History has unfolded for centuries in the regional capital of Lyon—between the Rhône and Saône Rivers—but high on the peak of Fourvière is a marvelous, ultramodern place. A glance at Villa Maïa captures attention from the get-go. Its series of cubes with bronze-tinted cut-out windows create a visual double take; the ever-evolving reflections of the sun shimmer off the façade’s glass panels.
Inside the hotel, the spaces adopt a distinctly contemporary take. The Library, with dark-green and chartreuse fauteuils and bulls-eye canvases, provides a brightly-hued backdrop for guests to enjoy almond-infused cocktails. Upstairs, the 37 rooms (seven of them suites) offer hints of Art Deco and Japanese influences, with upholstered headboards and straw mats. The circular photos by Charles Maze (part-dream, part-hallucination) and Merino wool throws brighten up the otherwise neutral- toned spaces. All of the rooms are equipped with Carrara-marble bathrooms, house-brand amenities scented with a custom-blended fragrance (carnations, bitter almond, anise and irises) and metal-framed terraces with wide-spanning views.
The details of the spa hark back to the age of antiquity when Lyon was part of the Roman Empire. In fact, ruins were unearthed on the hill of Fourvière.
Villa Maïa was a collaboration between a trio of design powerhouses. Collectively these boldface names lend the property cachet: architect extraordinaire Jean-Michel Wilmotte provided a sharp, angled aesthetic to the exteriors; landscape designer Louis Benech envisioned a contemplative garden flourishing with greenery; interior decorator Jacques Grange created areas that are at once sober and sophisticated.
The Paul Bocuse-trained Christian Têtedoie also adds heft to the property: his on-site Michelin-starred haute-gastronomy restaurant features the chef’s signature dishes, tasting menus, and an exquisite spin on regional cuisine which could include dishes such as roast pork loin with a whiskey emulsion and a hazelnut soufflé with clementine marmalade. Despite a design-forward take, the property pays homage to its heritage. The details of the spa hark back to the age of antiquity when Lyon was part of the Roman Empire (in fact, ruins were unearthed on the hill of Fourvière.) The fluted columns, an arcade fashioned out of limestone, and the pool’s black- and white- mosaics have echoes of the region’s ancient thermal baths. The building’s façade even incorporates bas-reliefs with rinceaux motifs.
All throughout the grounds, there’s a serene sense of sanctity about Villa Maia. Its elevated location on the “hill that prays” looms at a watchful distance from the urban bustle. Benech modeled the garden after a cloister, where guests can meditate over unkempt patches of holly, yews, and magnolias. Meanwhile, Grange envisioned the lobby to have the same soaring effect as a cathedral; the natural light flooding into the glass-enclosed space creates a luminous and ethereal aura. Regards are gently but instinctively guided upwards towards the ceiling, where a gold leaf- and aluminum- spiral pendant lamp swirls–seemingly weightlessly– above the geometric patterned floor—a welcome sign, a graceful symbol indicating the start of a sumptuous stay.