B&B and Beyond: Château Le Thil, France

One of the region’s grape-growing families has given new life to an 18th-century manor house

When even the airport has its own vineyard, you know you’re in wine country. And for a truly fertile visit to the Bordeaux region, you can’t do much better than Château Le Thil, an 18th-century manor-cum-haute B&B that’s a 20-minute drive from the city and the latest addition to an impressive, grape-centric family operation. Run by Alice and Jérôme Tourbier, it’s a mile down the road from Château Smith Haut Lafitte, the renowned grand cru estate owned by Alice’s parents Daniel and Florence Cathiard. There, Alice and Jérôme run the luxury hotel and spa Les Sources de Caudalie. But the much smaller Le Thil, which they snapped up last year, offers a more intimate, retreat-style guest experience among the vines.

The bed

Alice has described her style as “buco-chic” – or, to translate, “bucolic chic” – which nicely sums up the rustic refinement of Le Thil’s interior. It has the high ceilings and stately dimensions you’d expect from a château, but also benefits from an eclectic decor which makes it feel entirely homely. The bedrooms are notable for fine wooden antiques and gorgeous patterned feature wallpapers. Meanwhile, the well-appointed en suite bathrooms have free-standing claw-foot baths, his and hers sinks, rain showers and a selection of products from her sister Mathilde’s renowned Caudalie beauty line. With eight standard rooms and one suite to choose from, however, each has its own quirky details.

Whichever you get, the views are spectacular: situated at the front of the house, each room looks onto the château’s rolling lawns, lake and woodland. If there’s a criticism, it’s that the king-size beds are, in fact, two twin beds shoved together, meaning you may want to be careful to avoid sleeping near the middle.

The breakfast

You can sit at separate tables in the wood-panelled ground-floor dining room and serve yourself from an extensive buffet spread, including granola and yoghurt, croissants and pains au chocolat, tomatoes, cheese and charcuterie. The star performers, though, is undoubtedly the tray of cannelés de Bordeaux: miniature, crème-brûlée cakes with a custardy interior and a caramelised exterior, they’re alarmingly moreish.

The hosts

After Alice’s parents bought Château Le Thil last summer, the Tourbiers did a complete refit of the house within just nine months. That speaks volumes of their expertise as hoteliers. As well as running Le Thil and Les Sources De Caudalie, they also have another boutique hotel/spa complex just outside Paris, Les Etangs de Corot. They are, says Alice, currently looking at a further site in Alsace.

The weekend

You can get to the neighbouring Smith Haut Lafitte estate easily by foot, via the oak-lined Allée Royale. There you can borrow a bicycle and explore the vineyards and surrounding countryside, then take a tasting tour of the winery (00 33 5 57 83 11 22; smith-haut-lafitte.com; €9.50). Rising up the ranks for both its whites and reds, it is a fascinating mixture of the hi-tech (a Bond lair-ish secret underground cellar with an automated trapdoor) and the traditional (its own cooperage or barrel workshop).

For a different kind of wine experience, there is the Vinotherapie spa (00 33 5 57 83 83 83; sources-caudalie.com) at Les Sources De Caudalie – one of eight around the world set up by Alice’s sister Mathilde. She has pioneered development of skincare products utilising antioxidant-rich grape extracts; a crushed cabernet body scrub costs €85 (£72).

Finally, it is certainly worth making time to explore Bordeaux’s historic centre. Since former prime minister Alain Juppé first became mayor in the mid-Nineties, he has restored the once run-down city to its former glory.

The stunning gothic cathedral (00 33 5 56 52 68 10; cathedrale-bordeaux.fr) and the cavernous Museum of Contemporary Art (00 33 5 56 00 81 50; capc-bordeaux.fr) are highlights.

The pit stop

You really should go to – and stumble back from – Les Sources De Caudalie’s Michelin-starred restaurant, La Grand Vigne. With starters and main courses around the €40 (£34) mark, and desserts at €16 (£13), it’s certainly not cheap, but chef Nicolas Masse’s intricate, delicate cooking is impressive. For a more casual meal, the hotel’s bistro-style restaurant, La Table Du Lavoir, is situated in a beautiful conservatory space. Three courses cost €38 (£32).

The essentials

Château Le Thil at Les Sources De Caudalie, 35B Chemin le Thil, Léognan, Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France (sources-caudalie.com). B&B doubles start at €240 (£203).

I travelled with easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyjet.com), which flies from Gatwick from £36.99 one way.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
Latest stories from i100
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

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral