Chateau Capitoul

Narbonne, Languedoc-Roussillon, France Book from Book from £105 per night

A historic wine estate offering watery views, cosseting elegance in rooms and villas, buzzing bar and restaurants, and wine-tasting

Perched on a breezy hillock, Chateau Capitoul is all wow-factor. Its sunset-facing terrace overlooks pure Languedoc pastoral, with pinstriped vines sloping down to the flamingo-dotted Bages Lagoon. Only a 15-minute bucolic waterside cycle from the small town of Guissan and the coast, and 7 miles from the historic city of Narbonne, the original chateau has eight rooms. Nearby, 44 new self-catering villas, perfect for families with older children, are discreetly set into the hillside. These echo traditional local style; chateau and villas all have big views. Behind the chateau rises the escarpment of the Massif de la Clape. The Languedoc has long been thought of as the less chic cousin of the Cote d’Azur, but a hotel like this looks to change that, with rooms that purr with dove-grey elegance, fluffy-cloud towels, a snazzy infinity pool, and restored vintage chandeliers.

Chateau Capitoul is a collaboration between Irish hoteliers Karl and Anita O'Hanlon, of Domaine Demeure, and the Vignoble Bonfils family. Wine has been made here since the 12th century, with the Bonfils running the 62-hectare estate since 2011. The chateau gardens are likewise an eco-feat: hardy, locally grown florals that require no irrigation were planted by designer James Basson, four times Gold winner at the Chelsea Flower Show. Add a brace of gastronomic restaurants, a Cinq Mondes Spa, and the large sheltered terrace with long views, and you've hit the sweet spot.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • A choice of gastronomic Michelin-level dining or a less-formal bar-restaurant. As befits the wine estate setting there are wine-related activities year round too
  • Beautifully decorated rooms with beautiful blue-marbleized bathrooms (in the chateau)
  • Great spa and indoor and outdoor heated pools
  • Biking and walking routes from the chateau into the surrounding countryside and lots of places to visit
  • We loved the extraordinary ecologically friendly gardens in the villas and the main estate

Lows

  • It’s usually breezy here, but if in warm weather there’s a spell of rain and the air is still, there will likely be mosquitos
  • It seems churlish to mention, but if you’re staying in the chateau, it’s a short walk across the courtyard and terrace to the main pool
  • Not as toddler-friendly as sister properties Chateau Les Carrasses and Villas St Pierre de Serjac due to the sloping hillsides

Best time to go

Open year round. Spring and Autumn are lovely times to be here. July and August are the busiest times of year. Come in late August/September and you'll see the region's wine harvest.

Our top tips

The Narbo Via, designed by Sir Norman Foster in 2021, showcases Narbonne's astounding collection of Roman artefacts, including the monumental 760-block lapidary wall that continually alternates the blocks displayed and explains them to the public.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Romantic
Spa
  • Boutique Chateau
  • 44 villas
  • Restaurant and bar open daily
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
  • Electric car charging points in the main car park and near the villas
Room:

Rooms

You've a choice of rooms and suites in the main chateau, or newer two- to four-bedroom self-catered villas nearby.

With greys and soft throws, gleaming white linen, and restored vintage chandeliers, the eight chateau rooms combine contemporary luxe with classic French and Art Deco accents. There are gilt-framed antique book pages on the walls and polished wood underfoot. Bathrooms are lined with blue-seamed marble: a Portuguese ceramic that mimics high-polished stone. Towels are cloud-soft, from a small French company, and available on Domaine Demeure's homewares website – they're so good I checked them out. The best rooms in the chateau are the large luxury suites, with windows on two sides, or the rooms with views over the countryside as far as Narbonne cathedral.

The look in the 44 villas is similar, sharing the muted-hued aesthetic, with the signature vintage chandeliers and prints. If there's a tub it's freestanding, either ceramic or polished pewter, and positioned to be be a bath-with-a-view. Villas range from two to four bedrooms, sleeping 4-10, for maximum flexibility. All come with enclosed Mediterranean dry gardens, terraces and views, washing machines and full kitchens, and some have wood-burning stoves. 25 of them have private pools (heated from the end of May until the end of September, you can ask to heat them at other times for a supplement). They're all lovely, but the biggest are most spectacular, including 4-bedroom Les Chais d'Elevage and 3-bedroom Les Pierres Seches.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • DVD player
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast, a buffet of freshly baked pastries, cakes, bread, granola, fruit salad and yoghurt, and hot dishes cooked to order, is served in Asado restaurant, or baskets can be delivered to the villas. Asado is constructed in the former wine cellar and offers dining on the terrace with views, or in the large Art Deco interior that has a French-meets-New York brasserie atmosphere. There are 2 and 3-course set menus, or go a la carte with small plates such as oysters, ceviche, watermelon and feta salad for starters. The mains are all cooked on the long grill, with dishes such as lamb with thyme and pink garlic from Lautrec or octopus marinated in the Domaine's red wine. On Friday nights there's tapas, plus a lounge-style DJ and freestyling saxophonist.

The huge terrace has a bamboo-shaded bar, and its tiki styling gives the place a holiday vibe. Cocktails are imaginative, scented with local lavender or preserved orange, and the bar attracts the locals from surrounding towns and villages as well as hosting hotel and villa guests. The estate's wine, produced within the AOC La Clape appellation, is a draw too (there's a shop next to reception for purchases). The pool also has a pool bar; from summer 2022 salads and other light snacks will be available here throughout the day.

Over at the chateau is the intimate fine-dining Mediteranneo, which promises to be a contender for a Michelin star, with a tasting menu of delicate dishes, such as delectable grilled red snapper, based on local produce. You can spy the lagoon through the trees from its big bay windows.

For a change of dining scene, five minutes by car will bring you to Gruissan, or travel eight minutes in the other direction to Narbonne – both have many eateries to choose from.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Swimming, yoga and free bikes for activities in the hotel grounds; for walkers there are several trails around the vineyards and beyond
  • There's also the estate winery, where you can sample the local Bonfils wines. In summer join a weekly guided ride through the estate's vineyards to the nearby fishing town of Gruissan. A wine tasting is provided at the end of the tour
  • Check out the excellent massages and facials from French spa brand Cinq Mondes in the Spa, which has rooms with views, a steam room, sauna and hot tub, as well as an indoor pool with arched floor-to-ceiling windows framing countryside views
  • There are local watersport providers, for windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing and other watery pursuits
  • The best beach nearby, Plage des Chalets, is only a 5-minute drive
  • E-bikes and e-scooters are a great way to explore the surrounding countryside, and can be arranged by the concierge
  • There are markets in Gruissan and a lovely indoor food market in Narbonne
  • Narbonne's archeological museum, new in 2021, showcases the wealth of Roman artefacts found in the area

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Kitesurfing
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

The self-catering villas will suit small or large families with school-age children, and there's a concierge service for family activities. There's an activity-based summer camp for school holidays, and babysitting is available. There's also a huge communal heated pool, free bikes, countryside to roam, you're close to the beach.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

There are 44 self-catering villas, 25 of which have private pools. They range from two to five bedrooms, from 80 sq m to 200 sq m with infinity pool.

Creche/Kid's Club:

Summer camp with local activities including electric scootering, tennis, e-bikes, sailing, windsurfing

Children's meals:

Kids menu at Asado restaurant including burgers, grilled chicken, fish of the day, chips, ice cream

Kids Activities on site:

  • Large swimming pool
  • Bikes to borrow

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beach at Gruissan Plage 5 mins by car or 30 mins by bike)
  • Watersports including SUP
  • Cycling

Families Should Know:

Not recommended for families with small children and pushchairs due to the sloping nature of the site and some large drop offs between gardens (there are walls and railings in place). The main pool is fenced. The villa private pools have aluminium retractable covers to retain heat, keep clean and for the safety of children.

Distances:

  • Airport: 35-40 minutes
  • Hospital: 10 minutes (Narbonne)
  • Shops: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Location
Château Capitoul is just five/25 minutes by car/bike from the picturesque town of Gruissan and its long sandy, windy beach. The same distance in the other direction is Narbonne, a small historic city. Close to the hotel is the Massif de la Clape, a 37,000-acre conservation area, crisscrossed with walking and biking trails.

By Air
Béziers airport is 35 minutes' drive, Perpignan/Carcassone are 45 minutes, Montpellier airport is 60 minutes, Nimes/Toulouse/Girona are 90/100/110 minutes away.

By Train:
Barcelona/Paris are two/4.5 hours by TGV. From Narbonne station, take a cab to the hotel (5 mins).

By Car:
If you want to explore the region's historic towns, lagoons, fishing villages, sandy beaches, and rolling vineyards you'll need a car. See our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Béziers Cap d'Agde Airport 49.0 km BZR

Other:

  • Beach 7.0 km
  • Shops 5.7 km
  • Restaurant 5.7 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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