October 11 2013
Over the Garonne
From Bordeaux to Saint-Emilion, on the right bank, and Pessac-Léognan, on the left bank, charming accommodations abound.
Design hotels, furnished wine barrels and wineries welcome guests into their world.
Seemingly just another hotel nestled in the vineyards of Pessac-Léognan, but Les Sources de Caudalie is not just any old venue because it is here that “vinothérapie” was invented, a range of treatments based on the benefits of the polyphenols found in grape seeds. Nestled amongst lush greenery and vineyards – the hotel is in the Smith Haut-Lafitte area, the Grand Cru of Graves – a few minutes from the center of Bordeaux. Les Sources de Caudalie forms a real village, designed by architect Yves Collet. Alice Tourbier-Cathiards – daughter of the owners of Smith Haut-Lafitte – and her husband, Jérôme Tourbier have designed their hotel around the concept of stationary travel, an escape close to home. The 40 rooms and 9 suites are decorated to take guests on a trip to the heart of the region. Everything here evokes Aquitaine, between the ocean and basin, land and country. The five houses are presented as variations on regional themes. Paintings, antiques, and warm fabrics create veritable tableaus in the rooms, just like so many small histories that have shaped the grand. But it is the Île aux Oiseaux that is at the heart of the hotel. An exact replica of a hut on stilts in the Arcachon basin (the region is famous for it’s huts on stilts), the suite was decorated by Maxime Simoëns. Its décor includes all codes of a decorator: white and black, of course, the contrast of matt and gloss and the creation of prints within its own structured universe, and always, his trademark watermark – the bar code, as a symbol of our time. This is a place that combines luxury with comfort, high quality care and gourmet dining. In the kitchen, chef Nicolas Masse offers a cuisine made with local produce, that he magnifies at the mercy of arrivals and seasons. His balanced and healthful cooking serves to further the benefits of the sumptuous Caudalie spa. www.sources-caudalie.com
The location of Pessac-Léognan has a peculiarity: its vineyards are embedded in urban areas, in a suburb of Bordeaux. Yet it is here that one of the finest and most charming accommodations in the region is nestled: the Château Pape Clément. Ranked the best vineyard of the area, the property belongs to Bernard Magrez, a magnate who collects prestigious châteaux around the world, contemporary art presented in the Labottière hotel in the heart of Bordeaux, and ancient olive trees. This house, whose history dates back to the thirteenth century, now offers a very nineteenth century charm. Nestled amid 32 acres of vineyards, neighboring this madness of neo-gothic architecture is a glass-roofed annex by Gustav Eiffel, the architect of the Eiffel Tower. After being greeted by a gloriously British butler, guests can discover waxed woodworks, a portrait gallery and private collections that decorate the walls of the elegantly understated reception rooms. Upstairs, the poetically named rooms recall a style of travel that is perhaps a little outdated but nonetheless utterly charming. No design gimmicks to be found here. Everything is of old-world elegance, aromas of wax polish, deep leather armchairs…The perfect place to suspend time and play the lord whilst enjoying a few house wines, Château Pape Clément is of another time.
In the historic center of Bordeaux, this hotel occupies an eighteenth century building. Stonewalls and gorgeous floors highlight the charm of the intimate luxury property. The décor, antique furniture and design objects add extra soul. Most of the twelve rooms – each named after a famous château in the region – are equipped with Jacuzzi or whirlpool tubs, and for total relaxation, you can even call upon a specialist practice to indulge you in massages and treatments. It then only remains to settle at the Wine Bar to enjoy the indoor garden and a great selection of wines by the glass.
The Garonne stretches lazily at the feet of Bouliac, a small village of the left bank and home to The Saint-James. Rooms and suites designed by Jean Nouvel, and gourmet cuisine orchestrated by chef Nicolas Magie, define this architectural folly. Granted the address is not new, but magic continues to occur here. Created from the inspiration of Chef Jean-Marie Amat – who is now installed on the other side of the Garonne in Lormon – the establishment has lost none of its magic. To transform this old tavern, Jean Nouvel designed four pavilions, inspired by old tobacco barns (a characteristic of the area), and covered them with a rusty mesh wire which surprises whilst still integrating perfectly with the landscape. Connected by a gallery which hosts art exhibitions throughout the year, these pavilions recreate the topography of a village, built around the restaurant at the center. The light-filled rooms and suites offer panoramic views of Bordeaux and the Garonne, with the vineyard in the foreground. Clean lines and raw materials dominate here for an overall comforting design.
In the renovated neighborhood of Chartrons, Bordeaux, a building of immaculate whiteness stands in stark contrast with the surrounding buildings in gilded Gironde stone. The facade of Seeko’o plays beautifully with light and shadow, transforming the building into a sculptural iceberg. With its 45 fun and creative lofts, the hotel is an unusual and ultra design structure in an area steeped in history, also classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Open spaces, elegant and contemporary furnishings, innovative bathrooms, the guestrooms in Seeko’o are similar to those of a house so that guests may live at their own relaxing pace, close to the city center.