During his stay in Valenciennes in 1767, Louis XV decided to set up a charitable hospital to receive the needy and sick from all over the province. Today, 250 years later, the domain has been restored to its former glory and is now the Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel, consisting of 61 luxury apartments, a four-star hotel with 79 rooms, a spa with swimming pool, a gourmet restaurant, a brasserie, two bars and a jazz club . The largest renovation of a French historic monument in private hands resulted in one of the most beautiful museum hotels in France.
Text Anja Van Der Borght – Pictures Yassine Hannati
We are very impressed when, after barely one hour’s drive from Brussels in our Mazda CX-5, Takumi we stand face to face with the gigantic, red brick walls of the listed monument that until 2009 still functioned as a hospital. The building looks brand new but has undergone an intense renovation over the past six years under the management of La Financière Vauban, whose president, Xavier Lucas, has Belgian roots. The entrance to the glass cube that houses the reception and lounge bar “L’Atrium” is equally impressive, as is our duplex suite and the 1200 m2 spa. One of the eye-catchers of this establishment is undoubtedly the swimming pool (22 x 10m). “It took a lot of effort to build it,” says Naomie Villas, Spa & Fitness Director. “First we excavated hundreds of trucks of soil, then propped up the weight of the entire building by means of a hydraulic system in order to finalize the pillars and vaults one by one.” The end result is nothing short of beautiful.
The psychological aspect
Everything on the domain of this museum hotel, including the treatments and massages, breathes history. Our tailor-made facial care is carried out with products from Mademoiselle Saint Germain, the only brand in the world that is allowed to harvest ingredients from the (vegetable) garden of the Palace of Versailles.The gentle cleansing with geranium soap and fan brushes, the peeling with the special sand of Fontainebleau, white cucumber and rhubarb and the serum based on rosemary from the garden of Versailles, which has an energizing and disinfecting effect, is just a wonderful experience!
“In function of what the customer feels, we will adapt the treatment to her/his needs and desires at the very moment,” says Naomi. That is the more psychological aspect as well as a reference to the history of this building as a hospital. “Our main beauty brand Omnisens, a brand that focuses on the senses and emotions, also fits in nicely with this,” says Naomi. “In addition, we also offer 30-minute duo treatments where mother and child (3 to 13 years old) can enjoy in utmost tranquility the wellness session using the French top range for children, “Ouate.” Thanks to our eight treatment cabins – three of which are duo – the hammam, sauna and fitness room, the whole family can get their money’s worth with us.” During the relaxing body massage we experience Maryem Dargents soothing and firm hands. She gives us one of the best massages we have experienced in the last decade.
Strolling through the majestic corridors of the building, we don’t know where to look first. From the historic chapel to the adjacent wall on the right, which shows the evocative names of people who have ever made a donation, specifying also the respective amounts. Those who have lunch or dinner in brasserie La Galeria should definitely try the Lucullus, a regional specialty based on foie gras and smoked beef tongue. Perfectly balanced in taste and not too heavy just before bedtime. “Les Hauts-de-France have also been promoted to ‘région européenne de la gastronomie in 2023’ and we will also organize all kinds of culinary activities,” says hotel director Emmanuel Béquet.
We also enjoy sleeping there. The rooms combine modern facilities and decor with the elegance of the historic building. It is very quiet in our duplex suite, something which sometimes dares to be not always the case in historic buildings.
Le Royal Hainaut Resort & Spa, 6 Place de l’Hôpital Général, 59300 Valenciennes, France, 33 (0) 3 27 35 15 15, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.royalhainaut.com