PaperCity Magazine

January 2018- Dallas

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63 T wo stone columns mark the entrance to the Hotel Royal in Évian, France. You have just arrived, after driving an hour around lake Geneva, through quaint hundred-year-old villages, and crossing the border from Switzerland into France. The slick Mercedes that fetched you gently rumbles over a gravel road, and a palace reveals itself from behind a garden of manicured foliage. It is a Belle Époque masterpiece, with its white frontage and rich, chalet-style wood windowpanes and terraces. It appears that it has been here forever — 109 years, to be exact. If Wes Anderson were to seek inspiration for a film starring turn-of-the-century aristocrats, he must look no further. It doesn't take long to feel transported. There's a spirit in the air, which calls to mind a Tolstoy countess, having departed St. Petersburg to take the waters in Évian. It's likely an Anna Karenina-type did make her way here, as regal Europeans have long come to the Hotel Royal, which opened in 1909 in honor of Britain's King Edward VII, who frequented Évian for its casino, golf course, and the healing properties of the mineral water. Queen Elizabeth II and the Aga Khan III have all signed the hotel's golden guestbook. Hotel Royal is still revered for its discreet luxury and reputation as an healing escape for refined wellness — a handsome sporting guide can arrange hiking trips in the nearby French Alps, or boating excursions on Lake Geneva; and the spa is famous for its Évian- branded treatments. But the key to the hotel's majesty is its history, which has been impressively preserved. The lobby retains the original mosaic floor, with an elegant floral design; above, magnificent frescoes (all original to the hotel and beautifully restored) mirror the fauna. The elevator, its carriage modernized in glass, is surrounded by intricate ironwork, original to the hotel. Furniture throughout is overwhelmingly antique, with all originally made for the hotel — brass beds, wood desks, crystal light fixtures, armoires, dressing tables, grandfather clocks, bookshelves and more — painstakingly restored and re-placed in rooms, suites, and common areas as part of a two-year renovation led by interior designer François Champsaur, which was completed in 2015. The integration of historic decoration and art into the hotel's lounge, guestrooms, and restaurants (the casual La Veranda and gastronomic Les Fresques) makes for an authentically rich setting rarely seen in hotels today. It is, to the detriment of so many historic properties, far too costly to preserve the old and easier to purchase new. Here, no expense has been spared. From my balcony, the snowcapped French Alps shine in the distance, the lights of Lausanne glitter from across Lake Geneva, and the rooftops of houses in the center of Évian are just down the hill. As legend has it, my German ancestors took the waters here. I imagine them floating down these halls in dinner jackets and ball gowns. For that was when leisure was a staple of living — a notion that, at Hotel Royal, has stood the test of time. Rooms from $402. Hotel Royal Évian, 13 Avenue des Mateirons, 74500 Évian-les-Bains, France; IN EVIAN TAKING THE WATERS BY CHRISTINA GEYER WANDERINGS Hotel Royal The Grand Salon Le Bar The Olivier Amsellem Suite A detail of the mosaic floor

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