“An eco-friendly spa hotel set in wild meadows, with superb organic food, tempting treatments and sweeping views”
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.
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.
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.
Cots Available, Family Rooms