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Hotel Crillon Le Brave, Provence
May 5, 2015
There are few places that live up to the promise of a relaxing luxury vacation away from the tedium and mundanity of commuting London. There are fewer still that completely and utterly obliterate any expectation, dream or hope of this fantasy in favour of a reality which is oh so much better. Hotel Crillon Le Brave is one such rare gem.
Nestled away at the foot of Mont Ventoux, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, lies a gorgeously scenic village lost in time and shaped in limestone sourced from local quarries. In this tiny little village sits Hotel Crillon Le Brave – a boutique hotel twenty-five years in the making, which has grown from identifying as one large country house to encompassing eight more buildings (some as old as the 13th century) containing a total of 36 rooms, within its own little hamlet community.
Owner, Peter Chittick, describes how he got the idea to open a hotel whilst at Law School. His particularity and eye for detail is evident as he speaks about the 20 or so properties that he and his then-girlfriend, now wife looked at before coming across the one in which we are currently quaffing Rosé in (Read our interview with Peter here). What is clear as he shows us around the impressive array of buildings, introducing us to the Vincent – the Head Gardener who is planting Cyprus trees by the new spa – and Lambert – the main contractor who, along with his grandfather and father, have done all of the building work at the hotel, including overseeing the three incredibly expansive new suites and the spa they sit on top of which are opening in May – is that the hotel is truly a labour of love. There seems to be no aspect of it that Peter is not aware of and no person working on it that he doesn’t know.
This passion is reflected in the faultlessly charming General Manager, Sebastien Pilat, his effervescent team member, Iris Le Gars, and the fantastically “French” sommelier Benoit Leitbus. Each one of them can regale you with stories about the old owners of the buildings making up the hotel, the odd quirks of winemakers (some who refuse to allow you into their cellar if you’ve had a shower in the past week or are wearing perfume), and anything you may need to know about the region, the hotel, or the suppliers of the food.
The hotel boasts three dining choices: Restaurant Jérôme Blanchet, the main and most romantic choice, housed in a stunning stone vaulted dining room; Bistrot 40k, open in the evening and serving rustic food and wine all produced within 40km of Crillon Le Brave village; and finally, the daytime Le Grange, a glass-fronted modern affair with sweeping terrace covered in wisteria, overlooking the shining turquoise pool of the hotel, and the vineyards and olive groves of Provence beyond.
Bikes are provided to all guests wishing to explore the plethora of delightful villages that the region is made up of and we highly recommend taking them for a spin. Other activities on offer include wine tastings led by the hotel’s excellent sommelier, cheese tastings from the sweetest and most delightful lady, Claudine Vigier (whose story of finding love over cheese will make you believe in Fate and whose passion for her products is utterly contagious), and truffle hunting (November – March).
However, do not feel guilty about staying in the hotel, lounging by the pool and soaking up the sun, or ducking into the sweet little spa for a massage. The atmosphere and character of the place wills you to do as little as possible in the best kind of way.
The rooms are beyond spacious, each furnished with beds big enough for even the most vertically gifted to lie horizontally on – you know, just because you’re on holiday and you can – luxurious bathrooms equipped with large, high-pressure showers, baths begging for bubbles and a glass of wine; L’Occitane products; a Bose Wave system with Hotel Crillon Le Brave’s very own complimentary 25th anniversary CD; a mini-bar stocked with local beverages, including the hotel’s own rosé; and every other comfort and luxury you would ever need. The best part of these light and chicly decorated rooms however is the breath-taking views every single room affords. We can guarantee that once you drag yourself out of your lavish bed in the morning and open the curtains to greet Mont Ventoux and the rolling fields beneath it, it will be a concerted effort to ever leave this place.
All in all, we cannot recommend Hotel Crillon Le Brave highly enough. It is the perfect couple’s retreat, oozing romance in a dreamy landscape with a coveted climate (barring the Mistral wind). We guarantee that you will feel utterly spoilt by the incomparable service, the warm hospitality, lush accommodation and epic quiet charisma of the region.
Vicky Ilankovan – Lifestyle Editor