I will do my best to keep the hyperbole to sensible levels – but I can’t make any promises.
However, I challenge anyone to stay at the impossibly splendid La Bastide de Gordes hotel and spa in the impossibly beautiful village of Gordes in Provence’s Luberon region and not throw superlatives around like confetti when describing it.
So what is it about the property that prompts torrents of praise?
La Bastide de Gordes underwent a 33million-euro renovation in 2014, overseen by interior designer Christophe Tollemer. Pictured is the astonishing main outdoor pool
The plug points, for starters.
You see, the aesthetic of the hotel – housed in a stunning 16th-century white-stone building – is Renaissance chic and the look, overseen by interior designer Christophe Tollemer during a 33million-euro renovation in 2014, even extends to functional elements.
Nothing is hum-drum.
Sockets sit in ornate, circular porcelain holders; decorative little turnkey-style switches operate the bedroom lights and exquisite flowery wallpaper lines the insides of the lifts.
As you might have guessed, the hotel didn’t call it a day with elevating the mundane to higher standards – opulence abounds.
There are gigantic, plush sofas in the reception area and bar and richly upholstered restaurant chairs.
Gordes is a past winner of The Most Beautiful Villages of France award (Les plus beaux villages de France). La Bastide de Gordes hotel is the multi-tiered collection of buildings on the left-hand-side of this picture with multiple arches and a tower
Period furniture and artefacts sourced from prestigious antique dealers have been liberally dispersed throughout and over 2,000 paintings line the walls.
There’s also a full-size suit of armour and sword in one of the corridors, which is impressive, though my two-year-old daughter, bless her, was too scared to walk past it without holding my hand.
Each of the 34 bedrooms and six suites feature bespoke décor and furniture, I’m told.
Our boudoir was a delight.
I loved the bathroom with its rustic floor tiles, claw-foot tub and rain shower, the cosiness of the cream and deep-red colour scheme, and the dreamy king-size bed.
There are gigantic, plush sofas in the reception area and bar and richly upholstered restaurant chairs
Pictured here is perhaps the most enticing seating option at L’Orangerie restaurant
The layout of La Bastide de Gordes, meanwhile, is something to behold – verging on epic.
Built on 12th-century ramparts, the 10-floor hotel sits on the edge of Gordes, which is perched on a rocky hilltop at the end of the Plateau de Vaucluse above the verdant Luberon valley, and is made up of buildings of various dimensions joined together over several tiers.
It’s a wonderful place to get lost in.
On one of the lowest tiers is an outdoor pool that surely must rank as one of the most jaw-dropping in Europe.
It sits at one end of a long, manicured garden that soothes with elegant trees, topiary and a lush lawn. I noted how the poolside umbrellas sat in huge flower pots – so you don’t even have to contend with the stress of seeing the unsightly bases.
Every room in the hotel is exquisitely furnished. Pictured is a suite bathroom, complete with clawfoot bath
Dreamy: You’re never far away from a hung painting at La Bastide de Gordes
Ted writes: ‘Each of the 34 bedrooms and six suites feature bespoke décor and furniture’
On the tier above this we discovered a super little children’s pool and just above this the ‘children’s kingdom’ – a room stuffed with arcade games, games consoles, a pinball machine, a play kitchen for toddlers and a Toy Story-style toy machine with free prizes.
Delve further into this tier and you’ll find the entrance to the heavenly Sisley Spa, a sanctuary of pampering where you can enjoy a heated swimming pool, a hammam, sensory showers and massages.
At street-level are the crucial drinking and dining facilities, all of which have terraces.
We savoured a magical moment on the bar terrace watching the sun set behind the hills with a brace of local rosés, though the rustic vibe was under constant threat from dance music dispersed across the setting by a DJ – a rare misstep.
Period furniture and artefacts sourced from prestigious antique dealers have been liberally dispersed throughout and over 2,000 paintings line the walls
Ted had dinner at La Citadelle restaurant, pictured, dining on mouthwatering racks of lamb and foie gras
La Citadelle, pictured, is where breakfast is served. Stacks of faultless croissants and pain au chocolat feature
Once the Luberon valley had been bathed in darkness we headed inside to try out the hotel’s newest restaurant – Clover Gordes, a recently opened eatery by two-Michelin-star Chef Jean-François Piège.
The concept? French fare, more or less, cooked using local seasonal produce. The standard? Very high (along with some of the prices). My 36-euro prime Angus flank steak was superbly succulent and perfectly cooked and the wine, a 15-euro glass of Luberon rouge, was excellent.
If you want to splash out, you could opt for a 62-euro ‘fish from the Mediterranean sea’ or 90-euro lobster. At the other end of the price scale is wild squid carbonara, at 26 euros, which my partner’s father happily devoured.
We also had dinner at La Citadelle restaurant, dining on mouthwatering racks of lamb and foie gras.
The hotel has ‘a super little children’s pool’ (pictured) and a ‘children’s kingdom’ – ‘a room stuffed with arcade games, games consoles, a pinball machine, a play kitchen for toddlers and a Toy Story-style toy machine with free prizes’
The hotel’s Sisley Spa, pictured, is ‘a sanctuary of pampering where you can enjoy a heated swimming pool, a hammam, sensory showers and massages’
Ted savoured a magical moment on the bar terrace, pictured, watching the sun set behind the hills with a brace of local rosés
This is also where breakfast is served – and what a spread.
Obviously, there are stacks of faultless croissants and pain au chocolat, but the smorgasbord also comprises tarts, flans, cupcakes and self-service scrambled egg that tastes fresh and creamy (a rare thing for self-service hotel scrambled egg).
The hotel has five dining options in total. There are two we didn’t try – the in-house L’Orangerie (the Sunday brunch is apparently the thing there) and the Thai-focussed Le TIGrr (their caps) in the village. But we did tick off a third – La Bastide de Pierres, a trattoria just 70 yards from the front door that specialises in superb value Italian fodder.
The hotel has five dining options in total, including La Bastide de Pierres, pictured, a trattoria just 70 yards from the front door that specialises in ‘superb value Italian fodder’
We had two lunches there and worked our way through fresh salads, delicious raviolis a la truffle with sage butter sauce and astonishing chocolate sundae-style desserts.
And even when the place was packed, the service was brilliant – efficient, chatty, professional.
Just as it was everywhere else in the hotel.
Even with my most cynical, pedantic hat on, I would struggle to find fault.
The staff are warm, caring and polite, but not in an obsequious manner. You’re fussed over, but not in a way that makes you feel like you’re being fussed over.
Built on 12th-century ramparts, the 10-floor hotel sits on the edge of Gordes, which is perched on a rocky hilltop at the end of the Plateau de Vaucluse above the verdant Luberon valley
Ted’s toddler daughter wasn’t quite sure whether she liked the suit of armour in the corridor
Having said all that, I’d happily return to the hotel over and over again even if the service was awful, the food rubbish and the rooms bereft of finery – because the views and the location are frankly jaw-dropping.
The hotel’s elevated edge-of-the-village position means that eye-popping views of the Luberon valley are available from every tier and terrace and from most of the rooms.
The only downside is having to contain the urge to take pictures every other second.
The same problem arises while exploring medieval Gordes, a village that’s so good-looking – it’s a past winner of The Most beautiful Villages in France award – most visitors wander around it in a kind of happy stupor.
So what’s the conclusion? Unleash the hyperbole.
La Bastide de Gordes was awarded France’s ultra-prestigious ‘palace’ rating in 2016 – and it’s fully deserved.
This is a seriously sumptuous and refined retreat in one of the most picturesque locations in France. Hopefully, I’ll see you on the bar terrace. Mine’s a rosé…
Ted was hosted by La Bastide de Gordes, part of the Airelles group of hotels, where stays start from 320 euros (approx £285) per night. Visit gordes.airelles.com/home.
Rating key: one star – poor; two stars – OK; three stars – good; four stars – very good; five stars – exceptional.
Fares start at £49 one-way for services to Avignon TGV (a 50min drive from La Bastide de Gordes) from London St Pancras International, with up to four services a week, depending on the time of year. Journey time from London is 5hrs 49mins. For more information or to book, visit www.eurostar.com or call 03432 186 186.
The current lead in price for a week’s car hire in Avignon is £101.26, picking up from the train station, with a long weekend (Friday-Monday) starting from £69.55 via www.rentalcars.com.