Chateau La Thuiliere

near Saint-Front-de-Pradoux, Dordogne & Lot, France Book from

Reviewed by Abigail Blasi
Opulent yet cosy 19th-century mansion in the Dordogne countryside, with charming hosts, gourmet dining, and 7 elegant rooms
From the exterior, La Thuilière looks more Victorian-era country manor than château. It's a discreet, romantic hideaway in the Dordogne countryside, to the east of Bordeaux, and your first impression will be a gingerbread-looking mansion set in 7 hectares of rolling parklands. Dating back to 1889, it was originally built as a wedding present for the owner’s wife.

A stay here is rather like being invited to some supremely thoughtful friends' opulent country retreat. We particularly liked the sumptuous, cosy interior, which combines contemporary design with stately antiques. A dramatic wooden staircase sweeps up from the lobby, drawing your focus to an autumnal stained-glass window: its centrepiece is the château's original owner dressed as a medieval knight. There’s a large sitting room with an enticing honesty bar, perfect for fixing an aperitif or a digestif. The original 20-seat table runs the length of the dining room, and 19th-century wall hangings, almost as good as new, adorn all the communal rooms. Breakfast is taken in the state-of-the-art kitchen (in the basement), or on the terrace overlooking the verdant grounds, where you’ll find a pool, a winter garden, hammocks, and possibly Patch the dog.

Highs

  • Hosts Eduard and Jordi are a lovely couple - welcoming, laidback, knowledgeable and helpful - and Jordi is an extremely talented chef...
  • Outstanding 5-course dinners with charming details like handmade herbal teas and personal wine recommendations from the well-stocked cellar
  • A bucolic setting with the pretty towns of Bergerac and Périgueux nearby, artisan markets to explore and the Dordogne river for boat trips and swimming
  • Beautifully decorated rooms with great views across pea-green lawns; one has a fabulous balcony, too
  • Graceful lawns surrounding the house, with a sleek pool and mountain bikes to use (free for XL Suite guests)

Lows

  • WiFi doesn’t work in the rooms, and even in the communal areas it’s not that fast (a high for some!)
  • Not suited to families - this is more of a couples' hideaway
  • Communal dining is often the order of the day (a plus for some), but it is possible to dine à deux
  • The hotel requires a substantial initial deposit

Best time to go

The region is at its loveliest in spring and autumn, when it’s less busy but the weather is mild and warm.

Our top tips

Bring some nice clothes so you can dress up for dinner - food this good deserves a little effort. If you’re planning to buy wine, ensure you’ll be able to carry it home (if you’re flying with only hand luggage, you’ll be stuck).

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • Not recommended for under 12s
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Pool Table
  • Snooker Table
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Suite XL

Rooms

The 7 rooms are spread over the first and second floors, which are architecturally quite different, but every room is beautifully designed. Expect Mies van de Rohe Barcelona chairs, sleek beds and gilt antique mirrors, plus homely touches like fresh flowers, free bottled water and Miller Harris bath products. Book into an M or XL Suite and you'll also get an iPod dock, Nespresso coffee machine, TV and DVD player.

The first-floor rooms have more of a château feel, with high ceilings, proud fireplaces and polished wooden floorboards. We stayed in one of the 2 XL Suites on this floor (Suite 1): a welcoming yet stately room with 2 tall windows framing beautiful park views. The spacious Japanese-style bathroom has twin basins and a shower. XL Suite 3, on the other hand, is the only room with a balcony, making it a standout choice for honeymooners. The M Suites are also on this floor, with ensuite shower rooms and lovely park or forest views.

Up on the second floor, the ceilings are lower, but the views are far-reaching and there’s plenty of charm. Here you'll find S Suite, the smallest, which has no TV and is a great budget option. There are 2 more XL Suites on this floor, too: both are huge with park views, but Suite 9 is the largest - sleeping 2-4, with a contemporary open-plan loft layout and a walk-in shower.

All rooms have kingsize beds (which can be made up as twins) and little indulgences like fluffy robes and slippers, but don't expect technology heaven - the WiFi doesn't extend to the bedrooms.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Iron
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is a fine spread of pastries, yoghurt, bread, ham and cheese, served in the state-of-the-art kitchen or out on the garden terrace in summer. Although it's not included in the room rate, it's a lovely way to start the day. Eggs are collected from the resident chickens daily and can be cooked in various ways on request (extra charge).

During the day there’s the Bistro24 brasserie-style menu. You can order dishes like homemade quiche with salad - very tasty, if a little keenly priced - to eat in the sitting room, on the terrace or in your room. In the evening, a 5-course dinner is served at the long table in the traditional dining room, or outside in good weather. Every day sees a different menu, on a 7-day cycle, featuring sophisticated marriages of flavour, all stylishly presented. Courses may include scallops in carrot velouté or calamari on rocket pesto with black salt. Each meal ends with a selection of wonderful local cheeses, their provenance explained by affable host-with-the-most Jordi. The wine list is also extremely inviting, with a marvellous array of Bordeaux and Bergerac wines, and lots of discreet, helpful recommendations from your hosts.

If you decide to dine out, there are plenty of restaurants to tempt, ranging from traditional French cuisine and gastro-dining to Michelin-starred show-stoppers - Eduard and Jordi are happy to advise.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee maker
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Périgueux

Activities

  • Visit the local town of Bergerac, with its many monuments to famous fictional son Cyrano, lovely medieval buildings, small museums and markets
  • Explore the town of Périgueux, stopping by the domed cathedral, Château de Hautefort, and the mazes at the wonderful Château de Bourdeilles
  • Take a walk to the local 9th-century church and visit nearby food markets to sample truffles and cheeses
  • Hop on one of the boat trips along the Dordogne, which set off from Bergerac, or go wild-swimming from its various river beaches
  • Eduard and Jordi can arrange canoeing, wine-tasting in the surrounding vineyards, and cookery courses (from a few hours to 5 days) which include visits to a local market (in Spanish/English)
  • Back at the château, swim in the sleek pool or lounge beside it, book an in-room Ayurvedic massage, or mountain bike in the grounds and surrounding area

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Pool table
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

Although the château can accommodate all ages, Jordi and Eduard don't recommend it for children under 12 - it's really more of a couples' place. The atmosphere is best suited to adults, and the property is not adapted to the needs of families.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

That said, XL Suite 9 can sleep up to 4 in 1 double bed and 2 singles.

Families Should Know:

Children must be watched: the property has lots of stairs, the park is not closed, and the swimming pool is neither fenced nor supervised.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Chateau La Thuiliere