagantly decorated rooms including the 44 suites has its own unique refined interiors and no two rooms are exactly alike in term of layout. The rooms go up in size and comfort starting with the Superior rooms at 27 sqm, Deluxe Rooms at 38 sqm, Junior Suites at 48 sqm, Executive Junior Suites at 54 sqm, Prestige Suites at 70 sqm to the Royal Suite at 110 sqm. All the rooms feature 19th Century style plush decorations and upholstery and deploy a palate of voluptuous, jewel toned fabrics to give a refined and warm ambiance and come with marble bathrooms. We loved our Junior Suite with a bird’s eye view of the majestic Grand Théâtre and the Place de la Comédie.
The neoclassical style Prestige Suites feature a private wine bar lounge and offer a fantastic view over the Garonne River and the Opera House while the Imperial style Royal Suite offers a spectacular 100 sqm private terrace with jacuzzi and panoramic views over Bordeaux.
Gordon Ramsay helms the fine dining and brasserie restaurants at the hotel, which are a main draw for locals and tourists alike.
Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay: This 2 Michelin Star, sumptuously furnished signature restaurant is visually stunning with a warm and intimate ambiance and features a sublime and creative seasonal menu. The extravagant interiors are adorned with bright mauve-orange colours, luxury fabrics and marquetry flooring. The A la Carte and tasting menus represent the peak of gastronomy, with a presentation of organic seasonal dishes from the terroir of Bordeaux, all expertly matched with exceptional regional wines (from a selection of 550 fine wines). Highlights in the menu include beef tartare in oyster cream, turbot baked in seaweed, Breton Lobster, and deserts include the delectable pear soufflé with honey, thyme and rosemary ice cream.
We had the pleasure of indulging in the 6-course tasting menu with wine pairing, (not including the amuse bouche and palate cleansers served with Krug Champagne) which was a diving dining experience, served by highly trained and impeccably mannered staff working together like a well-oiled philharmonic orchestra.
Le Bordeaux Gordon Ramsay: The all-day menu of the hotel’s brasserie is comprised of regional South-Western Fench fare with a British touch. Among the favorites are: Beef Wellington, Fish & Chips, Steak Tartare, Arcachon Oysters, Caesar Salad, Lobster Bisque, Burgers and deserts such as chocolate fondant and lemon meringue pie, washed down with a fine selection of Bordeaux wines. The service is efficient and courteous and the al fresco sidewalk terrace offers exceptional views of the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux and an opportunity to soak in the atmosphere of the lively street scene at one of the prime socializing spots in the city.
Bar l’Orangerie: The hotel’s signature bar is located after the reception area in a two-story winter garden style atrium with a glassed-in roof with plenty of natural light. The ambiance is cozy and elegant and décor reminiscent of a refined English style indoor garden. The bar menu includes everything from the signature afternoon tea to salads, crepes, sandwiches, burgers, Arcachon oysters and Aquitaine sturgeon caviar, along with a wide selection of cocktails and fine Bordeaux wine.
Night Beach: This chic and relaxing rooftop lounge serves light meals and tapas for lunch and dinner, along with its signature cocktails. At night, with the cocktails flowing, the DJ spinning and with its panoramic 360° views of the Bordeaux skyline, this trendy lounge is the place to see and be seen.
The gastronomic dining options at the Intercontinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel:
During our stay, we ate breakfast and lunch at Le Bordeaux by Gordon Ramsay, evening cocktails at the bar l’Orangerie, dinner at the 2 Michelin star Le Pressoir d’Argent by Gordon Ramsay and after dinner drinks at the rooftop lounge Night Beach, and found the food and service at all locations to be exceptional. The service is perfectly timed and courteous, but the staff are warm and genuine too, delivering classic French hospitality. Our experience while checking in and out was also very efficient to and so was the interaction with the knowledgeable and helpful award winning “Golden Keys” concierge team, which are no doubt the best in Bordeaux. We used the concierge service extensively, from chauffeur-driven transportation, recommendations for the best wine tastings, cultural attractions, gourmet walks and private tours of famous wine estates in a unique “London Cab”.
Facilities & Activities:
Facilities – Night Beach: Equipped with an Instagram worthy jacuzzi, comfortable outdoor sofa seating, a cozy bar and adorned with plants, parasol pines, and mellow lighting, this chic rooftop terrace is a top socializing spot in Bordeaux. At night, with the cocktails flowing, the DJ spinning and with its panoramic 360° views of the Bordeaux skyline, this trendy lounge is the place to see and be seen.
The Spa NUXE Les Bains de Léa: is a 1,000 sqm sublime, lavishly decorated two-storey oasis of relaxation and wellbeing, inspired by Roman baths. The decadent décor comes replete with Roman pillars, life-size sculptures, chaises longues, wall frescoes and geometric tile mosaics. The enticing heated indoor pool is a highlight and is visually stunning, with majestic red pillars traversing its two storey height. Up on the second floor is reception and lounge area where you can have tea and snacks before or after your massage. The spa’s world-class facilities include a fitness center, separate men’s and women’s locker rooms, a hammam, steam room, sauna and 10 treatment rooms. The menu includes a wide range of beauty and body treatments including unique relaxation experiences such as a sauna aquatic experience with massage jets, hydromassage bath, oriental scrub room and back massage under a Vichy shower.
Activities: Bordeaux is the capital of southwestern France and is distinguished by its ornate 18th century architecture that has earned it the title of “Little Paris” and World Heritage status by UNESCO. This port city and center of the world’s most famed wine growing region has been named as “Europe’s best destination” and “the world’s best city”, according to various prestigious travel publications. This is a city known for its great epicurean lifestyle, where world class gastronomy, art, history, culture and shopping are craving for your attention as much as its legendary vineyards.
Thanks to their extensive knowledge of Bordeaux and the region, the hotel’s ace award winning “Golden Keys” concierge team will guide you in choosing and booking the best cultural and epicurean experiences Bordeaux has to offer. The hotel’s concierge team offers a unique “Wine Concierge Service” which helps you discover the secrets of fine Bordeaux wine by organizing exclusive wine tasting courses and private custom-tailored cellar tours of the most prestigious wine estates including the legendary Left Bank appellations of Margaux, Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe and Pauillac, and Right Bank appellations of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol.
The concierge team will also help you discover the exceptional cultural heritage of Bordeaux within the context of unique experiences including: (1) A helicopter (or would you prefer Harley Davidson?) tour of famous Châteaux ending with a gourmet picnic in the heart of a vineyard prepared by the Chef and presented in sublime Limoges porcelain (2) Cultural discovery tours of Bordeaux’s old city center, with its many craft shops and vast number of outdoor cafés (3) Gourmet walks to the food markets including exploring The Marché des Capucins, also known as the “belly of Bordeaux’, which is the largest food market in Bordeaux with organic regional fruits and vegetables, fresh bakery products, cheese, wine merchants, snack bars, fishmongers and oyster growers (4) Booking one of the popular wine tasting courses at Maison du Vin de Bordeaux (5) Organizing a bike or boat tour of the waterfront along the Garonne river bank and ending with a private tour of the awesome riverside Cité du Vin wine museum and gallery (6) Private day tour to Oyster Farms in Arcachon Bay to taste some of the best oysters in the world, washed down with some crisp dry Chablis wines from Bordeaux.
The top 10 must see attractions in Bordeaux including the following: (1) Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André (2) The grand Place de la Bourse, overlooking the Miroir d’Eau reflecting pool (3) Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux (4) The Esplanade des Quinconces, the largest downtown city square in Europe (5) The Grand Théâtre Opera House (6) The Rohan Palace City Hall (7) Cité du Vin, an imposing wine museum, the only one of its kind in the world, located along the banks of the Garonne (8) St. Catherine Street, with its many luxurious boutiques and sidewalk cafés (9) The district of Chartrons, a former headquarters for traders, antique dealers, and artists alike (10) The medieval Saint-Michel district, with its stone tower – the Fleche St-Michel and its flea-markets and outdoor food markets.
The hotel occupies “ground zero” of the pedestrian-friendly city center of Bordeaux, in Place de la Comédie, which is a square where the main streets of Bordeaux converge, including the main shopping street of Sainte Catherine. The hotel is right opposite the Grand Théâtre Opera House and a short walk to the primary cultural attractions, thriving riverfront, food markets, chic boutiques and cafés that Bordeaux is famous for. Bordeaux is a 1 hour flight from Paris and 3 hours by TGV train. The train station is only 10 minutes from the hotel while the airport is 30 minutes away. The closest tram station and the Bordeaux Tourism office is just a 1 minute walk from the hotel. The closest wine estates are on the outskirts of town, about 20 minutes by taxi.
What We Love:
- Location – The hotel occupies a prime city center location in the heart of “The Golden Triangle” right opposite the Opera House, and within a short walk to the major attractions in Bordeaux.
- UNESCO World Heritage architecture and sumptuous, refined rooms with period furnishing, many of which have jaw dropping views of the Opera House and Garonne river.
- The Michelin two star – Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay restaurant is a main draw and we enjoyed a memorable 7 course meal with wine pairing, accompanied by precision and flawless service.
- The chic rooftop lounge bar – Night Beach, with its awesome 360 degree views over the rooftops of Bordeaux, is one of the best chilled out socializing spots in Bordeaux.
- The majestic column-lined indoor pool and extensive wellness facilities and elegant ambiance inspired by Roman baths at Spa Nuxe Les Bains de Léa.
At about 27 sqm, the entry level Superior rooms are a bit small, although this is not unusual for European hotels, and the bathrooms in most of the rooms do not feature some of the mod cons such as dual sinks and rainshowers.
Best Time to Visit:
The prime time to visit Bordeaux is between June and August, with the famous Bordeaux Wine Festival being held in mid-June every year. Spring and Autumn are also good options if you prefer fewer crowds and lower rates. Wineries start their grape harvests in late August, so September is a good time to witness the harvest season, although some of the wineries start closing to visitors at this time of the year. Christmas is also a very festive time to experience Bordeaux, with its many Christmas markets.