At luxury French hotel Les Sources de Caudalie excellent regional wines can be found in bottles, barrels and infused into facials, scrubs, massages and more. Designed to look like a country village from an antique postcard, each of the hotel’s elegant rustic buildings has a new treat for visiting Smiths to uncover (there's even le Château du Thil, five minutes' drive away, available to book exclusively). Start in the Vinothérapie Spa – the birthplace of Caudalie’s world-famous, grape-based beauty products – then follow a winding pathway past outcrops of wild flowers and wander by the lake to reach bar Rouge where fruits of the house vines can be sipped and savoured. Through door number three is the two-Michelin-star-spangled restaurant. If you overindulge, just cycle off your six- (or more) course dinner through the vineyards or while perfecting your serve with tennis coach, Julien – but, staying here, you’ve already got a run of aces.
Get this when you book through us:
One free breakfast each, per stay, a room upgrade if a higher category's available; SilverSmith and GoldSmith members also get a tasting session in Grocery Wine bar, and all Smith members get an extra-special VIP welcome
Double rooms from £269.62 (€307), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates exclude a buffet breakfast of fresh pastries and breads, charcuterie, fruits, cereals, yoghurts, cheeses, eggs and bacon ( €18 a person a day if staying at Château le Thil, otherwise €26 a person, each day).
A stroll through the gardens is like a wander through a contemporary sculpture park. Some of the large metal sculptures are identifiable as animals – it’s hard to miss Barry Flanagan’s large hare sculpture as you come up the drive – while others are more abstract and beautifully frame the grounds for an Insta-snap or two. Borrow a bike (free to guests) and take a leisurely tour of the grounds and surrounding area.
At the hotel
Château Smith Haut Lafitte winery, tennis court and coach, small farm, bikes, gym and personal trainer, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV with DVD player, iPod dock, minibar, free bottled water, Nespresso coffee machine and tea-making facilities.
Our favourite rooms
Decorated by French wedding-dress designer Delphine Manivet, the waterside île aux Oiseaux Suite is one seriously romantic honeymoon hideaway. If you’re celebrating a special event, or are to the château born, book the elegant 18th-century Château Le Thil in its entirety: it's a five-minute drive from the main hotel.
You’re spoilt for swimming options here; there are three pools and a hot tub to choose from. You’ll need to book a treatment to use the spa pool – what a bother – but the rest are open to all. The main indoor pool is set in a converted barn with original beams; the floor of the pool is emblazoned with a print by photographer Mathilde de l’Ecotais. Open from May to October, the heated outdoor pool is surrounded by elegant, sun-blessed loungers. The water for the outdoor hot tub is drawn from a natural hot-spring, 540 metres beneath the earth; the tub is suitably shaped like an old wine-press and is open all-year round.
Not just any spa, this is the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa, the birthplace of Caudalie’s wine-based lotions and potions. There are 19 treatment rooms, three for couples and some with private barrel baths, and a small indoor swimming pool with built-in seats from which to admire the hotel’s picturesque grounds pre- or post-treatment. Don’t be fooled by the the spa’s luxurious woodshack look: treatments here are high-tech; Caudalie employ recent scientific discoveries to squeeze each and every mineral out of their grapes and vines. If a single treatment isn’t decadent enough, book a full- or half-day ritual; couples can try the Vines for Lovers ritual, which includes a 50-minute facial treatment, a Fleur de Vigne candle massage and a romantic barrel bath filled with natural spring water drawn from 540 metres below the hotel. For weekend pampering sessions, you'll need to book at least three treatments, and we recommend booking all your spa sessions at least a month in advance.
Leave as much space in your suitcase as possible to fill with bottles of Smith Haut Lafitte wine.
Most ground-floor public areas and bedrooms are wheelchair accessible, and there are paved walkways around the grounds.
Kids of all ages are welcome. Babysitting costs €38 an hour and must be booked 48 hours in advance. The hotel can provide baby cots, changing mats, bottle-sterilising and warming facilities, highchairs, toys, books, DVDs, arm bands and kids bikes.
There’s something for every age here; toddlers can pet goats and play with other small Smiths in the Le Petit Château games room while teenagers perfect their serve on the tennis court or work out any angst in the spa.
All rooms in the main hotel can fit a baby cot (€20). The hotel is spread across several buildings, so be sure to check with Smith24 when booking that yours are in the same place.
Children will be occupied for hours at Les Sources de Caudalie. There’s plenty of outdoor space to explore; there’s a farm at the bottom of the garden with goats and chickens which kids can feed. Borrow bikes – the hotel has petit vélos for kids – and cycle past the vineyard to the tennis court; tennis coach Julien offers kids coaching lessons. Le Petit Château games room has lots of soft toys, books, board games, crayons and paints for small Smiths. Ask at reception to see the DVD library stocked-full of U-rated films to watch in your room.
Kids can use both of the hotel’s pools but must be supervised at all times – it’s French law. No need to pack arm-bands and swimming aids, the hotel is all set for waterbabies.
Kids will enjoy the laidback atmosphere of La Table du Lavoir compared to the crisp white setting of La Grand'Vigne, although both have kids menus and highchairs on offer.
Babysitting costs €38 an hour and must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.
No need to pack
Anything really… The hotel can provide changing mats, cot linens, baby-monitors, bottle-sterilising facilities, bottle warmers, baby baths and mini-bathrobes and slippers.
The hotel is part of the 1% For the Planet project and donates one per cent of its revenue to charities that work to protect the environment. The hotel has an electric BMW i3s to chauffeur guests around (at an extra cost), and if you’ve brought your own electric car, there are two charging points. Château Smith Haut Lafitte recycles gases produced in the fermentation process, promotes biodiversity in their vineyard’s ecosystem and they only use horses to plough the land – wine with heart.
On a sunny day, sit out on La Grand'Vigne’s terrace overlooking the hotel’s lake and picturesque grounds. In the evening, take a table by the window to watch the sun set over the vineyards.
Embody effortless elegance at La Grand'Vigne; save your jeans and checked-shirts for La Table du Lavoir.
The hotel has three restaurants; head to the two-Michelin-star-awarded La Grand’Vigne for a sophisticated fine-dining experience, wine-infused Rouge for brunches and sharing plates, and La Table du Lavoir for a more relaxed – yet still exceptional – meal. Set in an orangery overlooking the lake on one side and vegetable garden on the other, La Grand’Vigne is run by world-renowned chef Nicolas Masse. He’s befriended local fishermen, farmers and the hotel’s gardener (who tends to a plot next door), to ensure he always gets the tastiest ingredients for his seasonal menus. Can’t choose between lamb or lobster? Ask restaurant manager Pierre Couturier for his picks from the à la carte. To experience Masse at his culinary best, order the tasting menu, which features traditional French fare and his own unique creations; of course, this should be accompanied by head sommelier, Aurélien Farrouil’s wine pairings. The smell of meat roasting on the huge period fireplace will be sure to draw you into La Table du Lavoir. From the vintage gingham tablecloths to the braised beef stew with duck liver, vegetables and pickles, this easygoing, bistro-style restaurant has a real farm-to-table feel. Take your time browsing the seasonal menu, written on antique laundry beaters (a reference to the building’s past as a wash-house for local winegrower’s wives): choosing between French favourites such as roasted duck breast and grilled sea bream and fennel-stuffed conchiglioni or tomato confit is très difficile. The Rouge wine bar tasting room is lined with bottles and crates from across Bordeaux and the southwest. Take a seat around the sleek, custom-built bar and get (well) acquainted with Bordeaux’s finest while tucking into foie gras and Iberian hams, or book in for a decadent poolside brunch.
More traditional in style, the French Paradox bar is decorated with classical artworks and antiques, and has deep leather armchairs to sink into while sampling armagnacs, cognacs and whiskies from the dark-wood bar. Our favourite bit is its direct access to a wine cellar where 1,200 bottles are stored – a small fraction of Les Sources de Caudalie’s 16,000-bottle cellar. Head sommelier Aurélien Farrouil knows every nook and cranny of the cellar and has selected his favourite 16 reds and whites for the bar.
La Grand'Vigne serves breakfast from 7.30am till 10.30am. Lunch at both restaurants is, from noon to 2pm, and dinner from 7pm to 10pm. Rouge opens from 10am till 10pm (6pm in low season), and the French Paradox bar is open 9am till midnight.
In the main hotel, have a baker’s basket breakfast brought to your room between 7.30am and noon. Snacks are available all day, and meals from the restaurant 12.15pm–1.45pm and 7.15pm–9.45pm. (There's no room service at Le Château du Thil.)
Les Sources de Caudalie is located just outside of Bordeaux, among the vineyards and rolling green pastures of Martillac.
Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport is a 30-minute drive from the hotel. Fly direct from across the UK and Europe, or connect in Paris or London if travelling from further afield. Call Smith24 to arrange your flights; they'll happily arrange transfers – €98 each way for up to three guests – too.
The closest train station is Bordeaux-Saint-Jean. Paris, Toulouse and Biarritz are just over two hours away by train. Call our Smith24 team of travel experts to book your tickets and arrange a transfer from the station to the hotel.
You’ll need a car to explore beyond the hotel; our Smith24 team can organise a rental for you to pick up at the airport. However, if you just plan to tour Bordeaux's magnificent monuments and markets, you can borrow their electric BMW i3 for €100 a day. The hotel has free on-site valet parking.
If you happen to have your own helicopter handy, land it on one of the hotel’s two helipads.
Worth getting out of bed for
You’ll never be at a loss for things to do in the hotel. Explore the surrounding countryside on one of the hotel’s bikes, or for something a little less energetic, take in the views on a private horse-and-carriage ride around the winery. Art lovers can appreciate the hotel’s sculpture collection on a guided tour of the estate. There’s a tennis court a few 100 metres away and the hotel has rackets and balls you can borrow for a friendly match or lesson with their coach, Julien. Learn to cook with panache – or at least try to – in a class with chef Nicolas Masse; he passes on his passion for fine dining two Saturday mornings a month. Pair this with a wine tasting in Rouge: the uninitiated can book a lesson with head sommelier, Aurélien Farrouil and learn the ABC of aligotés, barolos and cabernets. Take a tour of Château Smith Haut Lafitte winery next door, or another nearby vineyard – Bordeaux’s finest are less than an hour’s drive away and La Cité du Vin hosts talks, tours and tastings alongside their permanent wine-themed exhibitions. The teetering Gothic towers and grand Neo-classical squares of Bordeaux are just 30 minutes away. Break up trips to the Musée des Beaux-Arts and CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art with cups of coffee and copious cannelés in riverside cafes. La Dune du Pilat in Arcachon Bay are just an hour away by car; it’s a long way to the top of Europe’s tallest sand dunes, but the view is worth the climb. Board the Caudalie (the hotel’s boat) and explore the area from the Atlantic on a day trip to the Île aux Oiseaux’s cabanes tchanquées (wooden houses on stilts), Banc d’Arguin National Park and the Cap Ferret peninsula.
There’s something soporific about watching the sun glisten over the Garonne River, particularly when accompanied by a bottle of wine at Café du Port. This modern riverside restaurant serves French cuisine with postcard-worthy vistas of the old city. A meal at L'Oiseau Bleu is a fine-dining affair to remember. Put your faith in chefs Sophie and Frédéric and dine on their seven-course Menu Confiance; there’s an à la carte, too. Set in the centre of the Place de la Bourse, you’ll have no problem finding elegant eatery Restaurant Le Gabriel. The grand 19th-century façade sets your expectations for what’s within – high ceilings, elegant furnishings and extravagant crystal chandeliers. The food doesn’t disappoint either; chef Nicolas Frion offers a modern take on traditional French fare, with a couple of exotic flavours thrown into the cooking pot too. Enjoy the likes of hake with hazelnut butter, confit beef-cheek stuffed with foie gras, peach melba with hibiscus and a cheese course – of course. If you haven't had your fill of fromage, you can have it for each course in Baud et Millet's vaulted dining room. Try cream of aged mimolette with scallops to start, Fourme d'Ambert with smoked salmon and pear purée for a main and cheesecake with citron cream for dessert; and, if you're not too feeling too cheesy, pick up a few blocks to nibble on in the deli.
Step into the Belle Époque at Café du Levant for one of Bordeaux’s famous oyster dishes. Opened in 1896, the brasserie is filled with rich-red velvet banquettes and dining chairs, gold-and-glass chandeliers, dark wood furniture and early-1900s posters advertising the tipple du jour. Le Café Populaire is brimming with character – from it’s disco ball and feather-boa-lined ceiling to its wooden floors. Sharing is caring at this tapas bar, so order plenty of gambas risotto, duck breast and beef carpaccio for the whole table: the tables are pretty close together so expect to rub elbows with Bordeaux’s best. Head to La Tupina for real traditional sud-ouest cuisine. Dine on foie gras, duck-wing confit, or whatever’s on the day’s menu, around a roaring fire. With knick-knacks on the shelves, bunches of garlic bulbs hanging from the ceiling and a large open kitchen that looks like it hasn’t been changed since the early 20th century, dining here is like having a home meal – just without the in-laws.
The wine-stacked shelves of Brasserie Bordelaise carry more than 700 different types of vin. Sampling the whole cellar may be going a bit far, but you can certainly make a dent in the list while nibbling on oysters, caviar and Blondes d’Aquitaine and Noir de Bigorre ham. For unbeatable views over the city, head to Mama Shelter’s rooftop bar: the towering steeples of Bordeaux Cathedral are so close it feels like you could reach out and touch them – but don’t. If the view doesn’t impress you, the foosball tables, inflatable-ring-lined bar and drinks list of classic and innovative cocktails, will. Let the bartenders of L'Alchimiste work their magic on a gin-infused Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil cocktail, or A Birdie Told Me tipple (made with Calle 23 tequila silver, Rabarbaro Zucca, salted caramel, lime and spices), while you settle into one of the gold-hued sofas and armchairs. With low lighting, rickety wooden shelves and even a couple of crucifixes hanging from the stone walls, the interior well befits an alchemist’s hangout.
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 luxury spa and wine retreat in France and restocked their wine cellars and unpacked their Caudalie bath products, a full account of their countryside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux…
When it comes to cru, luxury hotel Les Sources de Caudalie is a real multi-tasker; here, you can taste, dine, and enjoy spa treatments with barrels full of Bordeaux’s best. This is the home of spa brand Caudalie, whose fragrant lotions and potions harness the best bits of grapes and vines to keep skin supple and youthful, proving that a glass while away keeps the (cosmetic) doctor away. Speaking of glasses… After a relaxing massage or nourishing facial, get a taste for Château Smith Haut Lafitte’s wines at a tasting in the Rouge bar, followed by a selection of two-Michelin-star-earning dishes in La Grand’Vigne restaurant. Aside from neat row upon row of vines, the gardens are home to a sculpture collection, two pools, a tennis court and even a couple of grazing goats. What’s the source of these natural wonders we hear you ask? Their deep-rooted success lies 540 metres below the earth in a natural hot spring.