La Maison d’Estournel, Bordeaux, France
A building grand in appearance, yet with a relaxed attitude and welcoming ambience, La Maison d’Estournel honours its past while firmly rooting itself in the 21st century.
Inherited by Louis Gaspard d’Estournel in 1791, the Pomys Estate, together with the Cos wine estate, was the subject of a vision and subsequently the devotion of the young landowner’s life to create the perfect environment for the vineyards to thrive. The Pomys Estate, now La Maison d’Estournel, was originally a private residence despite being referred to as a hotel. 200 years later, it became a 10-bedroom Italian villa-style establishment, and the hotel became known as a house (maison). Later it was bought by hotelier Michel Reybier, founder of La Réserve lifestyle hotels, along with its surrounding 12-acre vineyard.
Tucked away in the French Medoc wine country, Michel Reybier wanted to honour the former owner’s vision, and now the estate plays host not only to the precious vines but also a sumptuous but informal country hotel, where guests are made to feel as welcome as they would in their own home.
Michaelis Boyd was tasked with the renovation of La Maison d’Estournel into this refined yet relaxed boutique hotel that would once more be considered a home-from-home. With this express sensibility of an authentic country house, today the design favours natural materials in celebration of the rich and verdant landscape of the region.
Spread over four floors the interiors are anchored by the building’s original staircase, and a series of reception and dining spaces, alongside 14 guest rooms, including four signature suites, are thoughtfully set out within the existing building. The result is a quiet haven that is both contemporary and sensitive to the original chateau, punctuated throughout with discreet references to the world of the vine.
Everything in the hotel is chosen specifically for each space. There is no formal reception area – visitors enter the large ground floor hallway via restored carved stone arched doors, and are then free to flow between the living room and library into the bar and restaurant area.
Central to the ground floor is a carved timber bar topped with veined Verde Inssogne marble and bespoke leather, which invites guests to perch and take in the theatricality of the restaurant from beneath a glass chandelier.
In the kitchen, ornate fireplaces have been restored and updated – dark tiles draw the eye to the delicate carvings and details of the original marble stone mantlepiece, contrasting with a more minimal second hearth that has a contemporary open back allowing vistas through the flames into both the restaurant and the library.
The library is an eclectic mix of furniture and patterned fabrics combined with a rich palette of materials. Wall-to-wall joinery create a cosy backdrop collage for decorative items chosen for their visual quality, including the books themselves.
Above, the bedrooms have been arranged to maximise incoming natural light and views of the outdoors. Light and colour from the natural surroundings pour into the guest rooms through long windows. The series of rooms are a balance of traditional shapes, natural materials and understated elegance, with curving tiled showers that reference the round wine barrels that once filled the Chateau, even the ceiling cornices recall the style typical of the bourgeois homes of historical wine estate owners. Dark oak plank floors and white timber panelled walls create a serene backdrop that contrasts with a subtle mix of colours and plush upholstery in burgundies and deep blues. In the four Signature Suites, luxurious freestanding bathtubs sit beside the bed. Right from each entrance, the deep colours of the headboard, velvet-covered seats, curtains and lighting echo the stylised and embroidered floral motifs found elsewhere in the hotel to create an ideal setting for nature’s verdant, ever-changing tableau.
The renovation involved excavating the original detailing and regal proportions, which had been obscured by partition walls and nineties décor from the existing hotel. Remaining grand windows and high ceilings helped restore the initial layout. The original staircase, with its elegant iron balustrade, spindles, and curved timber handrails that flank cantilevered stone steps, became central to the design. The contemporary furnishings and décor remain attuned to the original architect’s intention.
A strong visual relationship between existing and newer features bridges the maison’s Italian and French architectural influences. Monochrome tiled floors in the hallway and new wall panelling and cornicing typical of the region, timber floorboards, and solid oak parquet feature throughout. All of which adds to the subtle grandeur of a well-loved family home in the country. Alex Michaelis, Co-Founder of Michaelis Boyd commented, “Our approach to La Maison d’Estournel from the very beginning was to create a hotel where the staff could welcome the guests as though this was their home.”
Throughout, the décor is intended as a continuation of the outside world indoors. The communal areas of the ground floor flow out onto the outdoor dining terrace and expansive gardens. Antique decorative items, artworks and books are a nod to the aesthetics of pastoral outdoor living. The dining room, with its large convivial tables, as well as between the library and the kitchen – the latter being freely accessible to those wishing to discover the secrets of the chef at work – ignore the conventional codes of the traditional hotel industry. This is a place dedicated to an art of living in complete simplicity, where guests can even try their hand in the kitchen if the fancy takes them.
Pattern, texture and colour punctuate otherwise predominantly muted tones and organic materials. Stone, wood, cotton, and raw linen evoke the earthiness of the country house and dark green marble with heavy veining echoes the leafy tree-lined drive and the foliage in the garden and surrounding vineyards.
The theme is unmistakable and it’s difficult to imagine any other story unfolding here, but that’s what makes Maison d’Estournel so captivating. Whether wine is your thing or not, the links to its former owner and vision of its current owner is what gives the maison its personality and familiarity, resulting in a hotel that offers the feel and comfort of home.
OPERATOR: Michel Reybier Hospitality
DESIGN: Michaelis Boyd
SUPPLIERS: Lighting: Chelsom, Neoz, Astro Lighting, Graham & Green, Pooky, Licht Im Raum, ZONCA, Rothschild & Bickers, Soho Home, Jim Lawrence, Rockett St George, Bronze d’art, Davey Lighting, Espace Lumiere, Flos Furniture: ANA-MD, Mambo Unlimited Ideas, George Smith, John Lewis, Ironmongery- Direct, The Contract Chair Co., Tectona, Fermob, Vincent Sheppard Fabrics: Romo, House of Hackney, DESIGNERS GUILD, Jane Churchill, Colefax & Fowler, Dedar, Sunbrella, Nina Campbell, OKA, Hug Rug Parasols: Vlaemynck, Tectona Accessories: Cox and Cox, Decor Walther, Barker & Stonehouse, Graham & Green, Perch & Parrow, Conran Shop, Loaf, Whistler, Maison du Monde, GUBI, AH Brass, Holloways of Ludlow, Garden Trading Rugs and carpeting: Floor Story, Kuato, Lila Rugs
Photography by Billy Bolton