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Domaine des Étangs

Massignac, France
The French countryside is not short on château hotels with magnificent gardens. But the Domaine des Étangs, in the pastoral Charentes département, takes the conceit to a whole new level.
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The French countryside is not short on château hotels with magnificent gardens. But the Domaine des Étangs, in the pastoral Charentes département, takes the conceit to a whole new level. This restful retreat, once the vacation home of the Primat-Schlumberger family, is set on 2,500 practically virgin acres. And it’s all yours to roam in total freedom, be it on horseback, mountain bike, or in an electric car. As for the main house, rising design star Isabelle Stanislas restored the 11th-century building’s great bones, mixing in chic contemporary furniture and fixtures by Philippe Nigro and Michael Anastassiades (along with some pieces of her own design), and photography and art by the likes of Hiroshi Sugimoto and Hans-Peter Feldmann. Six old stone cabins are also bookable for families, a rare consideration in the French five-star universe. A former chef at the French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park provides hearty locavore fine dining, magnificent in-cabin dinners (complete with waitstaff), and perfect picnic baskets. Staff is friendly and efficient, but otherwise invisible, so as not to interfere with anyone’s idyll. domainedesetangs.com; doubles from $652.

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