Here’s something rather unexpected. Surrounded by the idyllic French countryside, just a few minutes outside of Bordeaux, is the Hauterive Saint James, a classic French country hotel with a twist. The hotel’s Zen-inflected minimalist spaces are large and airy, outfitted with platform beds of blonde wood and walled in white plaster, to expand the already generous spaces. Windows open out onto a view of the Garonne river and the Bordeaux countryside. Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems are standard, and all layouts are unique; one room comes complete with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as, one presumes, some sort of makeshift couch. The cuisine is one of the main attractions here: Nicolas Magie's restaurant is fantastic. The wine list, naturally, is extensive, as is the collection of cognacs and armagnacs at the hotel bar and cigar room, and out back, guests lounge on the teakwood deck, framing a sleek black swimming pool. Not your grandfather’s Bordeaux, perhaps, but quite suited to its surroundings, once you get the hang of it.
• Architecture & Interiors: Jean Nouvel
• Unique: Saint James is a design statement, a conspicuously modern structure covered in panels of weathered steel grating, recalling the appearance of the region’s traditional tobacco drying barns.