Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Avize, France (Champagne) - A Stay at Hotel Les Avisés with Anselme Selosse

After doing a fair bit of research on where to stay in France's Champagne region, I discovered Hotel Les Avisés. The more I read about the property, the more I became intrigued by its owner, Anselme Selosse. You see, Anselme is the son of famous champagne maker Jacques Selosse, and one of the most renown producers in the entire region, some say the world. His champagne is so rare he has attained a cult following putting collectors in a frenzy just to have a bottle of his liquid gold.

In fact, Selosse champagne is made in such limited quantities and so sought after, that thieves stole $350,000 worth of champagne in April 2013 in a desperate attempt to get their hands on his bottles. Ask any expert in the region who the most avant-guard, pioneering, knowledgable and influential producer in the region is and the answer is almost always the legendary Selosse.

Anselme and his wife, Corinne, restored this gorgeous chateau surrounded by vineyards with the help of Bruno Burrione, an interior designer known for his work with Philippe Starck. The hotel only consists of ten rooms, but each one is best described as minimalist chic, where each piece is hand-picked and carefully curated with all the necessary luxury amenities in tow. The common areas are as comfortable and inviting as your own home.

The award for the coolest hotel room keys goes to Les Avisés - miniature bottles of Selosse champagne (not drinkable, sorry!):

We were led up the stairs through this hallway to our room:

The room was a beautiful and soothing space with calming colors that both looked out to the front of the estate from the bedroom and to the beautiful gardens in the rear from the bathroom.

We were delighted to be given a tour of a few of the other guest rooms in the house, and here you can see the unique decor of each room:

Unfortunately, Selosse is not open to the public for tasting and tours like the surrounding champagne houses. Even their restaurant is only lucky enough to get three bottles of their champagne an evening to serve their dinner guests. You can imagine my surprise then, when the next morning I was told I would be given a private tour of the Selosse caves led by Anselme himself! Here is a peak inside the areas that are not open to tourists:

Here is Anselme lighting a piece of paper to help illustrate one of his many philosophies on wine making in the region:

While Anselme and I communicated in my best French (he is timid to speak in English), dare I say it is enough just to be around him. Having a private audience with Anselme in his own caves, one gets the sense that they are in the company of a modern day Picasso, someone so influential and expert in their art, that they will be talked about and celebrated for their genius and contributions long after they are gone.

I will never forget being in the company of Monsier Selosse and the hospitality he showed me during my stay. He is a true artist with so much passion. I can't urge you enough to stay at Hotel Les Avisés when you are in the region; it is a slice of luxury. And even if you can't spend the night there, their restaurant is spectacular ... more on that in my next post!

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Oxfordshire, England - Soho Farmhouse

This past weekend I visited Soho Farmhouse, the latest addition to the Soho House family. Set on over 100 acres of farm land in the Oxfordshire countryside (about a two hour drive from Central London), the property is a member's only club exclusively for Soho House members. However, non-members can enjoy the facilities if they book an overnight stay (good luck, the staff informed me that cabins are reserved until Christmas right now, and after you read this post you will see why!). 

As Soho House operates a strict no photography policy, all photos here are copyright from Soho Farmhouse.

You will not be at a loss for things to do at Soho Farmhouse, it seems they have thought of everything! The indoor/outdoor swimming pool is heated for year-round use and situated on a small pond (guests can hop in row boats and row themselves around on the pond). The pool is connected to the gym and nearby tennis courts, and surrounded by a lawn filled with sun beds and an outdoor drinks bar. Next to the pool is one of several restaurants, Pen Yen, featuring a Japanese menu (below). 

The main dining room is set inside a magnificent wood paneled, steal beam and brick barn with an open kitchen and two levels of dining, including a second floor outdoor terrace. How cool are the chandeliers made out of wagon wheels? The a la carte menu features burgers, seafood, vegetarian options and Sunday roasts. All of the vegetables are sourced from the garden on the property and the rest of the products are sourced locally in the surrounding area.

Accommodations include 40 cabins each decorated in a beautiful country farm chic style, complete with their own mini kitchens. They range from studios to one, two and three bedrooms. Larger parties can book an entire farm house or farm cottage on the property. 

For those looking for a more rustic camping experience (think: Glamping), another fun option are the bell tents. Each teepee comes with a six-foot bed, a wood burning stove, rugs and a pair of armchairs. Bathroom, shower and sauna facilities are located in the Boathouse, less than 100 meters away. There’s also an outdoor living area, with tea, coffee, a hot water bottle station and hay bales around a fire pit.

For a few hours of pampering you can check into the Cowshed Spa complete with a hair salon and a shop stocked with all the best Cowshed products:

There is also the coziest pub on the property. I can imagine on a winter's day with the fireplace blaring you would never want to leave. A small stage hosts live music acts inside in the evenings.

Walking around Soho Farmhouse and visiting all of the different buildings on site and discovering what was inside, I felt like a kid on a treasure hunt. The Farmshop and Deli is a cafe serving all sorts of hot and cold drinks, smoothies, milkshakes, delicious cakes, deli sandwiches and yummy items you can purchase for take away:

For horse lovers, you can rent a horse for £50 an hour and walk, trot or cantor your way around the fields, accompanied by a guide:

There are two shops on the property as well, one that sells fresh flowers, home decor items and branded Soho House paraphernalia, as well as a high-fashion clothing store:

A horse drawn carriage is on hand all day to take you anywhere you would like to go on the property. It is also used in the morning to deliver fresh bottles of milk to each cabin and in the evening it pulls up to your cabin with a fresh stack of firewood for your fireplace:

There are lots of outdoor seating options and firepits for lounging, or for the more active you will find miles of nature trails you can walk or cycle around.

Soho Farmhouse even has their own cinema, so you can go to the movies in the evening:

While I was there they were setting up for a wedding in one of their barns, candles and bales of hay set the mood.

I'm already plotting my next visit to Soho Farmhouse. Whether you are looking for a countryside retreat to get away from it all, or want an active jam-packed vacation, this is the spot!

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