Hotel Artemisia

Bastelica, Corsica, France Book from Eur96

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Small, quirky mountain hotel with cool design and fantastic views
OK, so you’re more likely to stick to the coast and roast away on those magical beaches, but if you take a moment to look behind you, you’ll always find a mountain or two looming in the distance. The truth is, Corsica is an island of mountains, and while most tourists spurn them for the coastal plains, this is where to come if you want to discover the Corsican soul. It goes without saying they are utterly magnificent: switchback roads, wind-sculpted peaks, ancient villages teetering on the side of steep hills, shepherds herding 200 sheep down a mountain pass. As for the light, it plays in the valleys with infinite wonder: the beauty here is divine.

This cool little hotel in the village of Bastelica gives you the chance to explore in comfort. Newly built in 2010, it mixes hip design with old-fashioned mountain simplicity. Downstairs, walls of glass ensure you never lose the view; upstairs, beds are slotted into bay windows that frame the mighty mountains. The ground floor is open-plan: reception gives way to a small library/sitting room, which, in turn, gives way to a splendid restaurant serving locally produced, fresh and flavoursome food. Doors open onto a lovely garden - tiny lawn, stone terrace, even a plunge pool, and 10-mile views. Scale a peak, spot the sea below, then drop down to Ajaccio (40 minutes by car) for a swim. There are ski slopes up the road, too.

Highs

  • Lying in bed and watching the sun come up over the mountains - just magnificent
  • The winding roads, the chestnut forests, the fabulous hiking, the tiny villages. And Le Lac de Tolla 2km away, where you can swim, kayak or hire a pedalo
  • The small garden with its huge views - a lovely spot for breakfast in summer
  • Prices are excellent by comparison to other hotels on the island
  • Ajaccio - only 40 minutes by car - for the airport, beaches, shops and Napoleon’s house

Lows

  • You'll need a car to get here
  • None of the 10 bedrooms are big, and there are no twin rooms
  • No lunches served and the restaurant's dinner menu is set, but staff will discuss dietary options with you in advance, and the food is delicious and fresh. Note that dinner is not served on Mondays, September-June
  • The baths/showers, thinly disguised by a half-wall but basically in your bedroom - not to everyone’s taste
  • In some bedrooms the mountain view is obscured by garden trees

Best time to go

The hotel is closed for a month in late November/early December, but apart from this stays open all year. There’s snow in winter and you can ski a little further up the valley. Spring is gorgeous, as is autumn when the leaves turn. And as you’re up in the mountains, it’s cooler than the coast in summer.

Our top tips

Don’t expect to get anywhere quickly on Corsica’s mountain roads. If you drive as fast as safely possible, expect to hit the giddy heights of roughly 40km/hour. There are 2 reasons for this. First, the winding roads and hairpin bends are not made for speed. Secondly, you will be stopping regularly to take in yet another ridiculously beautiful view. If it’s any consolation, no road on Corsica is particularly fast. This is the land of slow travel!

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Restaurant (open daily for breakfast + dinner)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

It’s not so much what you find in your room, but what you find outside it. The main design feature is a big square window, through which the mountains loom majestically. Your bed is positioned directly in front of it, thus affording rather good views. You get white walls to soak up the light, smart ceramic tiles underfoot, then a shower/bath behind a half-wall in each room; you can gaze out on the mountains while having a soak.

Other than that simplicity rules. You get a private loo, a small desk, storage space and built-in wardrobes. You’ll find a flat-screen TV, too, but you really don’t need it - the pictures in your window are much more entertaining with the light in the valley changing constantly. You also get WiFi, but if you're likely to use it, ask for a room above the router!

Of the 10 rooms upstairs, the 8 Standard rooms are quite small. Two rooms are bigger - those at each end, the Deluxes - but they’re not that much bigger and if you’re only here for a couple of nights, there’s no great need to chase the extra space. Having said that, they do have room for 2 small armchairs, and double-aspect windows bring in more light.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfast (extra cost) is served in the restaurant or out on the terrace in good weather. You get croissants and rolls, homemade jams, fromage blanc and village apples. There’s orange juice and strong coffee, too. This is the perfect way to start a day.

At dinner you eat from a daily set menu. While the choice may be limited, it’s carefully crafted by the chef to make the most of the products on offer each season, giving you a taste of authentic Corsican food; specific diets can also be catered for if discussed in advance. We had a very tasty meal: chard cooked in filo pastry served hot with a spicy sauce; beef entrecôte with a gratin of vegetables; then an excellent tarte aux pommes with vanilla ice cream. The food is not only local, it’s frequently organic - much of what you eat comes from the hills around you, and if you potter about the village you can’t miss the apple trees sagging under the weight of their fruit.

Tasting platters (Corsican charcuterie, cheeses, local vegetables) are available on days when the hotel's restaurant is closed, and there are a few eateries in the village - staff can make recommendations and bookings. You’re also not far from Ajaccio, so drop down one night and discover its excellent restaurants. Try A Nepita (great Corsican food cooked by an English chef); Altru Versu (the freshest seafood) or Le Temps des Oliviers (delicious pizzas). Finally, Le Grand Café Napoleon is worth a visit for its period interiors and old-school food.

For other restaurant recommendations in Corsica, see our Destination Guide.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The mountains are yours to roam. Hike through chestnut forests, bump into free-range goats, climb a peak for fabulous views

  • If hiking sounds a tad too energetic, then saddle up - there’s a stable in the village. You can ride in the mountains in the morning, then drop down to Ajaccio and ride on the beach in the afternoon

  • Head downhill a couple of kilometres to the village of Tolla and its enormous mountain lake. You can kayak, swim, even set sail on a pedalo. There are a couple of cafés and a pizza restaurant, too

  • Spend a day driving through the mountains. You’ll have the road to yourself, the scenery is majestic, and you’ll spot the odd hunter up in the hills or chance upon locals selling irresistible mountain food: fantastic cheeses, freshly buzzed honey, Corsica’s legendary charcuterie. There’ll be brief encounters with cows on the road and tiny villages for a rustic lunch. A fantastic day awaits

  • Potter down the mountain and see lovely Ajaccio, the capital of the island. There’s loads to do: glitzy shops, good beaches, café terraces. You can visit the house and birthplace of Corsica’s most famous son, none other than Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Finally, there are ski slopes 15km above the village that open in winter

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Shopping / markets
  • Skiing
  • Swimming

Kids

Children are welcome and stay for free in baby cots and for a small charge in extra beds in Deluxe rooms only. Some rooms are small.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The 2 Deluxe Rooms can each fit a rollaway bed for a child; all rooms can fit a baby cot.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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