On August 28th 2012, we went to bed in the 21st century but woke up in the 18th. How? By staying at the Petit Hotel Labottiere in Bordeaux, France. The Petit Hotel Labottiere is many things: a private museum, an historic monument, an upscale bed and breakfast and the life’s work of a family. Best of all, it offers a totally unique travel experience. I know ‘unique’ is an overused word but this is the real deal.
The story goes like this. Back in the 1960s, Liliane and Michel Korber purchased an elegant 18th century hotel particulier that had fallen on hard times and spent the next 30 years bringing it back to life. They then decided to share this passion for the Age of the Enlightenment with like-minded travelers by creating two period rooms in an outbuilding of the property.
When we arrived, hot and dusty from a long drive from Spain, we were greeted by Daniel, the charming and urbane son of the proprietors who helped us settle in to our rooms, which were also charming – a bit like a Boucher tableau with modern cons, and some thoughtful treats in the little fridge courtesy of our hosts. (Caveat emptor. If you are looking for the standard luxury boutique experience, this ain’t it. It is more like staying at someone’s house who is very concerned about your comfort but it hasn’t been ‘designed’.) We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the elegant streets and sights of handsome Bordeaux, a city with over 350 classified buildings, lovely restaurants and of course, lovely wine.
But our time travelling adventures really began the next morning when we awoke, threw open the heavy wooden shutters with ancient hardware and saw our breakfast waiting for us in the mansion courtyard. Rich, gorgeous, abundant – I felt like Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette – but much happier. Throwing my Paleo Diet to the wind, I ate heroically, from another century. I ate it all.
After breakfast, we were given a sublime private tour of the mansion by Daniel. I have taken countless tours of countless mansions all over the world. Reader, this was something else. Here we have a son explaining both his parent’s life – their choices, decisions, acquisitions and the same for the life of the original owner – an 18th bachelor property developer whose aesthetic aspirations live today thanks to the Korbers. This tour is a great time travelling experience. It is great social history. If your favorite thing to do is to imagine the past, I think you will love it too.
Petit Hotel Labottiere
14 rue Francis Martin
Tel: 00 33 556 484 410