Set the scene: Expel all thoughts of rusticity, this country palace hotel may once have been an old farmhouse, but it’s been given a total luxe-over, offering relaxation like you've never known it, show-stopping rooms, a spa and an 18-hole golf-course. Nestled below the impossibly pretty hilltop medieval village Les Baux-de-Provence, and flanked by a national regional park immortalised in paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, it’s a setting as pastoral Provence as you can get.
Who goes: Parisians of a certain class retreating from the city and cultured Europeans.
The vibe: The venture of Provençal businessman Patrick Saut and his wife Edith, the Domaine has an intimate feel with plenty of homey touches, from the cosy fire in the reception to the handwritten notes on arrival in your room and the scent of freshly baked bread each morning.
The rooms: Are arranged around a villa-style courtyard, focusing all the attention on the stone-paved swimming pool, shaded by centuries old trees. Choose from a classic, deluxe or loft room, junior suite or suite - all are capacious and airy, even if you’re a family of four or more.
Inside you can expect a colour palette of muted grey, charcoals and rich blues with grand chandeliers and dark lacquered-wood floors, freestanding bathtubs, his-and-hers bath robes and products made exclusively for the hotel spa.
The food: Is masterminded by Steve Deconinck (a young talent from nearby Michelin-starred Chez Bru), who serves up luxurious but low key dishes with a Mediterranean influence. Mouth-watering classics like bouillabaisse are given a fresh twist with the likes of candied red mullet and chorizo sorbet, while tender veal is matched perfectly with parmesan polenta and woody chanterelles. With plates so stunning they could double as works of art, and a focus on using seasonal and locally grown produce, it’s no wonder there are whispers of the words 'Michelin star'.
Breakfast is a naturally zen affair, with a spread fit for kings (eggs as you like, waffles, pancakes, fresh pastries, fruit, cereal and more) served in the ‘Winter Garden’, an indoor spot with vaulted glass ceilings that wouldn’t look out of place at Kew Gardens.
The spa: Is out of this world with a range of treatments using products blending pine, olive oil, verbena, jasmine and the estate’s very own honey. Combined with an indoor pool, hamman, sauna, steam room and hydro massage Jacuzzi, you’ll leave feeling as good as new.
The extras: Aside from the girly treats, there’s plenty for the boys too. The big draw is the 18-hole golf course, with angular greens planted to resemble Provençal fields, but come evening the bar is where it’s at. Backed by exposed brick, deep leather couches and with live music, it lends itself naturally to date nights – as does the private movie theatre where you can cosy up in front of a film of your choice. There’s even a kid’s club, based in two quaint gypsy caravans, so mum and dad have time to hit the golf course or indulge themselves in the spa.
Outside of the Domaine, head to Les Carrières de Lumières (€10), where exhibitions of famous artists’ work are accompanied by music and projected onto the bare rock of a cavernous quarry – tremendous, if not a little surreal. Follow the estate’s hiking trails to the limestone cliffs of nearby Château des Baux-de-Provence, the ideal picnic spot, shop locally-crafted home accents and lavender-scented savon at Eygalieres’ famous markets, or go for dinner in nearby Saint-Rémy – the list is endless.
The verdict: If you’re looking for a short-haul holiday that feels a world away from the UK, this newly renovated farmhouse is the place to find it. Just a 30-minute drive from Avignon airport, you can encounter refined taste, perfectly pitched service and total escapism.
Low season rates start from €250 for a Classic Manville room. Visit DomainedeManville.fr.en