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Luxury Experience – rediscovering Bordeaux at Le Saint-James HotelWednesday 24 February 2016
Nicknamed the “balcony of Bordeaux” for its panoramic views, Bouliac has long drawn gourmets and gourmands, those who love art and l’art-de-vivre. After World War II, this village, tucked away above Bordeaux, became a popular destination for lunches and parties, a refreshing trip to the country, a change of pace. In 1989, one of Bouliac’s most beautiful eighteenth-century farmhouses, an elongated longère characteristic of the region, became a hotel and restaurant. A stylish and unobtrusive location named Le Saint-James, a nod to the famed eponymous street in historic downtown Bordeaux.
Only 10 minutes drive from Bordeaux’s city center, Le Saint James Hotel is nestled in a stunning natural scenery, surrounded by celebrated vineyards, in the delightful little village of Bouliac. Designed by the great French architect Jean Nouvel, Le Saint-James is a design treasure immersed in natural light. Everything here is devoted to the cult of beauty and pleasure with exceptional wines to convoy the sublime food prepared by top Michelin-stared-chef Nicholas Magie. Distinct luxury, charm & authenticity, a personalized welcome and upscale services sum up the philosophy of Le Saint-James – member of Relais & Châteaux. It may not be to the taste of traditionalists yet it was listed, by the Ministry of Culture, as part of France’s 20th century architectural heritage.
In the 80s, the Jean Nouvel’s creative frenzy had caused a big stir in the world of hotels and restaurants. Almost 20 years later, it is clear that it has not dated in the slightest. And if there are still customers disconcerted by this Relais & Châteaux design, Le Saint-James remains the hangout of those who look for peace and sensual delight in an easy-going atmosphere.
Dominating Bordeaux, with its 4 pavilions, which style is inspired by the region’s old tobacco-drying barns, the hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens and vineyards. They are connected by the glass gallery’s anthracite staircases which lead, amongst flowers, to 15 rooms and 3 suites – all of which offer a generous and bright view on the Garonne river, Bordeaux and the Landes with, to the foreground, the Saint-James’ 1,600-square-metre vineyard. The landscape over the city and surrounding countryside is breathtaking and the night makes the hotel take its entire dimension, turning it into a ship of light.
Design and minimalist style
Harmonious blend of comfort and technology, the inconspicuous decor in each room allows light “to invade” the space: large bay windows, walls coated with marble powder, painted concrete floors, spacious bathrooms, furniture by famous designers, etc. The 3 suites from 50 to 70 sqm, are arranged as lofts and each one present a delightfull & surprising peculiarity. The suite Hauterive has a heightened bed allowing the guests to enjoy the landscape while in bed. The suite Harley-Davidson located in the ground-floor, opens up to a small semiprivate terrace with the vineyard as landscape and has a genuine Harley-Davidson bike in the room to complete the decor. The Jacuzzi suite has its own jacuzzi on the private teak terrace overhanging the vineyards of Le Saint James, overlooking the swimming pool with a view over Bordeaux: a magic delight and a real feeling of privilege & comfort!
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The awakening of the senses
The Saint-James’ gourmet restaurant conjures a cuisine that is indeed classical but nonetheless revisited and multicultural, featuring regional products. All this crowned by panoramic views of Bordeaux, the gardens, the swimming pool and the rows of Merlot vines that produce the famous “Vin du Jardin”.
Le Bistrot ‘Café de l’Espérance’
The “Café de l’Espérance”, the bistrot located in the heart of the old village of Bouliac, proposes a choice of grilled meat and fish, accompanied by “home-made” chips as well as a buffet of starters and desserts. An absolute must for those in search of a truly French atmosphere: a friendly ambiance with the additional option on fine days of eating under the barrel vault adjacent to the local church.
“Only at” the Saint-James
Throughout the year, Le Saint-James hosts thematic evenings around menus inspired by noble ingredients, depending on the season. For wine or ‘art de la table’ connaisseurs, L’Esprit Saint-James invites you to extend your enjoyment of the place’s refined delights with a range of products (linen, tableware, glasses…) and a choice of wines selected by Richard Bernard, including the famous Vin du Jardin, a Premières Côtes de Bordeaux bottled in a small cellar, at the edge of the park.
Every month, the long “Saint-James Gallery”, which unites the restaurant area with the rooms, presents a contemporary art exhibition, including works by artists from Bordeaux and around the world. To relax, there’s Jean Nouvel’s black open-air swimming pool, heated 8 months per year, a sauna, a walk through the superb 7-hectare park, or the Bordeaux Lac golf course, 20 minutes from the Saint-James. For the staging of events, receptions and other seminars, the Saint-James has 3 salons. They all have access to the terrace with panoramic views of Bordeaux and the surrounding vineyards. A dream setting for breaks, meetings, business or family lunches and celebrations.
And for those wishing to deepen their knowledge of wine and cuisine, the Saint-James offers discovery packages allying the pleasures of dining with visits to the grands Châteaux of Bordeaux.
Written by Ruben Brochado