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Hotel Highlights

  • Spectacular French château lovingly restored by Lady Hamlyn
  • Prime wine-tasting territory, and a superb cellar
  • Glorious gardens and sublime views of the Beaujolais countryside

Overview

The luxury Château de Bagnols hotel near Lyon has a moat, a drawbridge and towers of honey-coloured stone. Enjoy cookery courses, wine tasting, golf and tennis, or indulge in a gastronomic feast in the hotel's restaurant, washed down with an excellent selection of wines.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Château de Bagnols with us:

A bottle of Beaujolais wine and an illustrated book from the Château de Bagnols' collection

Facilities

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Château de Bagnols - Beaujolais - France

Need To Know

Rooms

27, including six suites.

Check–out

12 noon, but flexible where possible. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $228.05 (€200), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.50 per room per night on check-out.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast, from €25.

Also

Small dogs can be accommodated.

Hotel closed

The hotel closes for the winter season from 2 January to 6 March 2015.

At the hotel

Gym, hammam, spa, library with internet access, WiFi from €15 a day, DVD selections, bicycles to borrow. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD, CD on request, bottled water.

Our favourite rooms

We love the arched ceiling, 17th-century frescoes and gilded four-poster in junior suite Gaspard Dugué (Paradis Suite). The room was once part of the chapel where its namesake wed in 1609. Deluxe room Les Seigneurs d’Albon (Authentic Apartment) has a circular bathroom in the tower. The Elegant Apartments are more contemporary hideaways in this historic setting.

Poolside

In the summer, the heated outdoor swimming pool is a perfect circle of sparkling blue hidden away in the grounds. On cooler days, head indoors to the spa's indoor pool.

Spa

A 400sq m haven of honey-hued stone and roaring fireplaces, the Royal Relaxing Spa has four treatment rooms (including a couple’s room), a hammam and swimming pool. Inspired by the château’s surroundings, the spa’s menu combines indulgent Espa treatments (hot stone massages, mud wraps and eye masks) with tailored hi-tech facials from Biologique Recherche.

Packing tips

Bubble wrap, or other glass-protecting materials – you'll want to bring back some wine.

Also

Horse-drawn carriage rides, picnics, hot-air-balloon flights, wine-tasting by arrangement. Luxury chauffeured cars available for transfers and touring.

Children

Extra beds (free for under-13s) are available in some rooms. Cots, changing mats, nappies, bottle heaters, baby baths and potties can be provided, and there’s a kids' menu. English-speaking babysitters charge from €20 an hour, with a day's notice.

Food and drink

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Château de Bagnols - Beaujolais - France

Hotel Restaurant

Boasting France’s largest gothic chimney, the Salle des Gardes serves modern French cuisine. Local charcuterie, hand-caught fish from nearby streams and ripe regional cheeses make feasts fit for a king (Charles VIII, whose 1490 visit is commemorated by a splendid coat of arms, would no doubt have approved). In Le 1217, chef Jean Alexandre Ouaratta has created an inventive fine-dining menu: sample pigeon stuffed with foie gras in a Madagascan wild-black-pepper jus, or opt for a plump spit-roasted Bresse chicken to share. Dinner is served here on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. The Michelin-starred 1217 is something of a hot ticket, so book your table in advance for both lunch and dinner (don't expect there to be a spare table for you during your stay if you don't). For a more casual meal, Le Café du Château does a fine line in French classics (lime and coconut-dressed tuna carpaccio, beef tenderloin, and elegant fish dishes). The bistro's open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday and dinner only on Sunday; again, book in advance to be sure of a table.

Hotel Bar

There’s no official drinking den here, but you can order wine or soft drinks to enjoy on velvet sofas beside the fire in the Grand Salon. In summer, staff will bring you drinks alfresco on the terrace.

Last orders

Have breakfast any time from 7am until 10.30am. The hotel's restaurants are open from noon to 1.30pm for lunch and 7.30pm–9pm for dinner (dinner is served in Le 1217 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday).

Room service

Available round the clock. Also served in the public lounges when the restaurant is closed.

Smith Insider

Dress code

No jeans: châtelaine chic for her; jacket for him.

Top table

Dine by the fire in winter; in summer, eat in the Salon Ombragé, an outdoor dining space shaded by 100-year-old lime trees.

Local Guide

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Château de Bagnols - Beaujolais - France
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Vines grow all around Bagnols. Ask the concierge to point you towards a friendly cave for tastings.

Local restaurants

Le Vieux Moulin on Chemin du Vieux Moulin in Alix (+33 (0)4 78 43 91 66; www.lemoulindalix.com) is a stone-built Rhôneside mill, where you can fill up on mustardy sausages or frogs’ legs. Request a table in the conservatory at Les Terrasses de Pommiers at 706 montée de Buisante in Pommiers (+33 (0)4 74 65 05 27; www.terrasses-de-pommiers.com), where beautiful Beaujolais views accompany classic cuisine such as roasted sea bream or fillet of beef. Exposed brickwork and low beamed ceilings create a cottagey feel at La Vieille Auberge, at 201 rue Paul Causeret in Oingt (+33 (0)4 74 71 28 79; www.la-vieille-auberge-restaurant.fr). The food is simple (chicken with cream of mushrooms, andouillette), but superb in flavour. Just north of Lyon, L’Auberge de l’Ile on Place Notre Dame, L’Ile Barbe (+33 (0)4 78 83 99 49; www.aubergedelile.com) is a romantic 17th-century house serving divine dishes such as foie gras ravioli and slow-poached cod in garlic cream. Guy Lassausaie, on Rue de Belle Cise in Chasselay, is another excellent option with a contemporary atmosphere (+33 (0)4 78 47 62 59; www.guy-lassausaie.com).

+ Enlarge
Cultivated Beaujolais

Château de Bagnols

Le Bourg, 69620, Bagnols, Beaujolais, France

Planes

The nearest airport is Lyon Saint Exupéry; the drive from here to the hotel should take around 45 minutes. Château fans from London can fly British Airways (www.ba.com) from Heathrow or easyJet (www.easyjet.com) from London Stansted.

Trains

High-speed TGV (www.raileurope.co.uk) trains making their way across the country call in regularly at Lyon.

Automobiles

From the airport, follow signs for Lyon, Paris or Marseille, then when you’ve reached the D338, keep eyes peeled for signs for Bagnols. If you’re coming via the A6, you’ll need exit 31.2. From the airport, follow signs for motorway A42, towards Lyon, Paris and Marseille, then take motorway A46 towards Paris. Take exit 31.2 to Villefranche-sur-Saône, and follow signs for Roanne, crossing several roundabouts until you reach the D338. Continue towards Roanne and Tarare and look out for the sign to Bagnols and the Château on the right, about 11km from exit 31.2.

Other

Helicopters can land in the neighbouring field.

Reviews

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Château de Bagnols - Beaujolais - France
Château de Bagnols
Château de Bagnols Le Bourg Bagnols 69620 Beaujolais France

Anonymous review

by , Design doyenne at Studioilse

Rating: 10/10 stars
This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France. For more than a decade, I had dreamt of the Château de Bagnols. When I was editor of Elle Decoration, I saw incredible pictures that lodged in my imagination, images from childhood: Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard’s Castle, The Princess and the Pea… The extravagant interiors looked about as …
Read more

Château de Bagnols

Anonymous review by Ilse Crawford, Design doyenne

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

For more than a decade, I had dreamt of the Château de Bagnols. When I was editor of Elle Decoration, I saw incredible pictures that lodged in my imagination, images from childhood: Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard’s Castle, The Princess and the Pea… The extravagant interiors looked about as far from the idea of a boutique hotel, and from the modern design that filled the pages of my magazine, as was possible. Intensely beautiful, the pictures that struck me most were of its beds, which simply beggared belief – insane four-posters piled high with mattresses and hung with heavy red-brocade drapes or antique silks. This was the stuff of the films – of Peter Greenaway and Luchino Visconti. However, it was a dream, and I never went.

Now, finally, invited to review the hotel with my husband, it was time to visit Bagnols in the heart of Beaujolais. Would I be horribly disappointed? Were those pictures a stylised sham? As we arrived in the village of Bagnols, 12 miles from Lyons, and spied the extraordinary castle walls, the answer was, clearly, no. This is a really staggering building in a tiny village, its historic might absolutely apparent. Complete with moat, drawbridge and towers in the honey-coloured stone called pierre dorée, the schoolbook stronghold is punctured by neat, cruciform arrow holes. (You might call it a hole-istic experience, perhaps, to be the recipient of an arrow from one of those.)

The interior of the château does not disappoint. It is the brainchild of a truly cultured woman, Lady Helen Hamlyn, who also owns the house by architects Mendelsohn and Chermayeff in Old Church Street, London – one of England’s first modernist houses. The rooms in both the original 13th-century castle and the ‘new’ (ie: 15th-century) block are beautiful. Our bed was as sublime as I had hoped, decorated with fragile antique textiles and made up with tactile Swiss bedlinen (which you can buy, too). Next to the bed, the water tumblers were made of silver, giving us a visceral introduction to what it must have been to be a French aristocrat. The bathroom was grand, too, with an antique marble bath and local products including a really, really strong lavender bath foam – the type that works against typhoid and tigers. We also had a huge sitting room, filled with bleeding-heart-coloured sofas, and another tiny room covered with early frescoes. It blows your mind.

The kitchens are central to the building and, thanks to a clever sleight of design, you walk through them on your way to anywhere, past the teeming, steaming theatre of food preparation. The grounds are lovely, with dense borders of lavender and a formal garden where we took drinks before dinner. The swimming pool is round, with grass growing right up to its edge. Alas, all this whimsy and wonder has to fit into a 21st-century reality, and the food and service at Bagnols are of a very French kind, rather than tallying, to my mind, with the beyond-beautiful environment. The human contact is formal and, operationally, the hotel deals in star ratings and status rather than princesses and peas.

The Château de Bagnols is certainly the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed in. To have a heavenly time, order room service (after all, how often do you have your own four-poster?). The rooms are so exquisite it is mad not to stay in for the evening and do your own variation on ‘You be Louis and I’ll be Marie Antoinette.’ Just don’t lose your head. We also dined in the very grand Salle des Gardes, where we had cherry clafoutis for pudding; in contrast, we lunched under the trees, on goat’s cheese and red wine.

During the day, go out and explore, do your own thing; the château has bicycles you can go off on, for picnics and jaunts. We made use of their nicely produced book of trips that you can enjoy by bike or car, which took us to just the sort of places we love. We spent a morning at an over-the-top food market at Villefranche, where we did the rounds of the vast quantities of local produce, buying huge bags and bundles to take home, including an array of fresh goat’s cheese and a sausage called Jésus (the old ladies laughed when I asked them why, leaving me none the wiser), as well ogling as all those great, artistically ordered piles of fruit and vegetables.

Hanging out in yeasty cellars and debating the relative values of 2004 and 2002 is very much our idea of fun, so we also enjoyed a visit to a much-awarded local winemaker, Alain Chatoux, who makes Beaujolais and some very decent white. If you think there is no significant difference between men and women, you might think again after a session of wine-tasting. Down in Mr Chatroux’s chilly cave, we noted that Mr Smith preferred the powerful kick of a 2003 or a 2005 vintage, while Mrs Smith put her money on the lighter, chillable 2002 or 2004. An interesting experiment, and not one without its non-scientific compensations.

For a change of aesthetic, we drove an hour to see the modernist convent La Tourette by Le Corbusier. One of his last works, it is a building that expresses the interior life of man, and embodies his search for intensity and soul. Built around the progress of the sun, the building allows light to enter the building in many different ways. Slits of light accompany you down corridors; you enter a chapel through a transformational wall of light; and altars are dramatically lit with wizard fingers of light. It is incredibly moving. We weren't sure how to follow that, except by plunging back into the brocade-draped, fresco-covered, sumptuous worldliness of our quarters at Château de Bagnols – from the sublime to the luxurious, you might say.

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 have to say about Château de Bagnols in the Guestbook below…

GoldSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The atmosphere and sheer beauty of the Chateau - the photographs do not to the place justice and the staff were more than accommodating and charming. 10/10

Don’t expect

Rave parties

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on Pleased by their absence!

We loved

The huge, atmospheric and luxurious rooms, full of original charm and a sort of aristocratic shabbiness. Food was excellent and eating in the courtyard under the glassed in, starry skies a wonderful experience.

Don’t expect

Very attentive service, and the lack of a bar may hinder some. We enjoyed the solitude, but were a bit underwhelmed by the pool.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The chateau is beautiful. The gardens are calming and extensive. The rooms are incredible.. you will feel like royalty.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Everything! The chateau and setting were beautiful, everything is well thought out and we had a fantastic evening meal.

Don’t expect

Lots of children.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The quietness of the hotel, the spa facilities, the beautiful grounds and the amazing service and quality of food! Don't leave the hotel unless you're taking in the gardens!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The chateau's exterior and terrace. Our room, Hessler: one of the nicest we've ever had. The spa and indoor pool.

Don’t expect

Outdoor eating is limited to a row of tables on a bridge over the moat, no proper dining terrace. There is a simple menu five nights a week and a gastronomic one, which we missed, only two nights a week. The interior courtyard of the chateau has been glassed over (quite a feat) and furnished as a cafe where the non-gastronomic meals and breakfast are taken and the effect is less than luxurious. There is no dedicated bar or salon: this and the food side of our stay were disappointing.

Rating: 7/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The Chateau is beautiful and the rooms are fantastic. Lovely pool and grounds, fabulous staff. 10/10.

Don’t expect

To be pampered by staff by the pool as they rarely turn up to get you drinks. The food is brilliant and the staff are lovely, but there are simply not enough of them so service can appear very slow and laboured.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the attentive service, antiques in beautiful rooms in gorgeous surroundings, amazing pool and gardens, valet parking, having your windscreen cleaned, and the fantastic wine list.

Don’t expect

I'm looking forward to the spa and indoor pool, which are planned for the end of September!

Rating: 10/10 stars