By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer
Top Destinations in Champagne #1: Chateau Les Crayeres
For more than a decade, I have been helping K&L's Champagne loving customers visit the region of Champagne with advice on restaurants, hotels and producers to visit. One place that I always recommend is Chateau Les Crayeres in Reims- it is the pinnacle of luxury in the region. The property consists of the Relais and Chateau hotel, “Le Parc” which is the high end restaurant, and “Le Jardin” which is the brasserie. Les Crayeres is an immediate neighbor of Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, Demoissele and Ruinart and sits on top of a network of underground galleries which contain all of those houses stocks- millions and millions of bottles of Champagne!
I have been lucky enough to visit this property many times and each experience has been unforgettable. The first time was on business with Trey Beffa, the night before we left Champagne and headed to Bordeaux. It was Sunday, and we had a four hour lunch with the Aristons before checking in, so we ran around Reims until my foot bled trying to make room for our dinner at Le Parc. It worked, and we had a great meal and a very memorable bottle of 1993 Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay that evening. My best experiences have been staying there with Cinnamon, drinking Laurent-Perrier "Grand Siècle" Champagne in the room and old Rene Collard and Chateau Phélan-Ségur, St-Estèphe in the dining room. The service and the food are top notch, the Champagne list is perhaps the best in the world and the hotel has been called by many the best in the whole world.
My favorite bite that I have eaten at any restaurant in France I ate here, it was a deep fried foie gras ball that you had to take down in one mouthful. The pairing with 1990 Rene Collard was simply off of the charts. Great pate and foie gras in particular are fantastic partners with old vintage Meunier. If you can’t find any (it is not easy to come by outside of Le Parc) you can settle for old Krug! The cheese cart is like no other, and while it is very difficult to save room, you won’t want to miss the excellent selections which are all ripened to perfection. They are even open minded enough to offer some English Stilton, and if it is there it will blow your mind. I thought it was even better than the piece that I bought from Neal's Yard Dairy under London Bridge!
As wonderful as Le Parc is, the brasserie Le Jardin is not to be missed, and if you had time for only one meal, I would recommend going here. It is the hottest table in Reims, and always filled with producers. The ballotine of foie gras is fantastic as is the rest of the menu. The casual atmosphere is great after a day of appointments. Cinnamon and I had a wonderful time with the Aristons here the last time she came to Champagne with me.
As for the hotel, you have to see it to believe it. While it is expensive, it is no more so than a very good hotel in San Francisco and a lot less than a nice hotel in Paris or New York. The rooms are decorated in classic French style. The place was entirely redesigned by interior architect Pierre-Yves Rochon and has every comfort you could imagine.
You can check out more about Les Crayeres here: http://www.lescrayeres.com/#/index/
If you ever plan to visit the region, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a list of other recommendations in the region.
A toast to you!