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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

Castle-chic has never been more stunning than at the Château de Bagnols hotel, a breath-taking combination of frescoes, pine and honey-coloured stone in the wine-hued heart of France's Beaujolais region. Enjoy cooking classes, wine-tastings and feasts fit for a king in a story-book stronghold complete with its own moat and drawbridge.

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

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at Château de Bagnols

5 nights for the price of 4

Facilities

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Château de Bagnols - Beaujolais - France

Need To Know

Rooms

21, including eight junior suites, four suites and one apartment.

Check–out

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

Rates

Double rooms from $671.20 (€509), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast, from €32.

Also

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

Hotel closed

23 November 2013 to 21 April 2014.

At the hotel

Heated outdoor pool in summer, 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 (Room 8). The room was once part of the chapel where its namesake wed in 1609. Deluxe room Les Seigneurs d’Albon (Room 1) has a circular bathroom in the tower.

Poolside

Heated outdoor pool in summer.

Packing tips

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

Also

Book a body treatment in your room; hairdressing can also be organised. Small dogs can be accommodated. Smoking is allowed in some rooms.

Children

Extra beds (free for under-15s) are available in some rooms. Cribs, 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 & Drink

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Château de Bagnols - Beaujolais - France

Hotel Restaurant

La Salle des Gardes serves modern French cuisine, as well as traditional dishes and spit-roasted meats and game, in the former guards’ room and on the south-facing terrace.

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. Lunch is served 12.30pm to 1.30pm; dinner, 7.30–9.45pm.

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

Anonymous review

by Ilse Crawford , Design doyenne at Studioilse

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

Reviews of Château de Bagnols from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

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

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Chateau Bagnols managed to provide that feeling of real luxury in a wonderful historic context which it hasn't over modernised. Simply put it was a total treat to be there. We are very fussy and we appreciated every detail. It couldn't have been more perfect. Thank you Mr & Mrs Smith for your outstanding curation and for finding this gem.

Don’t expect

A longer stay! We just loved this place and couldn't fault a thing.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

From our arrival at the hotel until our taxi drove us away (with a member of staff in hot pursuit to give us a packed lunch for our onward journey) we felt totally and utterly pandered to. Unfortunately we had to shorten our trip at the last minute and couldn't stay for one of the nights we were paying for, but the hotel upgraded us to a suite – they really didn't have to but it was a very thoughtful and gratefully received gesture. The grounds of the hotel during the day, with their verdant hills backdrop, are just stunning and at night the dramatic lighting transforms them into something spectacularly gothic. The food was exceptional, wine incredible and we left with very happy, if a little expanded, tummies.

Don’t expect

The only thing we would have changed was the pair of courting wood pigeons who decided that our window sill would be the ideal place for ther displays of affection; my husband had a fairly sleepless night as a result. Of course this is beyond the control of the hotel but perhaps a fan or air conditioning would be a good addition so that you don't have to open the windows and listen to the local wildlife's mating rituals.

Rating: 10/10 stars