Luberon Luxury at la Bastide de Gordes
How do you test a hotel’s 5-star rating?
Forget about checking for dust on picture frames — deliver a thunderstorm in the middle of a meal service.
L’Orangerie’s terrace was brimming with lunchtime customers enjoying their market-fresh plats du jour and local rosés when the typically far-reaching view of the Luberon vanished behind a curtain of rain. As clients tripped over each other to take shelter in the dining room, the restaurant staff were unflappable in their table service as place settings and meal orders were shuffled like a deck of cards.
La Bastide de Gordes is a 40 room luxury hotel (34 rooms and six suites) the result of a long-term real estate amalgamation project. The original hotel opened its doors in 1980 with only 12 rooms in what was once the 16th century home of an aristocratic family. Slowly adjacent buildings were purchased to add guest rooms, restaurants, a spa and a conference centre. This sublime hotel property is crazy glued to a rock face and built on the stone foundations of ancient ramparts, which once protected the medieval town of Gordes.
Gordes is a hilltop town where sand-hued rock walls are expertly stacked without mortar, is considered one of les Plus Beaux Villages de France, making it practically a required pilgrimage stop for anyone who wants to say they have “been to Provence.” The name Gordes originates from the Celtic word Vordense, pronounced as Gordenses and eventually altered through ages to the current iteration. From the Celts to the Roman to the Middle Ages — plagued by invading forces and disease — Gordes was certainly not a boring place to live. You can read more about Gordes here.
La Bastide de Gordes reopened on June 24, 2015, after an 8-month renovation involving 150 construction workers and a design team with an 18th-century vision. Some €20 million later the hotel has renewed finishes and additional reception space to accommodate wedding parties of up to 120 guests.
For all its beauty Gordes can also be a summer traffic jamb of illegally parked cars and camera-toting tourists snapping selfies of this village perché. We walked into the elegant lobby at la Bastide de Gordes and immediately understood why it is like entering “the private home of a grandmother from Provence.” One could easily argue that there are few properties in the village with better views than the Bastide de Gordes. We thought that the expansive vista from the 25-seat gastronomic restaurant Pièr by Pierre Gagnaire was jaw dropping until we toured one of the suites on the top floor of the hotel.
Each hotel room and suite is unique, decorated in keeping with an 18th-century aristocratic theme. The designers hunted for matchless pieces at auctions and antique houses in Paris, Italy and beyond to deliver furnishings and finishes to match the building’s gilded past. Patterned silk wall coverings, Venetian floor tiles, porcelain fixtures, period tapestries and desks suitable for noblemen are found throughout the hotel.
La Bastide de Gordes maybe thematically 18th-century, but certainly boasts 21st-century comforts; from its 800sqm spa with an indoor pool to the sun-kissed lap pool (25m) cantilevered to the cliff. The hotel is framed by a cascade of terraced gardens and private green spaces crafted for quiet relaxation. In high-season, visitors from all parts of the globe can be found lounging by one of the four pools (one is part of the private villa la Maison de Constance) or enjoying an aperitif as the sun sets casting the rest of Provence in a pink glow.
There are three restaurants at the hotel. L’Orangerie offers lunch under the shade of mulberry trees (when it’s not raining). I ordered a salad Nicoise that came with fresh anchovies and tiny grape tomatoes. My husband had a tuna steak grilled to a perfect rosé on a bed of finely diced ratatouille. At night Chef, Olivier Bouzon delivers gastronomic selections in la Citadelle either on a covered terrace or inside under an intimate arched stone ceiling. Reservations are imperative for a gastronomic experience at Pièr by Pierre Gagnaire with his sought after table d’hôte menu.
For most of us a night (or a meal) at la Bastide de Gordes might be as close to living in a castle as we will ever get. Full contact details for the hotel can be found here.
Photo Credits: All images were provided by and published with the permission of la Bastide de Gordes