Grand Hotel des Bains

Locquirec, Brittany, France Book from

A sumptuous spa hotel on Brittany’s craggy Finistere coast that combines New England designer style with utter relaxation
Some hotels have location, some have style, this has both in bucketfuls. Its position overlooking the turquoise Baie de Locquirec, in Brittany’s westerly province of Finistere, is breathtaking, and either side of the rocky point you have no fewer than 9 sandy beaches to choose from. French film-buffs might recognise the large, turn-of-last-century hotel: it was the setting for a 1970's Carry On-style film, before becoming a rather crusty spa resort.

Fifteen years ago it was taken over by the dynamic Dominique van Lier, editor of Belgian interiors magazine Eventail, who stamped the place with his impeccable New England-meets-Swedish-Gustavian style. Bedroom walls were panelled and painted in soothing moss and fern greens, floral fabrics were replaced with stylish checks, and the austere refectory transformed into an oasis of apricot and white. The atmosphere is peaceful and relaxed, both inside the hotel and its marine spa, and in its seafront gardens, which include an exquisite lime-tree alley. A great place to recharge the batteries for families and couples alike.

Highs

  • The effervescent English manager Emily, Van Lier’s daughter-in-law, and her helpful husband Harold, who inject a youthful vibe
  • The 18-metre indoor swimming pool offers stunning sea views
  • Great massages, hydrotherapy and beauty treatments in the marine spa, plus a sauna and a hammam
  • There’s no road between the hotel and the sea, ensuring total tranquillity
  • The luminosity of the light, especially outside summer, draws artists and writers (ask about their creative courses)

Lows

  • Despite Dominique’s artistic touch, the corridors still feel a bit institutional
  • Some of the bedrooms are a bit on the small side and lack sea views (and are thus cheaper)
  • Younger, more dynamic types should note the emphasis is on peace, and the clientele can be older
  • Light sleepers should avoid the church-facing rooms because of the bells
  • It's a little pricey; you're paying for the hotel's heritage and the peaceful location

Best time to go

Any time of year, depending just how quiet you want it and what you want to do. Obviously it gets busier in the peak months of July and August, but it’s never noisy. For spa treatments, blustery coastal walks and total silence, winter is perfect. Swimming and watersports are generally possible from mid June to mid September.

Our top tips

If ancient churches are your thing, besides Locquirec’s own Eglise de St Jacques, there's the magnificent cathedral of Treguier (1 hour away), with its soaring steeple and tomb of St. Yves, the patron saint of lawyers, who flock here in May to attend the annual Pardon (pilgrimmage). Closer to home is the church of Saint-Jean-du-Doigt, which owes its name and fame to the finger of St John the Baptist, housed here since the 15th century and still a magnet for pilgrims during its June Pardon.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 36
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 9 Jan 2017 - 29 Jan 2017...
  • Indoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Of the 36 rooms, 27 have sea views and the remaining 9 have views over the village church. Van Lier’s genius has been to provide a sensation of space, both inside and out. "The key," he says, "is to provide lots of place perdue (unused space). This is what gives a house charm." If you’re after outdoor space, opt for a Sea View Room some have huge terraces, while others have balconies; the trade-off is the view: the higher you go, the better the view. Our favourite rooms were the corner ones, which have views of both to the sea and the garden, and a luxurious feeling of space. Rooms to avoid are Church View #112, 212 and 312 which are smaller (about 20 sq.m. excluding bathroom).

Décor throughout is simple but stylish, with a successful combination of crisp linen pillows and sheets, check bedcovers and cushions, and matching walls and sofas. Colour-wise, soothing moss greens dominate, but some rooms are decorated in gentle blues, greys or reds. Bathrooms are unpretentiously simple (you go to the spa if you want pampering), but indulged with gorgeous products.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Phone
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The hotel’s buffet breakfast is a highlight, and was the best we tasted in northern France. Beautifully presented, it had everything imaginable, from pastries made by the hotel’s patissier to freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh fruit salad, stewed prunes, cheeses and hams.

Dinners, too, are delicate and delicious; there’s even a 'Menu Minceur' if you want to avoid putting on extra pounds. Cooking is strictly French, with an emphasis on locally caught fish and seafood including lobster, scallops and sea bass; heavy cream sauces are avoided in favour of delicately steamed vegetables. Smoked salmon and foie gras are specialities, and both are made on the premises.

If you fancy a break from the hotel but don’t want to get in the car, the co-owned Brasserie de la Plage is 2 minutes’ walk into the village, and gets rave reviews. The décor makes ample use of beautiful wood flooring and those familiar muted green colours. Food is fresh, again with an emphasis on local seafood, and you can book your table at hotel reception.

If you want high gastronomy and Michelin stardom, head to Chez Jeffroy at the Hotel de Carantec in the eponymously named town; or to the Manoir de Lan Kerellec at Trebeurden.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Locquirec is a hiker's paradise: you can walk around the point in 15 minutes, passing a series of tiny coves, and on along the well-marked 'Sentier des Douaniers' fringing Brittany’s dramatic coastline; or branch inland if you want a change
  • Watersports, including swimming, diving and kite-surfing, are all available in the village between June and September, and sailing all year round (the Ecole de Voile Francaise is right opposite the hotel). There are diving schools at Carantec and Plougasnou, and the Baie de Locquirec has decent surfing on an exposed beach break, though summer tends to be flat
  • Festivals and markets are an important feature of Breton life. A small market is held in Locquirec on Wednesdays, there’s a market in Morlaix on Saturdays and a larger one in Lannion on Thursdays. Virtually every village holds its own Fest Noz (an evening festival that usually involves music and booze) or Pardon (religious local pilgrimage) in the summer. In October an organ festival of baroque music is held at Lanvellec
  • You won’t find much wine in Brittany (although the hotel has a good wine list), but its cider is remarkably good. If you want to see how it’s made and indulge in a bit of a dégustation, there are cidreries in the villages of Plouegat-Guerrand and Guimaec (ask hotel staff for directions)
  • Brittany offers an incredible array of things to see and do. For a more comprehensive list, see our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Kitesurfing
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Families are welcome and will appreciate the indoor heated pool and the nearby beaches and rock pools, sailing and windsurfing. Bear in mind that there are no particular children's facilities at the hotel, and that families are encouraged to maintain a peaceful ambiance.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can fit an extra bed for a child and a baby cot. For families with two children a few rooms can be closed off with a connecting door to create a suite of rooms (sea view and church view combinations include 109 & 110, 209 & 210, 309 & 310, while 101 & 102, 201 & 202, 301 & 302 are sea view combinations so a bit more expensive).

Babysitting:

Local babysitters available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Baby monitors
  • Dressing gowns

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Separate dining room annexe for families in the hotel, dishes can be adapted and simple pasta meals can be cooked to order. There are children's menus at the Brasserie de la Plage, which is 2 minutes away in the village

Kids Activities on site:

  • Indoor heated pool - kids hours are 1200-1600, and children must be accompanied
  • Buckets and spades, fishing nets

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches
  • Sailing school in Locquirec (and kids club here too in August)
  • Surf and paddleboard school in the village
  • Windsurfing and kitesurfing locally
  • Fishing
  • Riding schools nearby
  • Boat trips
  • Aquarium in Brest (45 minutes away)
  • Golf courses

Families Should Know:

The beach is at the end of the garden but there's a fence and gate which prevents small ones escaping without supervision; the property is gated

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes (Brest)
  • Hospital: 20 minutes
  • Shop: 5 minutes walk
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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