24-Hour Room Service: Château de Bagnols, Rhône-Alpes, France

Château de Bagnols is, to me, one of the most beautiful places on earth. It's a 13th-century chateau on an enormous scale and as such should be stiff, imposing and a little bit too grown-up. It's got a dry moat, an impressive drawbridge and the stone is a deep honey colour and about 12 metres thick. The gardens are made up of stark lines of cherry trees and there's a vast formal fountain in the middle of them. The place has such a film-like quality that it takes a couple of hours just to believe it's all real.

Men and women dressed in the most perfect white-and-pink candy-stripe uniforms sweep through the central courtyard holding towering plates of fresh eggs and small bunches of just-picked honeysuckle on their way to the bustling kitchen, or to one of the 21 bedrooms.

All this should make you feel like you're too poor, too young, too stupid and too ridiculous to be here, but instead the chateau is welcoming, warm and extremely relaxed. Even though occasionally there might be a small woman from Paris in head-to-toe Chanel cradling a small puppy called Fifi in the corner, the rest of the guests wander around in jeans and read books under the extraordinary interlinking tree canopy that hangs over one side of the castle, next to the perfect circular pool.

The restaurant is spectacular – one entire wall is a 15th-century fireplace – but the chef has suddenly got a little bit serious. The food has always been magnificent, but it's also been reasonably rustic; the kitchen staff pride themselves on using delicious local ingredients (roast chicken or steak and little boiled potatoes followed by tarte tatin). Now suddenly the mood has changed. Amuse-bouches (beetroot mousse – I am being perfectly serious, please make it stop) are now brought out and the dishes are more complicated. Curls of marinated cucumber are strewn everywhere, and although the food tasted good, it also looked liked it might have been prodded for a month. All I can say is there was a lot of foam.



LOCATION

Château de Bagnols, Bagnols, Rhône-Alpes, France (00 33 4 74 71 40 00; www.bagnols. com) is in the heart of Beaujolais country, which means that the hillsides are crammed with vines as far as the eye can see and it's a gastronomic paradise. If you like truly delicious food – whether it's a fancy Michelin-starred place or just a brilliant café that serves Toulouse sausages and mash – then you can find it, and all very near by.

Time from international airport/mainline rail station: It's a 45-minute drive from Lyon's airport. The hotel will send Eddie to pick you up – he's got a swish car and likes Barry Manilow and will charge you €150 (£125) each way. Or you can get a taxi from the airport for slightly less at €110 (£92).



COMFORTABLE?

In 1987, Lady Hamlyn happened upon the chateau, which was in total disrepair, and restored it, revealing walls and ceilings from the 15th and 16th centuries. So imagine sleeping in the best room of the Uffizi, then make-believe the bed is a canary-yellow, 18th-century four-poster. The beds are all high and stiff and draped in the finest and softest linen. And now imagine a bath that's so deep, a family of five could swim in it. Then add a couple of goblets of wine (complimentary decanters of wine are put in the room every day) and overflowing silver bowls of cherries, littered about the place. And then you can imagine what it's like staying there. It doesn't matter if it's raining or snowing or grey outside, because the bedrooms and communal areas are so breathtaking. The bedrooms have extraordinarily comfy sofas and real fires, and the walls are covered in beautiful trompe l'oeils so it feels like a privilege to sleep here.

Freebies: Decanters of wine, fresh fruit – and a massive bottle of velvety lavender bath foam with a solid silver cup for pouring, which sits next to the tub (as does shampoo and body lotion, all made from lavender and mint).

Keeping in touch: There is broadband internet connections in the bedrooms, flat-screen televisions and direct-dial phones.



THE BOTTOM LINE

Just as the chateau is special, the prices are special. The "traditional rooms" are €495 (£413) a night and one extraordinary suite costs €915 (£763), though you can get good deals and better prices mid-week. The Michelin-starred salon has a three-course €45 (£38) lunch.

I'm not paying that: The Hostellerie Sarrasine (00 33 3 85 31 02 41; www.chateauxhotels.com) near Mâcon – around 80km from Lyon – offers antique-filled doubles from €99 (£83), room only.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Nadine Gordimer died peacefully at home yesterday
people
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor