We were wobbly with pleasure after 48 hours at Château La Thuilière. Slack-jawed and wobbly. Little tears, little soft tears of joy leaked out, as curly-mopped Patch the spaniel emerged onto the landing to bid us farewell in his own regal, poochy manner. Beautiful Eduard placed our receipt in a discreetly branded envelope of impeccable paper stock, along with two exquisite buttons of semi-sweet chocolate. Warm, kind Eduard. Jordi, he informed us, passed on his best wishes, but had gone to the market in Mussidan to pick up the ingredients of that evening’s five courser. Of course Jordi had. Lovely, twinkly Jordi, whose garden pea cappuccino with goats’ cheese foam had induced uncontrollable, goofy sighs of delight. It’s fair to say we were a little emotional as we left. No, not that kind of ‘emotional’ – not that. Although our honesty bar bill revealed that we had indeed been very, very honest over the course of our stay. No, it wasn’t that. We were just extremely relaxed. And now perhaps a little distraught. Now in the car, holding hands in silence, each of us staring ahead, slowly sucking our complimentary chocolates in silent, mournful dissolve.
‘You are two people? You have little luggage? You would like a... fun car?’ said the hire clerk at the airport, with a little wink and an arch of the eyebrow. Filthy. Course we did. As we fun-carred through the gates in our convertible, the sight of Château La Thuilière brought us to a halt. A long, white gravel driveway snaked under huge pines, past a sunken swimming pool and an ancient glasshouse full of tomato plants. At the summit of the gently sloping parkland approach stood the Château itself, a grand 19th-century objet d’amour over four stories, built as a wedding gift by a local marquis for his beloved. In the cool, dark wood-panelled reception hall, Jordi, Eduard and Patch greeted us from behind a beautiful old antique bureau. Patch and Eduard gave us a tour of the ground floor: the elegant billiard room; the tapis-walled dining room with its magnificent, long communal dining table; the lounge and music room, piled high with books on design, art and our hosts’ homeland of Catalonia. The local legend of Saint Front – a daring apostle who, legend has it, killed the pesky village dragon – had certainly inspired the marquis. Eduard pointed out dragons carved into various panels and on the ends of the bannister. The old boy had also commissioned a suitably fabulous stained-glass portrait of himself back in the day, done up in full knight’s armour, the cheeky devil.
With the shutters and windows open in our large, airy suite, voices drifted up from the balcony below – guests returned from the pool, freshening up for dinner. Another two guests had plonked themselves in hammocks, highballs poking out above the canvas. Strutting out from beneath them came Frank, a gallus, flamboyantly trousered cockerel, performing his daily pre-prandial inspection. Eduard came over to smile at us (and possibly just at life itself), before softly reading that evening’s menu.
Oh, there was a rich potatoey parmentier with a soft-poached golden yolk (apparently delivered by one of Frank’s concubines earlier that morning); an insanely succulent, singsonging piece of red-peppercorn-infused cod, cooked sous vide (posh boil-in-the-bag). There was a splendid bottle of something from nearby Bergerac to accompany. Jordi appeared at our table in his immaculate chef’s whites, suddenly, wide-eyed and Wonka-like, to gleefully introduce that evening’s cheeses, the names of the local producers and a few tasting tips. There was dessert, and that was, well, whatever – by that point we had melted into our blankets in a kind of blissful fugue state. Torches and candles had been lit around us and coffee and digestifs would shortly be served in the lounge.
Dinner is normally served at the communal dining room table but, for the two nights we were there, was served at separate tables in the garden. Yet there was ample opportunity to get to know our fellow guests, each night after dinner, as we sprawled across beautifully curated pieces of furniture, replete and knowing. In the course of our stay we got to know, among others, a German architect, a Brazilian food scientist, an English antique collector and a Belgian philosophy professor. Clever old us. That said, both days, apart from during cocktail hour, after dinner, or at the communal breakfast table, we really didn’t see much of anyone. With just seven rooms and such brilliantly discreet – but completely attentive – service, you feel as though you’ve been invited to stay at the home of a wonderfully sophisticated, thoughtful and generous friend.
We made a couple of modest excursions, purely out of a sense of duty. We walked from the Château grounds through fields of sunflowers to a nearby ninth-century church, the key to which Jordi kept in a secret drawer. We drove into town and popped into Super U – who can resist a French supermarket? We bought flan and carottes râpées and pastis and tins of French diluting juice. There were speakers in the car park trolley bays. Speakers, blaring out funk. So we danced.
Back at the gaff, it was time for Tanqueray. And Frank. And Patch. And Eduard with the menu. And Armagnac and cigarettes and music and chat and bed again. And after an, er, light breakfast of coffee, croissants, organic yoghurt with homemade apricot compote, local cheeses and saucisson, home-baked bread and white chocolate cake, it was time to say goodbye.
And we sat in our fun car for a long time under the trees, holding hands. Devising a wedding. And a car park reception.
Anonymously reviewed by Adam McDougall (Silver screen celabrater)
Whenever you book a stay at a Mr & Mrs Smith, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what real-life guests had to say in Château La Thuilière's guestbook below.
We came here as part of our honeymoon and really wish we could have stayed for longer. On arrival we were told our room had been an upgraded to XL suite which was a lovely surprise. The two hosts, Jordie and Eduoard (as well as their beautiful dog!) were so welcoming and helpful throughout our stay. Prior to arriving Eduoard helped organise a kayaking trip in Brantome (well worth it if you're feeling particularly active). The house has been stylishly renovated and the grounds really are spectacular. Make sure you leave enough time to make use of the small pool. The hosts go to a lot of effort to ensure that it feels like home. In the evenings we relaxed in the grand rooms making use of the extensive honesty bar and took drinks outside overlooking the wonderful grounds. We had dinner in the grounds of the Chateau both nights cooked by Jordie himself. The five-course dinner is different every night of the week and Jordie takes real pride in explaining where the ingredients are sourced locally from. We still can't believe that a simple carrot veloute topped with a scallop could be delicious! All in all, if you're looking to get away, relax and enjoy a slice of luxury at a very reasonable price then look no further.
Amy, BlackSmith stayed on 21 Aug 2013
My boyfriend and I enjoyed some proper time out at this gorgeous chateau near Bergerac. The owners are lovely and nothing is too much trouble for them. The chateau has six or seven guestrooms, so it is very peaceful and guests are encouraged to treat the place like home. There aren't staff milling around intrusively, so you can do your own thing without being disturbed… If you do require any help, though, there's a bell and someone will be over to help within minutes. We liked the well-stocked honesty bar and the beautiful furnishings; the character of the chateau has not been lost, only enhanced, with gorgeous, rich (and fairly masculine) decor. Dinner is a slow and delicious affair, with the option of al fresco dining on the lawn or around the grand 20-seat communal dining table if the weather turns. There is one evening menu of five courses, costing €39 a head, and all the food is sourced locally and prepared magnificently. I am still dreaming of a very simple starter dish of tomatoes with roasted pistachios and goat's cheese foam – incredible! There is a small pool to relax by (or in) and free bikes for guests to use to explore the local area. The chateau is in a great location to visit many of the attractions in the Dordogne and I would definitely recommend hiring a car, so you can get out and about as there's so much to see, but also because the nearest shops are a bit of a trek by foot. We visited Bergerac twice in our four-day stay as it was so lovely and I would encourage anyone to head over there if they have the time.
We could find very little to fault with Chateau La Thulliere, apart on our last night when there was quite a nosiy family staying. Our room (M) was above the billiard room, next to the stairs to the second floor – the sound of the music and billiard balls being hit was very clear, coupled with people going up and down the stairs, which made it difficult to get to sleep. I don't think many families generally stay over, though, so this may have been an isolated incident. Other than that, everything was perfect!
Sarah, BlackSmith stayed on 5 Aug 2013
I loved this hotel and would definitely go back. The interior was of a high standard, stylish and with attention to detail. The owners were very welcoming. An old and quirky property with a twist of modern. Can't imagine anyone would be disappointed.
Sally, BlackSmith stayed on 13 Sep 2012
Our stay at Chateau La Thuiliere was like coming home. We were never asked to formally check in. We were never asked for our names. The owners, Jordie and Eduard, simply knew who we were, welcomed us like long lost friends and talked to us like we have had known each other for years. They are both expert hosts and know how to make all the guests feel truly special and at ease. The rooms are masculine, yet romantic and the modern furnishings blend seamlessly with the chateau's original features. We have stayed in both rooms #1 and #9. Although you would be perfectly comfortable staying in your room all day, there are plenty of other common areas to explore. There's a games room with original (and cool on a hot day) floor tiles and a music room or lounge where you can sip a GT from the honor bar while reading one of the many books found throughout the chateau. The genuine, relaxed and very personal atmosphere of La Thuiliere makes it perfectly acceptable to walk around barefoot in cargo-pants or with shoes and a dinner jacket whatever works for you. There are plenty of things to do and see in the area (antiquing, wine tasting, canoeing, etc), but after a couple of days we just decided to spend our days unwinding and unplugging by the pool or in the gardens. There was simply no need to leave the chateau. Our standing 8 pm dinner reservation was itself something to look forward to. We were seated outside in the gardens under fabric canopies and soft lighting where we were served top of the line food and wine. There were no menus to choose from, no decisions to make. Simply lean back and enjoy the dishes that were made from locally sourced and fresh ingredients by expert hands. The fact that chickens as well as Patch, the resident dog, were walking around on the grounds among the diners gave the whole experience a romantic and relaxed feel. Absolutely wonderful! The owners, Jordie and Eduard, set a new standard in customer service, but it doesn't stop with them. Their entire staff excel at attentiveness and are truly happy to have you there with them. We are already planning our return trip.
Jay, GoldSmith stayed on 23 Jul 2012
This place is a gem and the two men of the house, Jordy and Edouardo, absolutely make it what it is. I thought I'd find the dark interiors too subdued but somehow with their eclectic approach it all works. Dinner was OK but we did arrive late so possibly just too much cheese too late in the day. Communal breakfast table and the feast therein was gorgeous, as was Jordy's enthusiasm for looking after his guests. The jambon was amazing. We were upgraded to the XL room with the balcony overlooking their truly special vista of land. These were the only rainy days of our sun-drenched holiday but it could not have been more perfectly timed in this cosy and romantic chateau. The walk to the 10th-century church was lovely, as is the story of how the chateau came to be true love.
Cathryn, BlackSmith stayed on 12 Jul 2012
Lovely service and food. Bit of a quiet area with Bergerac 30 minutes away so be aware if you go at the weekends, as nothing will be open. Take Mosquito repellent as the place is next to a forest. Overall an excellent couple of nights. They have a Gin menu with three brands of Tonic.
CHRISTOPHER, SilverSmith stayed on 9 Jun 2012
What an amazing place! Stunning design, an incredible atmosphere and from the moment we turned up we felt at home – very romantic and worth dressing up for. We weren’t sure about the communal dining set up initially, but we ended up loving it. It was the highlight of our stay – great fun, amazing food and wine and we made some new friends. Jordi and Eduard were perfect hosts and helped to make the night go with a bang. If you’re staying here, it’s worth making a trip into Bergerac; a lovely old town with loads of character. L'Imparfait (www.imparfait.com) is a good choice for lunch or dinner – traditional regional fare and a nice atmosphere. For dessert, a shop in the old square sells the most amazing selection of homemade ice cream. This is definitely a place we will return to.
Mark, BlackSmith stayed on 2 Jun 2012
Wow. This place is absolutely incredible and we would recommend it to anyone seeking a few days in the beautiful Dordogne countryside to recharge the batteries. We have just returned from a blissful stay at the Chateau. Our every need was catered for by Jordi and Eduard. We had breakfasts on the lawn, fine dining in the most opulent yet relaxed surroundings, refreshing dips in the outdoor pool and the best nights' sleep we have had in months. Our hosts went out of their way to ensure that our stay was memorable and arranged canoeing and cycling for us during our visit. They also have chickens (one of whom had just had 10 chicks), a few sheep one with very young lamb, and Patch the dog – all of which give a rustic, small-homestead-type feel to the land around you. This place really is a home from home. If you are looking for luxury in a relaxed informal environment, this place is a real ge. We will be returning.
Colette, SilverSmith stayed on 28 Mar 2012