“Discover an unlikely hotel de charme in an untouched rural corner of Normandy, less than 2 hours from Paris”
Light, space and natural materials are the keynotes of all of the hotel's 12 rooms. Set in either the main building or the garden, each of them is immaculate and agreeably different. New oak is cleverly combined with old beams and the odd antique, and there are pleasing corners where a patch of stone or brick has been left exposed. Sandrine and Philippe were adamant that as many as possible of the furnishings should be from the Perche, so furniture, stair banisters and key-holders were all hand-crafted in local wood, and linen bedcovers and cushions were purchased from the long-established Maison Fassier in nearby Rémalard. Even the ironwork lanterns in the stairwell were made by a local craftsman. The only 'foreign' touches are the occasional item from Belgian interior design company Flamant, and a few Eastern European antiques.
Bathrooms are a delight throughout - luxurious, spacious and well-equipped, with thick towels and classy toiletries by Damana. All have bathtubs, and loos are always separate (except in Room 4 - Chambre Confort), which is a pleasing touch.
Two of the larger rooms - and our favourites - are Room 6 (Grande Chambre) and Room 7 (Chambre Familiale), both on the second floor and nestled under the vast oak roof beams. Room 6 has part of an animal manger as a bedhead, a coarse linen eiderdown from Fassier, and luxurious wool carpets and blankets. Room 7, in soothing storm-greys and whites, is a duplex, with a double bed in the main space and twin beds on a platform reached via an oak ladder. For more outdoor space opt for one of the Junior Suites au Jardin or Exception, as they all have private balconies.
Of the first-floor rooms, Room 3 (Junior Suite) has a white Flamant four-poster plus a Percheron antique wardrobe and desk. Stripes and strong colours like navy and burgundy add interest, and flooring is oak parquet or seagrass. Room 2 (Grande Chambre) has a more classic feel with its pink floral wallpaper. Rooms 1 is the only room on the ground-floor and therefore the only room suitable for those with limited mobility.
Lunch and dinner are so fresh that you can almost smell the garden it grew in, and unlike in so many French restaurants, it's deliciously light. We had a salade jardinière for starter, followed by a fishy filet de julienne aux poireaux and a choice of crispy crême brulée or juicy apple tart. Nothing too fancy, just good local food done to a T. And it's great value, especially if you book half-board. Or you can choose from the suggestions du jour, based on what's in the market that morning.
In summer, you can sit out on the enclosed terrace and watch the gentle goings-on of a rural village. In colder weather you adjourn to the dining room, whose smart oak and chocolate linen décor is every bit as fresh as the food - but be aware that in winter it's only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for lunch and dinner, and on Wednesday and Sunday for lunch only.
Breakfast is a fairly standard continental affair, including crusty local bread, croissants, fruit, cereals and yoghurt.
If you fancy going out, there's a surprisingly impressive choice of restaurants nearby, although you'll need wheels to reach them. The foodie favourite has to be Auberge des Trois J in the tiny village of Noce (closed Sunday evening, Monday and Tuesday in winter). For an Obelixian extravaganza, head for the luxurious Château de Villeray at Condeau. If you fancy a taste of old France, the Tribunal (also a hotel) in historic Mortagne is a must - try the locally-made boudin noir (black pudding).
The hotel is child-friendly but Philippe and Sandrine are keen to not have too many children on site at the same time - it can spoil the atmosphere. Under 5s stay for free.
Room 7 (Chambre Familiale) is a large duplex with a double and 2 single beds ideal for families
Babysitting is available by arrangement
Baby listening/monitors are available on request
Baby cots are available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking