Sometime between visiting London, Christmas in Whalley and helping my parents-in-law move out of their home of 20 years in Chesham, we managed to fit three days in to visit my favourite city of all time. Three swift but sweet, sweet days.
Bordeaux is special to me for several reasons – the main one being that it is the city that homed me for the summer six years ago, when I was old enough to make a life that I loved but too young to know where I was heading next. It was the time that I decided Bordeaux was worth returning to, and six years later there was a mounting confusion growing in me as to how this time could have passed by so quickly.
In this contemplative state we arrived at Hôtel des Quinconces, the 5-star boutique hotel in which we would spend this brief time in the city.
It is the distinctive atmosphere, both modern yet traditional, that makes Hotel des Quinconces earn its five stars. One can probably travel for years without stumbling upon a hotel that offers such a combination of high-level luxury and low-key comfort, all while in an urban setting. With a personal greeting from its owner, Madame Wang, you will be serviced by a group of staff that you will get to know by name within a couple of days.
The hotel lies on the land of the former Château Trompette, built in 1454 and destroyed in 1818. After the castle’s destruction, a house was built in 1832 with Jean-Baptiste de Mégret de Belligny as its first owner and occupant, a former slave owner with a plantation in Cuba who had decided to move back to France to start a new life. Over the years, the house was owned by various local merchants, until became the US Consulate between 1981 and 1993. As a modern hotel, it has kept some of the consulate’s unique features, such as the paper chute leading to the basement and the steel doors, which are specific features of the Noyer (Walnut) room.
Each of Hôtel des Quinconces’ 9 rooms is named after a type of wood and has particular features reflecting its history or use. From its bright, airy space to its feather lampshade and stunning bathroom finishing, room Érable is the kind of a place you talk about for years. It is a homebody’s dream – a tapestry of cool shades, handpicked for the reason that they make you feel at home and ready to unwind. It is appropriate then, that the first thing I did was throw on a bathrobe and test out the mattress.
Peering out into the garden, it is clear that guests value the hotel for its privacy and tranquil environment. Unless somebody told you that you were in the heart of the city, you wouldn’t know it. After a few days in the city, you develop a sense of longing that calls you back home to room Érable, and somehow you will feel its presence as you climb the winding staircase in vivid anticipation..
One of things I have missed most about France is its astonishing taste in gourmet breakfasts. It is the focus on sweet flavours such as fruit bowls, fresh juices, macarons, gourmet pastries, tartines, yogurts, and sometimes even cakes that allures me. It’s a fine way to start the morning, especially knowing that these sweet delights have been prepared by local artisans, specialty chefs and pastry masters. This certainly adds a chic touch to the culture of the hotel. It is one of those simple treats in life, to know that every bite of food is locally sourced and crafted.
The Smallest Living Room in Bordeaux
For socially-minded guests, the Xanadu lounge is the perfect spot to mingle and enjoy art installations while enjoying a stunning view of the garden. The garden is home to an array of beautiful plants, and even a 35-year old Bonsai tree. Enjoying art in a comfortable setting is a commonality of the rooms and the garden – creativity vividly dominates the space and walls.
The same reverence for art can be felt in the ‘’Smallest Living Room in Bordeaux’’, a peaceful nook at the end of the garden that is dedicated to reading and enjoying art. Available to guests of the hotel, there is a constant rotation of art on display. It feels as though the room is constantly redefining and reinventing itself. In the evenings especially, when you are surrounded by the trees twinkling in the shimmer of the garden lights, you will feel that you have made the place your own. By the flicker of a hand, a café allongé can be ordered to the room, making for a long and comfortable evening in the company of a good book.
Exception Room: Jatoba
Aside from its Dream Rooms, Hôtel des Quinconces also offers 2 Exception Rooms that allow more space, flexibility and enchanting history.
In many ways, the Jatoba room reminds me of the Érable room with its cool and soft accents – a wide and comfortable space, as sweet as it is bold. A sweeping view over the Cours du Maréchal Foch has me asking how Bordeaux can remain such an understated city, but for many voyagers it is what keeps them coming back. Bordeaux is a gem that you can keep to yourself over and over again. After the sun has set, a peek out of the window will reveal a city sparkling against the night sky.
There is a point at which one comes to terms with the fact that time passes by, but some pieces of the world remain just as they have always been. With a closing of the eyes, the sounds of trams and whimsical French chit-chat allow you to bask in this exotic, implausible destination. These experiences have had me counting the days until my return for the past six years, but for some, they represent just another day in this pearl on the Garonne River.
What a pleasure it was to stay at Hôtel des Quinconces – with its phenomenal team that I could not be happier to have got to know. For a luxury stay in Bordeaux, I recommend no other than this gem.
Bordeaux is worth it – even just for three days.
*Thank you to Hôtel des Quinconces for inviting us as guests. All opinions are my own.*
For more information about Hôtel des Quinconces, you can visit their sites:
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