Stay the night: Hotel Crillon le Brave, France
A chic country hotel in Provence has been given the Hotel du Vin makeover
Sunday 04 October 2009
How to build the ideal hotel. Find yourself a hamlet made from golden stone on a hilltop in Provence. Buy a house, then a few more – taking care not to make yourself too unpopular with the locals. Build a terrace and a pool at the heart of the huddle so that guests can enjoy the views of the vine-covered valley below. Chuck a mountain into the mix, if you can.
Peter Chittick and Craig Miller created just such an idyll in 1989 when they opened an 11-room hotel in Crillon le Brave in the shadow of Mont Ventoux. Twenty years on, the property has spread out across several more houses, linked by courtyards and cobbled alleys, to offer 23 rooms, seven suites and a two-bedroom house.
Four years ago, the team was joined by Hotel du Vin founder Robin Hutson and his long-time business associate Patrick Gaillard, who now leads the on-site staff. A makeover followed that will be familiar to fans of the Hotel du Vin brand, with slick interiors and good food and wine. But the real selling point is those mesmeric views.
In 2006, the team refurbished the tired interiors with a touch of rustic elegance. Carpets were replaced with earthy stone tiles, luxurious bathrooms were added, and some spaces were remodelled. A more recent refresh has calmed the floral flourishes with subtle tones and patterns. The experience in all 32 rooms is pared-back luxury. Antique-style furniture – a welcome relief from the over-familiar juxtaposition of ancient building and 21st-century styling – is complemented by high-spec extras such as Vi-Spring beds, Bose Wave systems with iPod connectors, free WiFi, Frette robes and generous quantities of L'Occitane toiletries. This place ticks all the right boxes for discerning boutique hotel fans.
The food and drink
The beautiful setting of the terrace and the intimate surroundings of the hotel's restaurant promise much. As does the unfussy, bistro-style menu. Yet, while lunch delivers just the light flavoursome touch that guests will be craving, dinner goes a little awry during the main course. The fresh, local ingredients used aren't given the wow factor their depth of flavour deserves and can fall victim to poor timing. The game needs to be raised for the kind of foodie-centric guests this hotel attracts. As you'd expect from the original Hotel du Vin crew, wine is central to what's on offer, with a list that celebrates the spicy reds, fruity whites and delicate rosés of the Ventoux region.
Resident sybarites are invited to keep fit by playing boules or perhaps doing a few laps in the heated outdoor pool. There's also tennis or you can take a ride on one of the hotel's bikes – steel yourself though, you'll need to get back up that long road from the valley floor. Massages and beauty treatments are available in the one-room Cowshed Spa – it's a shame they continue to import a British brand when Provence is famed for its high-quality fragrant soaps, creams and oils. Check out special packages for the vendange, truffle hunting and cooking classes.
Children and pets welcome. The multi-level nature of the hotel makes it unsuitable for wheelchair users.
A double room starts from £220 per night. British Airways (0844 493 0758; ba.com) offers a four-night fly-drive to Marseilles from £156 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick and car rental. Kate Simon was also hosted by Sofitel London Gatwick (01293 567 070; sofitel.com), which offers rooms from £116 B&B.
Hotel Crillon le Brave, Place de l'Eglise, 84410 Crillon le Brave, France (00 33 490 65 61 61; crillonlebrave.com).
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
The 50 Best spas
Map identifies the best and worst places for emergency healthcare in the world
The Atlas of Beauty: Photographer travels around the world to capture cultural diversity through stunning portraits of women
Friends 20th anniversary: Where to visit as a superfan in New York
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
£12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...
£23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...
£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...
£18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...