Hotel Dieu de Lyon, a hospital in the Presqu'ile quarter of Lyon, France, had been in business since the 12th century. Among many modifications to the Rhone River-facing facility, the original medieval buildings were built over in the 18th century with what exists today: lavish neoclassic splendour designed by Soufflot, of Paris Pantheon fame. Whatever the architectural style, though, continually, across most of its 800-year history, it was one of the most important hospitals in Europe. Members of royalty were treated there and medical advances, such as early medical use of x-rays, were performed within its walls.
Dilapidation led to its closure in 2010 but, with its highly visible 375-metre, riverside facade, it remained an emblematic site in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city.
Now, after a four-year renovation, the biggest of its kind in French history, you can stay here without needing admission. It has reopened as a mixed use complex that's home to InterContinental Lyon – Hotel Dieu.
Luxury hotel specialist, the French designer Jean-Philippe Nuel, set out to bring together the disparate elements of the site's history – its monastic founders and latter-day Louis-inspired rebuilding, while creating something very contemporary and luxurious. Also acknowledged in design: Lyon's history as the capital of European silk, through a key motif of custom silk prints on panels, cushions and furnishings from Verel de Belval, a subsidiary of the Hermes group.
The hotel encompasses a prized feature in the now-named Soufflot Dome, which once protected to a chapel, soaring 75 metres outside and providing a cavernous 32 metre-ceiling above Le Dome Bar.
There are 144 rooms with 34 suites, 28 of which are duplex, and feature huge vertical windows with views of the Rhone.