Les Hortensias du Lac is a leisurely lakeside hotel in the seaspray-scented Landes region of southwest France, with tree-lined trails leading to surf-beaten beaches and sand dunes on the Atlantic coast. There’s an air of the Hamptons about the light-flooded interiors, where planks of white-painted wood meet soft neutral fabrics, and there’s a soul-soothing spa crafted from sand-coloured stone. In the gardens, you’ll find a lake-facing infinity pool nestled among the pine trees, and a fish-focused restaurant serving sustainable local produce.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Domaine de Fontenille wine and 10 per cent off spa treatments
Noon, check-in 3pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £100.88 (€120), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.20 per person per night on check-out.
Rates don’t include breakfast, but for you can have your way with the buffet of hams, cheeses, eggs and freshly baked croissants for €25 (€15 for children).
If you’ve got a taste for Fontenille wines, visit the terroir in person at sister-hotel Domaine de Fontenille, over in Provence.
The hotel is closed from 18 November to 8 December, 2019, and from 20 January to 19 February, 2020.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, fitness room. In rooms: TV, iPod dock, minibar with free soft drinks, Ren bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The lake views are lush – go for the Suite Lake View and you get oodles of space and peerless panoramas from the balcony.
Palms and pine trees shelter the large, square infinity pool, which is flanked by svelte sunloungers looking out to the lake.
The cavernous, 450sq m spa includes a sauna, dry- and wet-massage rooms, an outdoor Nordic bath, a whirlpool bath, a cold bath (for cooling off) and a tea shop (for warming up). The organic products come from La Bruket, a coastal cosmetics brand based in Sweden.
A sunhat, with a strap as security against gusts of ocean breeze.
There are two rooms designed for wheelchair users, and all the common areas are accessible, too.
All ages welcome. Extra beds or cots can be added to all rooms.
The hotel has been renovated with an eco-friendly ethos – new buildings are constructed of local wood to blend in with the environment and the interiors maximise natural light to reduce energy use. The restaurant deals solely in local, sustainable produce.
Sit outside on the terrace, where sails shelter you from the breeze.
The hotel’s restaurant is crafted entirely from wood and tucked between the pine trees on the lake shore, with sweeping views over the water. Chef Philippe Moreno earned his culinary chops in Gérald Passédat’s Michelin-starred kitchen in Marseille – expect a menu of fresh, sustainable fish, cooked on the plancha grill and served with the pick of the season’s local produce.
The poolside bar shakes up signature cocktails alongside champagne and curated wines from the prestigious Fontenille estate. Listen out for live jazz, and order tapas and cured meats for a nibble on the side.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10.30am; lunch in the restaurant is from noon to 1.45pm, and dinner is from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. The bar is open from 7am to 11pm, and the dining room, terrace and lounge are open 24 hours a day.
You can order from the full restaurant menu whenever the kitchen is open. Out of hours, pick from plates of cheese, charcuterie and chunky sandwiches.
The hotel is on the shore of Lake Hossegor, 20km north of Biarritz on France’s Atlantic coast.
Fly into Biarritz airport with Easyjet or Ryanair from Stansted, Gatwick or Luton – it takes around an hour and 45 minutes. The hotel is a half-hour drive away; private transfers can be arranged for €80 each way.
The nearest train station is Dax, 30 minutes from the hotel. The high-speed TGV from Paris covers the 685km journey in just three and a half hours; add on the Eurostar from London and a no-fly itinerary is absolutely feasible. Transfers from Dax to the hotel cost €80.
A car is handy for cruising up and down the Atlantic seaboard; you can be in San Sebastián in an hour, and Bordeaux in two. Hire from the airport, and park up for free at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Do some circuits at the spa – soaking in the whirlpool, Nordic and c-c-cold baths, with an occasional pitstop in the massage rooms. If you’re activity-inclined, join Pilates classes, swim in the pool, hit the fitness room, or work out en plein air with jogs along the beach. Catch up on the catch-of-the-day at the lakeside restaurant, or sip champagne cocktails at the bar. Beyond the hotel itself, watersports are top of the menu. Whet your appetite with gentle paddleboarding on Lake Hossegor, then catch the sea breeze with windsurfing and surf the Atlantic breakers at La Gravière beach. It’s a short walk to La Plage Blanche, a sheltered strip of sand lapped by shallow water – to venture further, rent bikes (either conventional or electric) and pedal off through the pines. In the history-stuffed town of Dax, you’ll find hot springs, Roman ruins and one of France’s only remaining bull rings. Further afield, you've got surf-centric Biarritz, the high-society getaway of choice in the 19th century, still sprinkled with belle époque glamour and art deco villas.
The menu at cosy bistro O’petits Oignons (34 Rue du Lac) changes every week, but whether it’s courgette frittata or beef gratin you can be sure of a square meal. For oysters on the waterfront, go to Lou Casaou de le Ma (Avenue du Tour du Lac), or get your five-a-day of fruits de mer at Le Pavé du Port (16 Quai Bonamour). The cream of Capbreton is La Petite Table (7 Quai de la Pêcherie), where specialties include Wagyu steak with artichokes and potato mille-feuille, and Albacore tuna with foie gras and hazelnut butter.
You won’t get fancy cosmopolitans or masterfully made martinis at L’Île du Malt (51 Avenue des Tisserands), but after a day in the surf you won’t want them. What you will want is a craft brew from their cavernous beer room, and maybe a platter of charcuterie. Each evening, take your seat at Lou Cabana and for a sundowner at sundown.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this lakeside hotel in Aquitaine and unpacked their seashells and surfshorts, a full account of their southwest France break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Les Hortensias du Lac in Hossegor…
It’s hard to pinpoint what makes Les Hortensias du Lac so special, because it can be many things to different people. Its headline attraction is the water – surfers salivate at the prospect of ocean breakers on the Atlantic coast, while paddleboarders purr at the sight of Lake Hossegor outside their hotel window. But there’s plenty here for landlubbers, too – cycle paths and walking trails wind through the pines, leading to untrodden coves and soaring sand dunes. Culture fiends can delve into the Basque Country, buzzing Biarritz or Roman-era Dax, and foodies can feast on some of Europe’s most sumptuous seafood. And if all that’s sounding altogether too energetic, you can hole up at the spa, working your way through the massage menu and dipping in and out of the numerous pools. Les Hortensias, you see, is a multi-talented kind of place, a specialist in several fields.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Les Hortensias du Lac’s Guestbook below.
No Smith members have posted their reviews of Les Hortensias du Lac yet. You could be the first!