Lalique is an iconic brand, internationally recognized for its exquisite hand-blown crystal creations. Founded by the visionary René Jules Lalique in 1888, they are particularly well known for their Art Nouveau and Art Deco designs. René Lalique started out by making jewellery before branching out to glassware and crystal. Nowadays, they also have a lovely collection of fragrances, including Illusion Captive, a gorgeous scent in a handmade crystal bottle inspired by dragonfly wings. Not many people know that they also own two fabulous hotels, Chateau Hochberg and Villa René Lalique. Let’s take a tour!
In 1921, the new Lalique production facility opened in the scenic region of Alsace, France. There were already many skilled glass blowers in the area and it was also centrally located for delivery worldwide. All the Lalique products are still crafted in this same factory and we were privileged to have a VIP tour. It’s not normally open to the public, however the Lalique museum nearby gives a fantastic overview of the brand. We had flown into Basel airport the night before, which is a pleasant 2 hour drive away. After sightseeing and lunch in Strasbourg, we soon arrived in the charming village of Wingen-sur-Moder. Our home for the night was the magnificent chateau owned by Lalique, now a stylish 4 star hotel.
There’s an immediate wow factor as you spot Château Hochberg through its wrought-iron gates. This elegant manor house was originally known as Chateau Teutsch and built on the former Hochberg glass works site.
These days, the 15 chic rooms and suites welcome guests to the area in style. We parked in the spacious car park and headed up the drive to see what treasures lay inside. The interior is decorated with many Lalique artworks, from the contemporary chandelier over the bar to the Art Deco inspired vases. After a speedy check-in by the charming staff we were shown to our room. From the spacious bedroom with a magnificent view over the trees, to the marble bathroom, it was a delight. We particularly liked the contemporary style and apple green accents as well as the luxurious Lalique toiletries. The bathroom washbasin had crystal taps as well as the Lalique emblem engraved in the mirror.
Returning downstairs to the lobby, we admired the bar sculpted from a single block of white quartz. Chateau Hochberg has a lobby bar decorated with a glass panel featuring dahlias, which often appeared in the work of René Lalique. We were also impressed with the Eternal Cristal panels, a collaboration between Damien Hirst and Lalique, as we sipped a glass of local sparkling rosé wine – one of over 80 different bottles from the menu. Lalique certainly know their wine and that’s partly because the Chairman and CEO, Silvio Denz, also owns a vineyard. Château Cap de Faugères produces fine Bordeaux wine that have been praised by Robert Parker, the renowned wine authority.
Dinner at the château is an elegant affair, served in one of their 3 adjacent dining rooms. Each course of our meal prepared by Executive Chef Arnaud Barberis and his team was beautifully presented. We particularly liked the veal with wild mushrooms.
The next day we enjoyed lunch on the terrace of Chateau Hochberg, including this spectacular fruit pavlova.
The next day we visited Musée Lalique, situated directly opposite Chateau Hochberg. Designed by Wilmotte & Associés who worked on the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, it’s run by the Alsace region.
Before our tour, we had lunch on the terrace of the museum cafe, which serves up simple yet very tasty local specialties and salads – this quince tart was a highlight.
We really weren’t expecting the weather to be so warm at the end of September, but we certainly made the most of it. Inside the museum, you can’t help but be impressed by the stunning designs on display such as this Lalique perfume bottle. Lalique was inspired by the 3 Fs – flora, fauna and the female form and there are some superb examples here.
This vintage Lalique bracelet also caught my eye but there are lots of beautiful items on display. I was interested to learn that Rene Lalique’s daughter Suzanne and son Marc created many pieces and shaped the future of Lalique. Marc took the realms of Lalique upon the death of his father and was responsible for the switch from glass to crystal. There was also an interesting temporary exhibition, “Back to the Sources – The World That Inspired Lalique”, focusing on the influence of Japanese, Greek and Egyptian art on René Lalique’s work. The museum is open from 10 am to 6 pm, on Tuesdays to Sundays during the Winter months and every day from 10 am to 7 pm from 1 April to 30 September.
Lalique reissues some of its most iconic designs, such as Mouettes or Seagulls, a striking tableware collection.
Lalique Factory Tour
Afterwards, we headed to the Lalique Factory for our tour. After equipping ourselves with protective goggles, we set off on what was to be a highly instructive visit. We were taken through all the stages of creation, from design to creation of the moulds, to glass-blowing and finishing by hand. The whole process is highly skilled and the designs are fragile. Lalique only sell flawless finished designs, so if an item is damaged during production then it will never be sold. It was fascinating to see the glass-blowing ovens being made. It takes several months for one to fully dry so new ovens are continually being made.
We also loved seeing the glass-blowers at work. It was reassuring to see many young production workers as the skills are being passed on to the next generation.
Each Lalique glassware piece is carefully examined and finished by hand. Some of the designs feature hand-painted decoration, another delicate task requiring intense concentration. We learned a lot during our visit and I’m in awe of the level of craftsmanship involved.
Villa Rene Lalique
As if the museum and factory tours weren’t enough, there was one final treat in store…for the jewel in Lalique’s crown is Villa René Lalique, the former home of René Lalique. This beautiful property dates from 1920 and is now a five star boutique hotel and 2 Michelin star restaurant. The dining room was designed by Mario Botta, the famous Swiss architect and is light and airy. With just 6 suites, it’s an intimate and luxurious retreat. In the lobby there’s a superb Lalique vase and table, with many other artworks dotted around like this Spirit of the Wind crystal chair ornament.
The wine cellar is quite exceptional too and would make a great setting for a private dinner. The day before, we’d tried out the villa’s e-bikes which are available for guests to use. We’d never tried them before but they were easy to get the hang of. Soon we were riding up the hill past the local church with no effort required!
Executive Chef Jean-George Klein has had a unique career path – he began as a waiter at the family-owned restaurant and only became a chef at 40 years old when his mother retired. He won the second Michelin star for the family restaurant and then a third one, before leaving to join Villa René Lalique which scooped 2 Michelin stars only a few months after opening. He has a unique way of presenting his dishes, like this pretty as a picture beef fillet with pea purée.
The Villa’s sommelier, Romain Iltis was awarded the prestigious accolade of Meilleur Ouvrier de France en Sommellerie in 2015. He’s therefore one of the top wine experts in France and his passion really shines through. However he doesn’t impose his knowledge on you and has a charming and unassuming manner that belies his talent. Under his guidance we tried some superb wines which accompanied our dishes perfectly. One of these was an organic Riesling from Jean-Baptiste Adam, whilst a Pinot Gris Kirchberg de Ribeauville, Alsace Grand Cru from Henry Fuchs was another highlight. You don’t need to be staying at the Villa to dine here but it’s advisable to book well in advance. A pate in the form of a butterfly was a clever take on the Damien Hirst connection and it tasted as good as it looked.
Dessert was equally impressive and the perfect end to a fantastic weekend in Alsace.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of Chateau Hochberg, Musee Lalique, the factory and Villa Rene Lalique.
Have you ever been to Alsace?