Lyon HotelFrance’s culinary capital now sits firmly on the Antipodean traveller’s agenda thanks to the launch of Emirates-Qantas five-weekly services, and complementing the new air services is the re-opening of one of the city’s grandest and most historic hotels, the Hotel Carlton Lyon – now part of Accor’s distinctive MGallery Collection.

Lyon is a historical and architectural landmark city, just over two hours by TGV south west of Paris. For centuries the city proudly carried the reputation as the gastronomic capital of France, due partly to the presence of many of France’s finest chefs – such as Paul Bocuse – as well as the city’s close proximity to two of France’s best known wine growing regions: Beaujolais to the North and Côtes du Rhône to the South.

The Carlton is just a 5-minute walk from the Bellecour metro stop and is the ideal base for exploring Lyon, with its opera house, museums, the St. Jean Cathedral and the Musée des Beaux Arts.

The hotel has grown into a legend. Built in 1894, the majestic stone façade is quintessentially Haussmann and bears witness to this building’s rich history.

Internally, the majestic staircase envelops the mythical 1930 Roux-Combaluzier elevator, which is made entirely of wood and wrought iron. The retro décor in the lobby, bar, corridors and rooms intertwines distinctly classical atmospheres and an up-to-the minute feel. The most coveted of the 80 rooms are the 4 Rotonde junior suites, featuring round sitting rooms and splendid views over the well-known Place de la République.

The rooms have been renamed to pay tribute to the celebrities who have stayed there – and still stay there. Actor Patrick Chesnais, it is said, enjoys rehearsing his lines in room 322, which is now named after him. Suite 103 was actor Laurent Terzieff’s room for many years and his autobiography “Seul avec tous” is now placed on the side table in the room.

Art is everywhere in this MGallery Collection hotel, which also features period stained-glass windows, blue marble and wallpaper created especially to capture the 1920 period spirit. The interior design is distinctly reminiscent of a theatre, and the ubiquitous red is even offered as part of the bar menu – a Carlton Red cocktail – and as a Carlton Red nail polish in the spa, a product created in partnership with beauty product brand, Kure Bazaar.

The jazz playing in the champagne bar in the evening, the furniture radiating 1920s charm and the Art Deco moldings put this hotel in a league of its own.

To make guests feel like stars pampered from head to toe, the Spa Cinq Mondes offers massages as well as the opportunity to unwind completely in the Turkish bath, massage parlor or relaxation room. The nail salon, a special feature for women, also provides hand and nail treatments.

For tourists who want to capture the feel of the city at its finest should plan to visit the city in December for its famous light festival Fête des Lumières which occurs every 8 December and lasts for four days, earning Lyon the title of Capital of Lights. The Festival originated to express gratitude towards Mary, Mother of Jesus, with every house expected to place candles along the outsides of all the windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets. The Festival has expanded to include professional light shows over the four day period, with the two main focal points of activity being the Basilica of Fourviere and the Place des Terreaux.

Hotel Carlton rates start from Euro160 per night.

www.mgallery.com