Need to know
17, including 14 suites.
Noon, but flexible for 50 per cent of the room rate. Earliest check-in, 4pm, also flexible for a fee.
Double rooms from $357.57 (€318), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.50 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include breakfast.
Drinkers, rejoice: not only are you in Cognac country (Hennessy, Martell and Remy Martin are made in the double-distilled brandy’s namesake town on the Charente river; the birthplace of Courvoisier is down the road in Jarnac), you’re also just a 90-minute drive from Bordeaux’s bountiful vineyards.
16 December to 1 March 2019.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, tennis court, bicycles, (small) boats and wellies to borrow, gym, library. In rooms: TV, air-conditioning, minibar (with free soft drinks for Smith members), free bottled water, tea and coffee kit, and Sothys bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Everything sounds better in French, especially the domaine’s room names (Serpentaire, Lune, Soleil…). We loved Vénus, for its giant bathroom, high ceiling and top-drawer views, and Saturne for its fireplace and tower-showcasing glass roof. Families and groups of friends should book out the five-bedroom, pond-facing Dragon, the three-bedroom Serpentaire by the meadows, or the two-bedroom Cassiopée or Centaure.
There are two huge, heated pools: one out in the grounds (open from May to October) and another indoors by the Roman baths.
The Moulin des Etangs spa makes use of its spectacular setting: heritage equipment from the mill is used to produce nut oil, garden plants are employed both dried and fresh in compresses, ground wheat makes its way into the body scrubs and Charentes salt peps up the footbaths.
The French, traditionally, are perma-chic – this may be the countryside, but don’t chance it: go with Le Chameau all the way.
The gardens are easily navigable for wheelchair users and one room (Mercure) has been adapted.
Dog baskets, bowls and food are provided free – you'll need to book a room in the Longère or Farm Cottages. See more pet-friendly hotels in Aquitaine.
All ages are welcome, but the estate has a few hazards for toddlers, not least the lakes. A baby cot (free) or extra bed (free for under-12s, €25 otherwise) can be added to all but Prestige rooms, but the multiple-bedroom rooms are best for families.
Extra beds and cots can be added to most rooms, but the multiple-bedroom rooms are best for families.
The Domaine des Enfants programme keeps little Smiths busy with calligraphy classes, baking, horse-riding, angling, farm tours and more.
On site, you’ll find a playground with a trampoline and zipline, giant chess, ping-pong, tennis, bicycles. There’s also a play area in the attic with cards, fancy dress, snooker and table football.
Both pools are family friendly.
Children are welcome in both restaurants; there are special menus, highchairs and colouring-in books available on request. Over-12s are allowed in the bar.
No need to pack
Baby bedlinen, crayons, paints and paper, books, puzzles, bicycle helmets, board games.
The domaine has its own organic vegetable garden; electric cars are provided for guests staying in the cottages on the estate.