Some of my favorite hotels in the world include the Connaught, the Berkley and Claridge’s, so I had high hopes (and standards!) before we arrived at Villa La Coste, a short ride into the famed vineyards of Provence outside Marseilles in the South of France earlier this Summer. So, let’s just cut to the chase. Villa La Coste is one of the most incredible spa/hotels I’ve ever experienced.
From the minute we arrived, we felt like guests at a truly exquisite home. Our room was one of the most magnificent suites I’ve ever booked with beautifully framed photos and unique books decorating the space, making it feel clean, modern and warm. Even the Do Not Disturb signs are pieces of art.
The suite’s living area, dining area and a beautiful outside patio overlooking the Château La Coste’s extraordinary green vineyards was so soothing, we didn’t want to leave. A choice of indoor and outdoor dining venues, extensive gardens with a pool area, as well as a lobby gallery complete the guest experience.
Of course, the food is as exquisite as the setting. We had dinner at one of the four restaurants on the property, the Louison, a one Michelin star restaurant by Gerald Passedat, dedicated only to hotel guests. The other property restaurants include, Le Café De Tadao Ando, a wide open and bright space by the water with terrace; La Terrasse, an outdoor café with homemade salads, tarts and soups; and the Francis Mallmann restaurant, where the famous Argentinian Chef celebrates cooking natural food in an elegant way.
The next day we woke up and were driven down to the Tadao Ando art center, in the most perfect Land Rover Defender, for an art tour of the vineyard. Château La Coste is a large vineyard in Provence where art, architecture and land live in harmony. Thirty artists and architects were given the freedom to create something that would live there. Through the wooded hilltops and the valleys is an open-air trail dispatched with unique creations of art. The estate continues to evolve as new projects and installations are developed.
At the beginning of the tour, we got to see Louise Bourgeios’s Crouching Spider sculpture which was set in the water, followed by Alexander Calder’s Small Crinkly sculpture. As we continued the tour, we saw an incredible installation by Sean Scully called Boxes of Air.
One of the most interesting pieces of art was the Oak Roomby Andy Goldsworthy, which was an installation where you climbed down a flight of stairs that led to an underground caveen with tree trunks lining the walls and ceiling, leaving no spaces to see the natural light shining through.
There are 34 works on the property, including AIX by Richard Serra, Pavillion d’Exposition by Renzo Piano and Pavillion de Musque by Franck O. Gehry. There is also a chapel from the 15thcentury that was recreated by Tadao Ando, Pavillion ‘Four Cubes to Contemplate our Environment, with lots of natural light that travels through vertical lines of steel between the glass and the stone.
Another piece that stood out to me was an incredible Murano glass cross called La Grande Croix Rouge by French architect Jean-Michel Othoniel, who also did the metro stop at the louvre. A playful sculpture called Foxes by Michael Stipe, perfectly blended into the property’s natural environment. One of the last pieces, Cuverie by Jean Nouvel, is a hangar-shaped winery and cellar blend gracefully into the vineyards around them where the winemaking process takes place.
Our tour guide, Tess, gave an inspiring and interesting tour of all these artists that made seeing the art and architecture in these incredible vineyards way better than going to any museum.
Following the guided art tour, we went to dinner at the fire-lit Francis Mallmann restaurant, where we had fresh fish and vegetables from the garden.
The next day, we woke up and hiked around the vineyards, swam in the beautiful outdoor heated pool, followed by a signature mud treatment in the hammam.
Afterwards, we visited the Jean Nouvel Chaiare where we learned the steps of wine making, how all the organic principles are implemented and had a wine tasting with five of their rosés.
At Château La Coste, care of the vines, the wine making process and the quality of the finished product are of paramount importance. Architect Jean Nouvel was commissioned to design a technologically advance wine making chai, which would ensure that the finest wine is produced with the area’s lore and soul. This latest technology protects the natural expression of the grapes and brings new life to an ancient tradition.
From the elegantly designed suites, to the extraordinary green vineyards of Château La Coste, Villa La Coste is a magnificent place full of contemporary art, delicious dining and amenities for the whole family to enjoy.