Intercontinental-Hotel Dieu is not just the most luxurious and stately five star hotel in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lyon, it’s one of the best Intercontinental properties globally.
Overall rating: 9.5/10
The monumental Intercontinental-Hotel Dieu is located right on the Rhone river in Lyon, France, and housed in one of France’s oldest hospital buildings which feels and looks more like a palace than a hospital.
For many just seeing the hotel is one of the top reasons for visiting the beautiful French city of Lyon.
Style and character: 10/10
The 42,000sqm building itself is packed with striking, historically classic architectural features. It was designed by Studio Jean-Philippe Nuel, with AIA Architectes, RL&A.
There are towering, ornate ceilings with 17th and 18th century exposed beams, courtyards, huge windows that blend seamlessly into modern-day interiors with slick furniture, flawless technology and luxe architectural features.
The facade is 280m long and was designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot (who is also credited with the striking Pantheon Building in Paris).
It was Lyon’s hospital for some 800 years, (one in 3 of Lyon’s inhabitants was born there), and almost 5 years were spent renovating it into a five star hotel of unsurpassed luxury which opened in 2019.
It was a restoration and conversion project to highlight the spectacular architecture and heritage of this site which is a historical monument that dates back to the 18th century.
The interiors designed by Jean-Philippe Nuel (a lauded Parisian interiors expert credited with designing many of Paris’s best interiors within restaurants including Hotel Beach Croisette Cannes, and Le Clef Champs Élysées Paris) are contemporary, modern and fresh, but pay homage to the history of the building every step of the way.
The lobby itself is modern and spacious yet pays homage to the building’s history with medicinal books covering the wall in reception, and towering ceilings.
Colour palette is mostly timber, black, charcoal, gold, and blue with plenty of white walls and typically French white beamed ceilings in some rooms and suites.
Food and Drink: 9.5/10
The hotel’s Epona restaurant is one of Lyon’s best with chef Mathieu Charrios producing extraordinary gastronomic modern Lyonnais cuisine. He showcases local produce and traditions throughout each dish, sometimes with a modern twist.
The food is packed with flavour, texture and colour. Easting his food is exciting, as you never quite know what will arrive after you order. Both local and international concepts and textures and presented as art.
The menu is pleasantly difficult to navigate as everything looks and sounds so good. The Lyonnais quenelles (carefully fried fish sticks) paired with a rock crayfish bisque are absolutely delicious.
The chocolate, hazelnut fondant is as stunningly presented as it is to eat. A gorgeous wine list full of surprising entries from small producers makes the whole experience exquisite and a must-do, even for guests to Lyon not staying at the hotel.
In-house guests are lucky enough to be able to indulge in breakfast daily at Epona, where light floods in from the multiple windows facing the river.
A huge selection of dishes including vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian items, eggs cooked to order, charcuterie and the most extraordinary chocolate, hazelnut breakfast cake are just the start of this gourmet extravaganza.
The bar is one of the hotels most breath-taking features and has critics writing about the jaw dropping ceiling and the stately feel of the place across the world. It has ceilings almost 32 metres high, leading to a striking coffered dome. This is quite literally one of the most exceptional places to have a drink anywhere in the world, on every level.
The bar is made of backlit alabaster, and even the heavy black marbled tables have been carefully selected to create an aura of grandeur and elegance.
Art work strategically places around the bar features gold leaf work, and fabrics of gold, and grey give a warm feel to the area. Fresh flowers are generously and strategically placed around.
Large screens have been fitted to avoid echoes and reverberation within the huge space, and they also keep it warm in winter and cool in summer.
Designing an upscale bar in a modern day monument can’t have been easy, with multiple challenges of surfaces, size and limitations like not being able to put speakers in the walls or run chords through the monument’s stately facade.
But somehow it has been done, and those limitations are nowhere to be seen. Music is piped in, the temperature is perfect and the feel is one of undeniable elegance and charm.
A central floral feature in the middle of the hotel bar is surrounded by seating angled perfectly to make looking up at the ceiling easy and accessible. (Most guests find themselves gazing upwards for long periods).
Cocktails are sensational and feature local favourites, and modern, experimental designer drinks. Regional produce is a feature throughout the food and drink menus of the hotel, and the pink praline signature cocktail in the Dome Bar features vodka, pink champagne and lemon to -recreate the delightful Lyon confectionary, the pink praline.
There is a huge choice of international spirits, from the UK, the US, Japan and even South America, and the drinks menu is regularly refreshed.
Afternoon tea at the bar is served 3 pm-6 pm daily with extraordinary pastries and sweet delights, and is fast becoming one of Lyon’s must-do experiences. (But you must book to ensure you get in).
The Intercontinental-Hotel Dieu is located about 200m away from the main shopping area, and it can be accessed through the back of the hotel, s that the hotel is integrated within the city itself.
Service & Facilities: 9.5/10
The fitness centre, Le Tigre offers yoga, boxing, a hammam and everything a health guru could want. It opens late though, from 8am, but the fitness centre/gym can be accessed earlier by guests.
There are 144 rooms and suites, with either river or courtyard views. Silk beds and cushions await guests, and beautiful bath products are provided, created by Parisian Frederic Malle.
There are spectacular two-level suites on some floors, and everything from remote-controlled curtains to fresh herbals teas has been well thought through and provided for guests.
Instagram Opps: 10/10
There are seemingly endless Instagram opportunities here from the Le Globe Bar to Epona Restaurant, the lobby, the courtyard, the main doors and so on.
Insider tip; Restaurant Epona is not to be missed. A 3 course set lunch is served at Epona Monday-Friday for just Euro 29 per person.
To book a stay click here.
Insider knowledge; The Buddha Bar is on site, and a great place fro a drink. And don’t miss the set lunch menu – a bargain with magnificent, detailed food.
Who should Stay here: Solo travellers, couples, groups of friends, business or pleasure.
Who shouldn’t Stay here: Anyone would love this stately hotel.
Location: Ie the heart of Lyon, France.
Best culinary delight: The restaurant food is absolutely exceptional.
The Highlight: The architecture and interiors are extra ordinary.
The lowlight: It can be cold in autumn/winter walking to dinner venues, and many are too close for an uber, so rug up.
Awards: Best Hotel Design, 2019 Gold Key Awards.