Modern Luxury in the Vineyards of France By Lindsey Tramuta
New York Times
Nov. 3, 2018
25bis by Leclerc Briant
A guesthouse that marries contemporary Scandinavian design with antiqued French furnishings
Epernay is lined with the headquarters and visiting centers of the world’s most renowned Champagne houses like Moët et Chandon and Perrier-Jouët, making it one of the region’s most popular spots to visit. But the small town has long lacked enough hotel options to accommodate demand, leading most visitors to stay in nearby Reims. Le 25bis, from the biodynamic champagne house Leclerc Briant, fills the gap with a guest- house that marries contemporary Scandinavian design with antiqued French furnishings.
Occupying a private residence from the 18th century, the five-room property was designed by UK-based firm Ramsey Krause to be a homey extension of the winery’s adjacent tasting room. Whether in the ground floor sitting roomor in individual bedrooms, the designers preserved as many period elements as possible, like the original pine floors and the Empire style plasterwork. Two leafy terraces make for peaceful areas to have breakfast in the morning and champagne tastings in the afternoon.
At 10 minutes by foot from the Epernay train station, 25bis sits at the very heart of the Avenue de Champagne, a grand thoroughfare lined with Champagne houses that earned Unesco World Heritage status in 2015.
Each room is done up with different color schemes and decorative features. I stayed in Room 3, which overlooked the property’s rear garden. It blended 19th century French antiques with clean, beautiful lines, like the hulking armoire near the bed and wooden desk facing the window, with contemporary pieces from brands like Knoll, Carl Hansen & Søn and Ercol. The striking yellow Louis XIV bergère armchairs were redesigned by RamseyKrause with a new velvet. But the big draw for me were the bookcases filled to the brim with the Blanche collection of literary classics published by Gallimard.
The mostly-marble bathroom was spacious, brightly lit and featured both a claw-foot bathtub and one of the largest showers I’ve ever seen in a boutique property. The shower’s stainless-steel rimmed glass enclosure prevented any water from spilling over onto the floor. Inside, there was a marble ledge with enough space to place both my own products and the Hermès ‘Un Jardin sur le Nil’ bath and body products provided by the hotel.
Designed by UK-based firm Ramsey Krause to be a homey extension of the winery’s adjacent tasting room
A half-bottle of Leclerc Briant is offered as a welcome gift to guests in room minibars. Small, complimentary tastings are offered daily in the tasting room. Visits to the Leclerc Briant cellars and production facilities are available by appointment only (free of charge). Full tastings there run between 20-40 euros, depending on the cuvées selected. Of course, the guesthouse manager will also reserve visits and tastings at other Champagne houses upon request.
There is no on-site restaurant for guests, but breakfast is included in the room rate and can be taken in the exquisite dining hall, lined with hand painted Zuber wallpaper, on the terrace or in your room. A list of recommended restaurants nearby and in Reims is provided in each room.
The Bottom Line
Le 25bis is an exquisitely designed, upmarket home-away-from-home for autonomous travelers who don’t need 24/7 service, conveniently located to the region’s most famous Champagne houses.