Hotel Highlights

  • Spectacular scenery for rural rambles
  • Fantastic food fashioned from daily delivered produce
  • Friendly community atmosphere in tiny village setting

Overview

The little bistro has been serving up kirsch and Picon to thirsty Williers villagers since World War II, but the twin farmhouses of Chez Odette have a shiny modern sheen, with sultry chocolate hues and sleek woody walls. Snuggled in a green and grassy corner of northern France, a hop from the Belgian border, it’s an intimate rural hideaway, stamped with style.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Chez Odette with us:

A bottle of champagne

Facilities

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Chez Odette hotel - Champagne Ardenne - France

Need To Know

Rooms

Nine, including two suites, spread between a pair of buildings.

Check–out

12 noon, but may be flexible. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $232.38 (€168), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates exclude a Continental breakfast of pastries, bread and jam, and hot drinks (€19 a person). Guests can order hot dishes from the à la carte menu at extra cost.

Also

Ask nicely, and Odette’s staff will whisk you 5km down the road to L’Abbage d’Orval in Belgium, where you can combine the twin pleasures of rambling around abbey ruins and taste-testing Trappist brews and cheeses (www.orval.be).

At the hotel

Book/DVD library, free WiFi throughout, bikes for hire. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD, iPod dock, bottled water.

Our favourite rooms

No 9 has everything going for it: peaceful privacy, far from any bustle, dark-wood walls, a working open fireplace, deep-set bath with separate shower, and wonderful views of the village and fields beyond. No 5 has exposed beams and a spacious, barn-like feel. No 1 is ideal for families – huge, with bay windows.

Packing tips

No need for wellies – the hotel has a supply of all sizes for roving ramblers.

Also

Pets are welcome, and there’s plenty of dog-walking acreage in the surrounding woodland.

Children

Chez Odette is happy to provide baby beds (€25) and highchairs.

Weddings

This property is suitable for weddings

More details

Food & Drink

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Chez Odette hotel - Champagne Ardenne - France

Hotel Restaurant

The hotel’s poised and polished eatery is a picture of romance, with black-wood furniture, lamplight and inventive seasonal cuisine. (Closed from Sunday evening to Tuesday afternoon.)

Hotel Bar

Attached to a snug sitting room with cosy cushioned sofas and board games aplenty, Odette’s bar-bistro is the place to sample the local Trappist brew, Orval, accompanied by the customary tot of Picon bitters. Guests generally only have to pay for bottled drinks.

Last orders

Lunch is served from noon, dinner from 7pm, but light meals and snacks are available all day in the bar-bistro, which closes at 10pm.

Room service

Anything on the restaurant or bistro menu can be brought to your room before 8pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Mr Smith should aim for country-gent casual; demure summer dress for Madame.

Top table

On the terrace, at a table twinkling with tea lights.

Local Guide

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Chez Odette hotel - Champagne Ardenne - France
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

With just 38 residents, Williers is the third smallest town in France, so local demand for gourmet eating is more than met by Chez Odette. Fortunately, the Belgian border is minutes away, allowing you to sample another nation’s food style. The dishes at La Roseraie in Lacuisine, Florenville, are reliably delicious (+32 (0)6 131 1039; www.laroseraie-lacuisine.net; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Brasserie Albert 1er in the centre of Florenville is recommended for an alfresco tasting tour of Belgian beer, with good fresh fish and salads (+32 (0)6 131 1091). Opposite the Abbey in Orval, La Nouvelle Hostellerie d’Orval offers hearty rustic lunches, with plenty of monk-made beer and cheese (+32 (0)6 131 4365).

+ Enlarge
Forested frontier village

Chez Odette

Rue Principale, 08110, Williers, Champagne-Ardennes, France

Planes

Luxembourg Airport is 65km away (about an hour’s drive) over the border, and receives daily direct flights from London City, Heathrow and Gatwick. Brussels Airport is a little further (75km) – the journey takes about two hours by car. There’s a private airport, Charleville-Mézières, 25 minutes away, where charter flights and helicopters can touch down.

Trains

Florenville, in Belgium, is 5km from Williers and its station is on the Brussels–Luxembourg line, taking just under three hours from Brussels, where you can hop on and off the Eurostar direct to London. Carignan, 10km away, is 2½ hours from Paris, with a change at Charleville-Mézières.

Automobiles

Although it’s just about possible to get around without one, a car will be invaluable in negotiating the rural roads of the Ardennes, and there’s plenty of free parking at Chez Odette. You can easily hire wheels at both Luxembourg and Brussels airports.

Reviews

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Chez Odette hotel - Champagne Ardenne - France

Anonymous review

by Barry Ashworth , Beat poet

This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.

Dead of night in the tiny village of Williers, a few kilometres from the Belgian border, and the mercury reads minus six. It feels as if we’re entering a land that time forgot: winding, s...

Read more

Chez Odette

Anonymous review by Barry Ashworth, Beat poet

This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.

Dead of night in the tiny village of Williers, a few kilometres from the Belgian border, and the mercury reads minus six. It feels as if we’re entering a land that time forgot: winding, snow-covered roads, forested either side for miles. We strain to make out a handful of turn-of-the-century cottages. A clearing finally reveals two charming farmhouses, emanating warm, inviting light from both sides of the road. Ah, Chez Odette!

The supremely affable Jorge comes running out of nowhere to greet us on this breathtakingly cold night. Ushered into the seductive, candlelit entrance, we pad across a black furry rug and up some tiny stairs to room No 9. The lack of formality is refreshing. A brief explanation reveals we are residing in the newly renovated nine-roomed farmhouse on the opposite side to Odette’s original bistro. We’ve arrived at our very own private bolthole in the countryside.

Being the metrosexual man I am, I’ve allowed Mrs Smith to whisk me away for a pre-Valentine’s winter break in this unique enclave on the eastern edge of France. Since I’ve broken my foot on a recent trip to Thailand, doing anything energetic is not an option. (Hopping, incidentally, really does nothing for one’s masculine prowess.) So I am relieved to see that this looks the kind of place I can kick back – well, without actually kicking – relax and savour the simplicity of life.

A log-filled fireplace in our room is beckoning to be lit with the smart faux-leather fire igniter – the kind of bizarrely expensive item you might seek in Asprey for the man who has everything. This extraordinarily designed room is most unexpected in this rural part of the Ardennes. It’s pure luxury, unadulterated yet understated.

United by the chocolate theme throughout, there’s a multiplicity of mahogany hues; a sumptuous fur bedspread enhances the air of decadence. Logs are piled from floor to ceiling in one corner, and individual tables and lamps designed by the notable Marcel Wanders add modernist precision. As for the enormous bath tub, it is so deep that when it’s filled Mrs Smith is immersed neck-deep in water. When I hit the walk-in tiled shower, it’s like standing under Niagara Falls. Your average guesthouse this isn’t.

Downstairs, a small, deliciously cosy living room and library is decked out with classic coffee-table books and board games. Mrs Smith challenges me to a game of chess by another fireplace glowing merrily away. Next door, we find a miniscule but well-stocked honesty bar. Depending on your thirst, being honest can be expensive. Luckily, I learned to make cocktails in Ibiza, and you know how generous those Spanish barmen are with their measures...

Across the way is the lovingly restored bistro, where the hotel’s namesake Odette originally held court. She died in 1999, but left the village’s main hub as her legacy. Soft candlelight, open fireplaces, a small bar and huge leather Chesterfield sofas offer the perfect segue between aperitif and supper. Old Odette-era photographs adorn the walls; a flatscreen TV shows Charlie Chaplin films; unobtrusive downbeat tunes play in the background – it is old and new blended perfectly. We sink into the deep leather sofa to try out the much-revered local ale, brewed by the Trappist monks at the Orval monastery.

‘It’s just 5km away,’ Jorge informs us, trying to convince us we should take a brisk walk there in the morning. Hmm... snow, aforementioned injury – perhaps not. But a quick drive is an option, as it’s indeed a trip worth making. Built in the 1100s, the monastery, with its cheese factory and brewery, is steeped in history. Had I been able, a hike through the dense forest would have been my choice of travel; it’d be the perfect walk for a balmy day. Perhaps when I’m feeling more bipedal. One can only imagine how this sleepy spot must spring to life in the full glory of summer. Kayaking, horse riding, hiking through forests; and the fairy-tale city of Luxembourg is just a short hop on the train from the small town of Florenville – there’s so much to partake in.

Sipping our rich, deep golden brew from the traditional goblet-style glass, we make our menu selections before being seated in the neatly arranged, original-beamed restaurant. Here, Miguel Giltaire presides over beautifully presented food. Gastronomic? Yes. Overtly elaborate or pretentious? No. Plumping for the pan-roasted steak, I decide not to insult the French too much, and I order it à point, as opposed to my usual (incinerated). Although tempted by the monkfish, shellfish and lobster spaghetti, Mrs Smith has succulent braised pigeon accompanied by puréed sweet potato. A triumvirate of crème brûlées (brown-sugar baked apple, hazelnut praline and tangy-tart citrus) rounds off our meal perfectly. Wanting for nothing, we trot off to bed in our very private residence, just across the way.

The overriding feeling you get here is that the presence and character of Odette lives on. She has been lovingly immortalised by the hotel’s new owner, a close friend of hers. He has painstakingly maintained original features and balanced them with contemporary design to rival that of any boutique hotel. Odette herself never left the village in her entire life. Hearing of future plans to open an Odette by the sea, and maybe one in London, I for one look forward to greeting her wherever she may appear.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Chez Odette's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on 28 Mar 2014

We loved

The room was great: big comfy bed, simple but classy furnishings, big bath and black-out blinds. I liked the friendly and informal service.

Don’t expect

The restaurant was a bit inefficient; there seemed to be a lack of serving staff for the number of tables.

Rating: 6/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 21 Mar 2014

We loved

I enjoyed the excellent food, attentive service, high-quality bed linen and peace and quiet.

Don’t expect

The ensuite bathroom was not fully enclosed and lacked privacy somewhat.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 4 Jan 2014

We loved

I liked the beautiful room (perfect for a romantic weekend), the friendly staff and the good food in the restaurant.

Don’t expect

Everything was very slow in the restaurant; it was up to an hour between two courses and we were just a table of two.

Rating: 7/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 3 May 2013

We loved

It was so peaceful. If quiet isn't your thing, this isn't the place for you as there isn't a lot going on, but it's so calm and there are lovely walking areas surrounding the hotel.

Rating: 8/10 stars