villa maia lyon

Roaring Lyon the Revitalized City Gets a Savvy New Design Hotel

Each fall, Lyon—once overlooked by travelers speeding through from Paris en route to the south—hosts a biennale that toggles between world-class art one year and modern dance the next.

La Confluence, a former industrial neighborhood, is now a starchitect’s playground with a massive Jean Nouvel project joining other mixed-use spaces, and young chefs are energizing the restaurant scene with lighter cooking that honors and advances the city’s gastronomic traditions.

Now, with the opening of Villa Maia, there’s a hotel that feels right in a reinvigorated Lyon.

The designers—a French dream team that included architect Jean- Michel Wilmotte (who updated the Louvre), interior designer Jacques Grange (he did Karl Lagerfeld’s home), and garden guru Louis Benech (he redesigned the Tuileries)—have created a sophisticated space that soothes rather than wows with hackneyed design trends.


The only pops of color in the Jacques Grange–designed rooms come in the form of a few accessories

The minimalist spa with an arched arcade is modeled after ancient Roman baths.

Its 37 guest rooms (which lookout on meditation gardens or over the red-roofed city) have neutral textured walls, wood trim, and sliding panel doors leading to bathrooms done in Carrara marble and heavy nickel, creating a sort of ryokan-meets-Art Moderne feel.

Design aside, the real key to understanding Villa Maia maybe, well, the room key.

It’s an actual key attached to a heavy leather fob.

It doesn’t demagnetize or remind you of a credit card.

You leave it at the front desk when you head out and retrieve it when you return.

It’s a welcome moment of hospitality in an increasingly automated world.

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