“An eco-friendly spa hotel set in wild meadows, with superb organic food, tempting treatments and sweeping views”
The 29 minimalist rooms, all with private terraces, are housed in long, low wings which spill down the hillside; there’s also a stilted cabin in the woods, where you can sleep in romantic seclusion or, in summer, enjoy massages among the treetops. The roll-call of environmental technology - solar panels, heat pumps, natural water filtration - means the hotel's carbon footprint is almost zero, and it sits in a 25-acre reserve that provides protected habitat for birds, butterflies and rare red squirrels. If you're looking for guilt-free pampering in a tranquil setting, it's hard to beat.
- Wallowing in the relaxation pool, with its underwater lighting that changes colour every few seconds, and gazing out over the reserve
- Super-fresh, seasonal food, most of it grown in the on-site kitchen garden, reared on local farms or caught sustainably on the Breton coast
- Cocktails in the candlelit lounge bar, which has a fireplace for cosy winter drinks and a deck for summer stargazing
- Cool, calming décor, peppered with quirky features such as a collection of vintage cameras, indoor gardens and madcap modern sculptures
- La Gacilly, famed for its artisan studios, annual photography festival and riverside setting; it's less than an hour from Rennes airport, but it feels wonderfully rural
- None of the rooms are particularly large, and the pared-down style is a little spartan
- Rates don’t include breakfast, though you can book half-board packages if you’re staying for 2 nights or more
- Not ideal for families with noisy youngsters, though there are interconnecting rooms and a suite with a sofabed if you want to bring 1 or 2 well-behaved children
- No WiFi (though every room has a fixed-line internet connection)
- Towels in the bathrooms are rather small, though there are robes to snuggle up in
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Indoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
The impressive eco credentials extend to the rooms, which are set in tiers built into the hillside for natural heating and cooling. All have floor-to-ceiling glass walls opening onto private terraces overlooking the reserve, with specially designed awnings which deflect the sun’s rays in summer and channel them inside in winter.
Inside, the design is minimalist and pared-down, with a pale wooden desk and bedhead, a linen-covered armchair, and walls painted in muted colours (perhaps ochre, russet or lavender) that reflect the landscape outside. We slept well on the comfortable bed (with an organic mattress and duvet, of course) and woke to a beautiful morning mist hovering silently over the meadows, with the ghostly outline of pine trees silhouetted in the distance.
Bathrooms are clad in sleek black tiles, with walk-in rain showers (no tubs), bathrobes and, as you’d expect, big refillable bottles of Yves Rocher toiletries (i-escape guests get a selection to take home, too). Ours had a hatch to the bedroom, which we could slide open to see the fields from the shower.
If you want a bit more space then opt for the suite, which has a separate sitting area with a double sofabed. There’s also a pair of interconnecting rooms (1 double and 1 twin), plus a stilted wooden cabin perched among branches a short walk from the main building. The latter is perfect for romantics in search of privacy, with a rustic bedroom, a couple of armchairs, a fully equipped ensuite and a veranda looking out over the treetops; note it's only available from October to May, as it’s used for spa treatments during the summer months.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- Internet access
- Safe box
The restaurant, Les Jardins Sauvages, is a member of the Slow Food Movement, and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s an understated, lofty space, lit by lanterns at night, with sliding walls of glass leading to a table-filled terrace. Like everything else at the hotel, the food is almost entirely organic, with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients - many of them grown on site in the kitchen garden. It’s also delicious - some of the best we tried on our trip around northern France.
There’s a range of tasting menus, plus a daily changing à la carte selection with plenty of meat, fish and vegetarian choices. We opted for a tasty mushroom fricassee and salmon carpaccio with a citrus-infused salad, followed by tender lamb shoulder and just-caught Lotte fish with a creamy Saint Jacques sauce. Next came an assortment of local cheeses, and a mouth-watering cheesecake made with gwel (fermented milk from Brittany's miniature Pie Noir cows). We rounded things off in the lounge bar, where we lingered around the fire and sampled a few concoctions from the cocktail list (the signature ‘Grée des Landes’, made with bubbly and a hint of tangerine, is highly recommended).
Breakfast the next morning (not included in rates unless you book a half-board package) was less inventive but just as tasty, with all the usual buffet fare - fruit, yoghurts, cereal, bread, pastries, cold cuts, cheese, lots of fresh juice and coffee - plus the added treat of freshly baked Breton flan.
For meals out, follow the path that winds down through the woods to the village (take a taxi after dark if you don’t want to get lost). There, you’ll find a clutch of informal eateries, including a pizzeria. From June to September, you can also eat at Yves Rocher’s café-bar, Le Végétarium, which has a riverside terrace and a menu of salads, soups and cakes; it’s open daily for lunch, and on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner.
- Organic produce
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Soothe mind and muscles in the spa. Float around the relaxation pool, soak away toxins in the hammam, enjoy a massage or facial, and sprawl out on a lounger on the deck outside
- Wander down the hill to La Gacilly, which is perched on a weir lined with weeping willows. It’s famous for its many artisan studios and its annual 'People and Nature' Photography Festival (June-September), when the cobbled streets are transformed into outdoor galleries
- Hop in the car and head off to view the mysterious menhirs at St-Just (10km away). No-one really knows why Neolithic tribes built so many of these standing stones across Brittany, but they make an impressive sight
- Head to half-timbered Rochefort-en-Terre (20 minutes’ drive), which is officially ranked as one of the prettiest villages in France. It's crammed with antique shops, bars and cafés
- Also 20 minutes away is Redon, a delightful town where 2 rivers and the Nantes-Brest canal converge in a tangle of locks, bridges and quays. Amble along the towpaths, admire the flower-fringed balconies (Redon regularly wins prizes for its floral decoration) and visit the pretty cloisters of St-Sauveur, a place of pilgrimage until the 17th century
- Marvel at the fairy-tale turrets of the Château de Rohan, which towers above the canal at Josselin (40 minutes away)
- Or take a day trip to Vannes, which stands at the head of the beautiful Golfe du Morbihan. Stroll around the town’s ancient ramparts and park, then take a boat trip out to some of the unspoilt islands dotted around the gulf
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
La Grée des Landes has a calm atmosphere that’s better suited to couples than families, and you'd feel self-conscious staying here with rowdy littl'uns. That said, there's a pair of interconnecting rooms (1 double and 1 twin) which would suit a small family, as well as a suite with a double sofabed. Baby cots can be added to all rooms on request, and breakfast is free for children under the age of 10.
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Family Rooms