Driving up the winding driveway that approaches Château La Thuilière is like arriving on the opening scene of a French period drama. Sitting atop a sprawling lawn and simple but neatly-maintained grounds, the charming château is truly rooted in romance. It was built in around 1889 by a prosperous businessman for his fiancée, with the idea that she might while away her summers there. The guy sure had an eye for a romantic retreat.
We were welcomed warmly into the castle two of its three proprietors – the owner and his co-host, Patch the spaniel. After being taken through the basics, we were shown to our room. The owners have done a fantastic job with the interior design of the castle, balancing its period charm perfectly with stylish, Scandinavian design. The result is a hotel that’s luxurious without being stiff or uptight. Details such as fluffy, top-quality towels (who isn’t a sucker for the feel of egyptian cotton?) add finesse, while the hotel’s ‘honesty bar’ policy makes you feel at-ease and at home.
The best thing about Château La Thuilière is that there is nothing to do there other than switch off and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Take a dip in their stylish salt-water pool, occasionally catching a whiff of the nearby lavender. Take a stroll around the grounds. Flip through a design magazine while you sip a gin and tonic in the plush drawing room. Lounge the day away…until, before you know it, it’s time for dinner.
Like so many French hotels, Château La Thuilière prides itself on its cuisine. We arrived downstairs at 8pm for dinner on the lawn, and were shown to a table overlooking the grounds. In traditional French table d’hôte style, we were talked through the courses for the evening and offered wine.
Dinner kicked off with a delicately arranged and refreshingly fragrant strawberry gazpacho, followed by crayfish ravioli in a silky-smooth sauce, a fillet of perfectly-cooked fish dressed in a mediterranean-style tomato and caper sauce, and finally a satisfyingly grown-up bitter chocolate mousse with a sweet crumb and tangy sorbet. We couldn’t resist ordering the cheeseboard, which was served (unusually for the French) after dessert, allowing you to graze while enjoying the sunset. Before long, Patch came trotting around to check up on each table and offer coffees (or maybe he was asking for scraps, we can’t be sure), and we took our cue to head up to bed.
A night’s stay at Château La Thuilière is nothing short of leisurely – it really couldn’t feel further away from London’s constant rush. We stayed there as part of a road trip, but would return to it as a destination in its own right. We meandered back down that driveway feeling refreshed, well-fed and more than just a little bit romanced.
We the Food Snobs x