If you want a luxury experience on your next vacation in France, stay in a chateau hotel. It’s the perfect way to take your trip to the next level.
Hotels come in many shapes and sizes, from capsule hotels to all-inclusive resorts. For those who want to live like European nobility while traveling, a chateau hotel is the perfect fit. These luxurious residences are historic and elegant, creating a memorable way to enjoy your next trip to France.
What is a chateau hotel?
The term “chateau” is an Anglicization of a French word. Most literally, the usage of this term translates to a country house or castle, but the French term is far looser in its definition. In French, a chateau can refer to anything from a medieval fortress to a 19th-century manor house in the countryside, but the English term is more closely interpreted to indicate palatial manor homes. In some cases, the French word for palace, palais, is more appropriate, but chateau has become a catch-all term in English for the stately homes that dot the countryside of France. Many of these homes are several hundred years old and are handed down from generation to generation.
A chateau hotel is a hotel located within a historic chateau. These hotels are most commonly manor homes that once housed nobility and wealthy landowners. These beautiful buildings are then transformed into hotels, with each room in the manor serving as a place for guests to stay.
How does a chateau hotel differ from a standard hotel?
Chateau hotels have several distinct differences from standard hotels.
Most normal hotels are constructed as such – they are built with the purpose to house as many guests as possible in comfortable rooms with adjoining bathrooms and amenities such as restaurants, fitness facilities, and swimming pools all on-site.
Chateau hotels, on the other hand, were not originally built as a mass temporary residence for tourists and visitors. Instead, they were built as single-family homes, generally for nobility, and meant to accommodate a life of luxury. Within these chateaus, French nobility, royal family members, or members of the high-bourgeois and their service staff, were guaranteed a comfortable life.
Most traditional chateaus are rather isolated and self-sufficient, as the lands surrounding them were originally used for farming. Some chateaus are accompanied by outbuildings that once housed services like bakers and blacksmiths. Most chateaus are also gated in some way, a relic of the protections these homes required in feudal Europe.
The rooms in most hotels are more or less alike, even in spite of differences in size and price. The furniture and decor are largely the same, creating unity and uniformity. This is especially true in hotel chains, in which guests can find similar rooms across institutions around the world. Chateaus, on the other hand, are all completely distinct from one another. Rooms may vary greatly within the same chateau, with unique amenities, room sizes, and furniture across each suite.
Ownership in chateau hotels can vary as well. In some cases, the home’s owners still live on the property and are actively involved in the hotel’s management, including cooking and event organization. Many families have passed these chateaus down through the generations, leading to pride in ownership that isn’t generally seen in a standard hotel facility. As with boutique hotels, most chateaus only offer around a dozen rooms, creating an intimate experience that generally isn’t available in larger modern hotels.
This dichotomy in construction and purpose provides a difference in accommodations and what can be offered for visitors. In many ways, this is part of the appeal: guests who want a taste of what it meant to live as nobility can do so across the many of the chateau hotels in France.
The best chateau hotels in France
Staying in a chateau in France can be a wonderful way to see the country, providing an authentic experience a standard hotel can’t match. These are the best chateau hotels in France to stay at on your next vacation.
Explore a historical province
An estate in the French province of Anjou, Château des Briottières is a beautiful chateau that dates back to the 18th-century. The property has passed down through six generations, and the current owners still call the chateau their home. The1990s film “Impromptu” was filmed here, with star Emma Thompson staying in the chateau’s Pink Room.
In addition to housing the friendly owners, the hotel has 15 guest suites that function as independent apartments; 10 in the main chateau and an additional five rooms in the Fruitier, a secondary building in the former orangery constructed in 1850. Each room is completely unique, filled with antique furniture, delicate furnishings, and adjoining bathroom suites.
Perhaps the largest drawcard to Château des Briottières is the dining within the hotel. Dinner is the estate’s piece de resistance. Featuring a different menu nightly based on regional cuisine, diners can enjoy a delectable meal by candlelight in the home’s original dining room, filled with 18th-century furniture. Dinner starts with an aperitif in either the drawing-room or on the terrace under the pergola, followed by a full three-course meal. At the conclusion of the meal, guests can stay to enjoy tea or coffee in the drawing-room.
The location of this estate is perfect for visitors. Situated in the Loire Valley along the famed river, guests staying at the chateau can easily visit Brittany and Normandy to see some of the country’s most notable sites, from the location of D-Day in World War II to Brittany’s coral granite coastal landmark, the Grand Site Naturel de Ploumanac’h.
Relax in idyllic Burgundy near the town of Nevers
Burgundy is a beloved region in France for its wines, serving as a popular destination for those who want to walk the rows of grapes in the region’s vineyards and taste some of the world’s best wine. When a luxury stay is a necessity, Chateau de Pyre in Firmness is an ideal spot.
The chateau has a long history, with its roots dating back to the 10th-century. The area was once home to the medieval fortress of Firmitius – the namesake of the town. The estate was destroyed during the French Revolution but was re-constructed in the 17th-century. Once the home of Polish nobility, this stately and sprawling manor home is now a luxury hotel that hosts guests between April and October annually.
With five double rooms and two cottage spaces, this comfortable hotel offers a historical experience for every visitor. From the original moat to the stone walls enclosing the property, guests will feel as though they have stepped back in time. Guests staying at the hotel can explore the 385 acres of manicured lawns, rolling hills, and wooded land across the estate, with activities including horseback riding and hunting. Meal service is also available.
The town of Nevers is just moments away, offering guests a look at the wonders of medieval France. From the Cathedrale Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte to the nearly 1,000-year-old Eglise Saint-Etienne, there’s lots of history to enjoy in this corner of Burgundy.
Stay in a chateau in beautiful Provence
Located in the beautiful Drôme Provençale region of France, Château les Oliviers de Salettes offers a peaceful respite for visitors. This sprawling estate set on 12 acres of beautifully manicured gardens, lawns, and woodlands is a one-of-a-kind place to stay.
Unlike many chateaus that have been within families for generations, this lovely property sat vacant and neglected for more than 50 years before a couple purchased the property in 2010 and turned it into a hotel. As a result, this chateau feels newer and more modern than many of its hotel counterparts, despite the use of period-appropriate furnishings.
The main house contains 16 rooms, all outfitted in a traditional style and incorporating the use of antique pieces wherever possible. Most rooms are doubles, but some of the larger rooms have a second floor and terrace access. An additional 12 rooms are available in the Bastide, a secondary structure just 25 yards from the main house. Rooms range in size from 18 to 150 square meters.
Unlike smaller boutique chateau hotels, this property boasts both an on-site restaurant and a relaxing spa. The restaurant is located in a stone vaulted dining room with a lovely fireplace with additional seating available on the outdoor terrace with panoramic views. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily, with prix fixe and a la carte menu options. The chateau spa is a stunning place to relax after a day of exploration in Provence. Patrons can take advantage of a full menu of spa treatments in facilities that include massage rooms, an outdoor Jacuzzi, a sauna, and a zen garden. This French chateau also contains a spacious outdoor pool with lounge seating for a little R&R in the sunshine.
Stay in a cave hotel in the Loire Valley
Caves aren’t usually associated with luxury, but France’s unique cave chateaus built into rocky areas of the countryside provide a completely distinctive experience. At Demeure de la Vignole, a cave chateau hotel in the Loire Valley, guests can take in the amazing opportunities this property yields.
Located in Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Nature Park in Turquant within the Loire Valley, this estate is built in a troglodyte village – an underground village constructed from stone or caves. This innovative construction strategy defines this estate: part 17th-century chateau and part cave dwelling. From the outside, much of the hotel looks like a standard chateau, with the exception of the elements of the facade carved into the rock itself.
The hotel features 11 suites with stone walls, authentic decor from the 1600s, and modern amenities for a true marriage of old and new. The experiences in the cavern area aren’t restricted to rooms, however; a heated pool is built into the rock, serving as the perfect place to relax after a long day. The chamber outside the pool, once the grape press room, is used as a space to exercise and relax.
When not exploring the caverns beneath the manor, guests can enjoy breakfast daily on the sunny terrace or go for a hike or bike ride in the national park. Numerous historical sites are within close proximity as well. In the town of Turquant, home to just 500 people, visitors can explore Les Pommes Tapées du Val de Loire, a historic destination for making a traditional snack, as well as the winery of Château d’Éternes.
A stay in a chateau in France is an experience unlike any other. From home-cooked dining to luxury spas within a historic stone space, staying in a chateau hotel provides modern amenities in a luxury residence once enjoyed by the French upper-class. With locations across the country, there’s always a wonderful country palace to stay in while traveling through France.
If you want to make sure your vacation is as luxurious as possible, be sure to book an exclusive Blacklane car service to take you to your French chateau hotel.