Nestled deep in the valleys of southern France’s Grand Luberon - just over an hour from Marseille - Domaine du Castellas is rustic chic at its very finest. A huge 18th century carved stone farmhouse, the property has been meticulously restored and tastefully transformed into a stylish and eclectic retreat, providing the ultimate escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Situated on over 100 hectares, exclusively reserved for guests and the farm’s resident wild goat, chicken and bee population, the spectacular panorama extends from the Alps to the Ardèche - reconnecting with nature never felt so good.
What’s on offer?
Ten roomy suites – spanning 40 to 75sq metres in size - retain their original features, with wood beams and dark wood floors reminding guests of the property’s heritage. In contrast, the décor is modern and minimalist, dotted with antique objects picked up on the owner’s travels. Our suite boasted an Ibiza-style raffia chaise longue on an enclosed terrace overlooking the hills beyond, an exceptionally comfortable king-size bed with pure linen sheets, natural rattan rugs and light shades; a simple wooden table and stool; and cushions strewn on a linen sofa. So far, so chic.
There’s a curated collection of French books in each room; African tribal artworks pop out against the creamy plastered walls. Refreshingly, there are no in-room TVs, allowing the Alpy view to be all the entertainment you need. Simple bathrooms feature Italian showers and baskets cleverly fashioned from recycled rubber tyres.
At apero hour (happy hour to you and me), head up to the rooftop terrace for a cooling glass while watching the sunset (staff ring a bell when dinner is served.) During the cooler months, the impressive grand salon is the perfect place to relax, featuring a bar, cosy lounge area and billiards table, as well as long dining tables and sheepskin throw-covered seating.
Bamboo softens the look of the stone-edged pool set well into the hillside; you can enjoy yet more stunning views of the valley from the rattan loungers and daybed style cabanas. There’s also an outdoor cinema for designated movie nights, and a games room complete with vintage table football and a pinball machine.
Tell us about the spa
The spa facilities are exclusively outside, with a sustainably-built bio-sauna and Canadian red cedar Finnish bath situated at the very top of the estate – the climb up the wooden ladder to the Finnish bath is worth the schlep for the views across les Alps alone. Sunrise or sunset visits are guaranteed to put the world back on its axis. If the Finnish bath proves to be too hot, head to the spa’s tubular-style bio-sauna instead, offering similar views in a gentler 60 degrees C setting.
In-suite treatments - including white stone massages and reflexology - need to book well in advance of arrival to ensure the availability of a therapist; yoga, meditation, hiking, electric bike excursions, badminton and volleyball are all on offer, too.
La Table 1720, so called after the farmhouse’s year of construction, offers fine dining with a relaxed vibe and a farm-to-table menu. Chefs Antoine and Flo grow seasonal vegetables and herbs on the farm potager as well as gathering honey made by the local mountain bees to flavour dishes. Goats cheeses and yoghurt are made on the farm from Castellas’ own 50-strong wild herd; guests are welcome to collect freshly-laid eggs from the hen-house.
Meals are served with the other guests (including some mischievous goats) on long rough-hewn refectory style tables dotted with glass jars of wild flowers. We start the day with home-made granola and fresh buttery croissants, lunching on table ladens with tomato, herb and courgette tarts; fried artichokes; sheep's cheese with Castellas honey; carrot and spice salads; and aubergine and hummus dips. Hearty tajines provide the perfect end to a day in the countryside.
The tranquillity, the beautifully spacious suites and the easy living, home-from-home atmosphere. It's very laissez faire; if you prefer structure and formality, Domaine du Castellas probably isn’t for you.
We didn’t love
The property could do with more shaded areas or parasols during the breakfast and lunch service - it’s very easy to fry in the arid, desert-like summer temperatures.
The wi-fi is patchy at best – but then you are here to switch off, non?
Who do you think would like it?
Eco-warriors, celebs – Juliette Binoche, Gerard Depardieu and Olivier Martinez have all filmed here - and those looking to switch off and re-connect with nature.
"Picturesque views; firm massages; friendly therapists who make you feel at ease; stylish interiors; attention to detail; outdoor hot tubs; infinity pools; fluffy robes and towels; a good selection of spa treatments."
"Any attempt to hard sell; inconsiderate therapists; areas in need of a clean; rowdy guests; cheap toiletries; restaurant menus that are overly healthy; cold swimming pools; no private changing areas; paper pants."