It’s a bit cruel really, to tell you about a place you can’t visit until next year because it’s closed for winter, but if I didn’t, you’d have only seen it on Instagram, splashed around as one of those You Really Must Come Here kind of places. I’m not sure that’s what La Bastide – a quietly luxurious and demure hotel – had in mind, but such is the spell that it casts.
It sits on the edge of Gordes, a devastatingly pretty, tiered village in Provence, that's full of terracotta rooftops, church towers and blue shutters. Happily, a late-summer trip meant it wasn’t teeming with tourists. Neither was the nearby – and very beautiful – Sénanque Abbey which, in July, I can imagine hums with the question: “can you take a picture of me, please?” as Instagrammers breathe in by its lavender fields – and no, not for the aromatherapy.
But back to the hotel, which nestled into the cliffside, offers a view from every terrace and tier. Built in the 16th century, in 2014 it underwent a 33 million euro renovation, which seamlessly blended old and new. Verdant gardens sit next to a corridor of cloister arches, through which you can access the standout Sisley spa. Inside is all wood panelled and filled with antiques, including a full-size suit of armour. The lifts are lined with floral wallpaper and every light switch and socket is ceramic. (Sounds like a niche thing to pick out, I know, but I defy anyone not to think positive thoughts upon seeing one). There are 18th century portraits of pompous men and dour-faced women that start on the stairs and carry on to the bedrooms. Ours was romantic, regal and lined with books. Through thick paisley curtains, the view of the Luberon valley brought my shoulders down from around my ears (though that could have been the wine). There was a TV hidden in the mirror (not that we switched it on), a shower that you could do at least three walking lunges in, and a stone terrace, perfect for gulping, yes, the aforementioned wine.
For the four hours that the sun shone, we lolled around the most Instagram-famous pool in Europe, admiring the vertiginous Cypress trees, ensconced in total peace and quiet. It rained for the remainder of our trip, but I’ll forgive any weather that allows me to sit fireside in a library bar with with olives, breadsticks and a book.
That brings me onto the food. Oh, the food! Breakfast – three courses – started with miniature cubes of perfect fruit salad, followed by poached eggs, then two to three mini croissants or, oh who am I kidding and, a slice of fig tart – slender, I might add. On an evening, the vaulted room – with its giant terrace and galloping views – turns into one of the hotel’s five restaurants: the authentic La Citadelle, where we ate the most delicious and delicate sole meunière. Poles apart but no less lip-smacking was La Bastide de Pierres, the hotel’s uber laidback trattoria up the road, where the staff are smiley staff and the food is unstuffy. We sat on the covered veranda, rain pouring down, gorging on elastic lobster linguine and champagne. It was so romantic, my best friend and I were like Lady and The Tramp, inching closer across the table to affirm our love not only for each other but also fresh pasta.
The staff were charming, dressed head-to-toe in Provençal garb. For women, thick skirts, flowery vests and corset-like bodies, and for men, bloomers and a boater, or something like that. Their pristine silk masks made our standard-issue blue ones feel a bit gross. Too medical for somewhere this magical. Thankfully, two of theirs were left in our room that evening, probably by someone muttering something about the tremendously unchic British.
When it was time to go, a member of staff put our cases in the boot of our car, started the engine and escorted us to it under the safety of a brolly. I wanted to tell them they’d got it wrong, and that we were staying an extra two nights, but before I knew it we were back in Heathrow where the rain was even more sideways, and the masks, bluer than blue. I got home and also posted about it on Instagram, assuring every person that deposited the heart eye emoji in my inbox, that this is the real deal.
Rates start from €520 per night for a Classic Village Room based on the new inclusive rate concept which includes breakfast, in-room honesty bar with soft drinks, non-alcoholic refreshments by the pool, car washing, laundry, e-bike rental and vintage Citroën 2CV car hire to explore the local area. BOOK HERE