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LUXURY HOTEL: VILLA MAIA, LYON, FRANCE 

THE VIEW FROM my room is incredible. Lyon is spread out below me like an oil painting. I can see right across the city rooftops. It is night and the river Saone is ribbon of inky indigo, the city beyond glows with bronze light.

This new hotel is the flagship project of the French-owned Maïa group, and no expense has been spared to make it very special indeed.  It has only been open just over a year and already it is bringing a whole different class of luxury travellers to Lyon.  In 2016 the city was voted best for a European weekend break and the addition of the Villa Maia only increases the city’s appeal. 

Villa Maia Lyon
Villa Maia Lyon
Villa Maia bar
Villa Maia bathroom
Villa Maia lounge
Villa Maia bed
Villa Maia pool
Villa Maia view

This was the spot where the Romans choice to build their most exclusive villas back in 43BC and the hotel sits close to the Roman amphitheatre which hosts concerts and theatre performances on warm summer nights. Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte was mindful of the area’s history when he designed the hotel around a walled garden with Roman arches.  My room looks out onto the splendour of Lyon but across the way my son’s adjoining room looks down into the beautiful garden where landscape designer Louis Benech (of Paris’ Jardin des Tuileries and Versailles restoration fame) created a wild and fragrant city oasis.

Inside the hotel starry interior designer, Jacques Grange, (possibly the most revered designer in France who numbers Yves Saint Laurent, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Catherine Deneuve and many more among his famous clients) has created an eclectic and elegant space which uses glass, marble and warm neutral walls as a backdrop for some extraordinary art. 

The art is everywhere. Chief concierge Francois Mequinion dispenses invaluable advice in a salon with totem-pole art installation by Parisian sculptor Guy de Rougemon; I pop into the hotel bar for an almond-flavoured cocktail and the area is dominated by a pop art panel by British artist Peter Gee and over my bed is a circular photographic artwork by Parisian artist Charles Maze.

A glass panel divides my bathroom from the bed so even when soaking in the tub I can appreciate the glorious view. My marble bathroom has automatic heated floors and towel rail and a remote-controlled Japanese toilet. Bespoke toiletries by Louis Benech ensure the scents of his garden (carnations, irises, magnolia) remain with me all day. While the hotel’s signature scent was created by the perfumers of Grasse.

We have one day to explore Lyon before we head off to ski in the Alps. It is a crisp winter morning and after a hotel breakfast of  freshly baked croissants, organic jams and sweet brioche sprinkled with pink Lyonnais praline we head down into town. A winding road down the hill leads straight into the cobbled street of the old town where we wander through covered courtyards and past traditional Savoie restaurants secure in the knowledge that if we don’t want to walk back up a funicular takes us back and almost to the hotel door. 

In the evening we head to Têtedoie across the road from the hotel, where Michelin-starred chef Christian Têtedoie creates locally sourced, modern French cuisine. With more of those panoramic views through the wide restaurant windows we raise a toast to Lyon and Villa Maiia with a local Savoie wine. Afitting end to our stay.

Check in: 8, Rue Pierre Marion, 69005 Lyon, France
Ultimate Luxury: The 95sqm ‘apartment’ offers a separated bedroom, a living and dining room and a private terrace with a city view 
Most Indulgent Moment:  Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte calls the views from the rooms a “living picture” and he’s right.
The Little Things:  Real books to browse and board games to play in in the library
Junior Luxies: Not specifically catered for but welcomed. 
Dress code: Smart casual
Dent in the platinum: 
Luxury Hotels Link: www.villa-maia.com ,  www.lhw.com , www.lyon-france.com
 Hilary Doling, 5/3/18
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