In Brittany, a stylish boutique hotel blends past lives


Check In: Castelbrac Hotel, Dinard, France

Rates

From 320 euros (about $360).

Basics

In its former life, Castelbrac, a 25-room boutique hotel that opened last summer, was a private mansion owned by an English lord in the late 1800s, then a marine research center and aquarium in the 1930s. After three years of renovation, this sea-facing stone-walled “soul heaven,” as the hotel promotes itself, melds the best of both its past incarnations. Mismatched buildings feature personal touches like artwork from the French caricaturist François de Givré and a wacky foyer with a black lacquered spiral staircase and walls covered in green palm-tree paper. The former aquarium space is now the Aquarium Bar, in hues of blue, with shimmery mosaic columns and portholes.

Location

About an hour’s drive from Brittany’s capital city of Rennes in western France, the hotel is easy to miss from the road since its stone walls blend in with the sea walls of Dinard, a longtime vacation spot for Bretons and old-time international elite such as Lawrence of Arabia, Jules Verne, Pablo Picasso and more. Private parking is available for a fee.

The Room

Our basic room had personality, and space, to spare. Striped curtains in orange, olive and eggplant set the color scheme, while the king bed had two night tables — one with an alarm clock/iPod dock, the other with a cordless phone. There were lamps aplenty, including one on the wooden desk that looked like a stapler and proved difficult to turn on and off. Additional contemporary touches like woven bowls from the brand Asiatides added to the quirky modern décor. The room had a flat-screen TV, ample hangers and drawers in the huge closet, a handful of outlets and a full-length mirror by the door. Some higher-level rooms have a balcony or a terrace. The minibar provided free Nespresso coffee and beverages, including local Breizh tea and cola.

The Bathroom

In typical European style, the toilet was separate — and on the opposite end of the room — from the sink and shower, which overlooked the port and hence provided the “sea view.” The mirror was subtly shaped like a fish, and the doorless shower with frosted glass walls had both hand-held and rain shower heads. Toiletries were by the French tea-based brand Thémaé, and bathrobes, slippers and exfoliation gloves were provided.

Amenities

There’s a small fitness and treatment center with spa services such as an Ayurvedic massage and hydration facial, along with an indoor hammam that opened in July and a long, narrow dipping pool that overlooks the sea. Guests who prefer being on the water, rather than in it, might want to take advantage of the wooden vaporetto-style motorboat that brings guests to St.-Malo, a walled naval city and tourist destination, 10 minutes across Prieuré Bay (free).

Dining

Room service is available 24/7, but because meals are otherwise served in a bright white, windowed space open to the bay, we opted to eat breakfast there. Convenient yet pricey at 18 euros (about $20), the continental buffet offered fresh-squeezed juice, a selection of French pastries, yogurts and cereals, fruit and standard U.S. drip coffee. Dinner and lunch at Le Pourquoi Pas restaurant, in the same space, featured first-rate seafood, while snacks and fancy Champagne cocktails are served all day in the indoor lounge and bar or on the terrace.

Bottom Line

A stylish, seaside establishment that is not a resort, with both historical and contemporary flair and top-notch service.


Reader Comments


Next Up in Travel

Travelers crave price transparency
Travelers crave price transparency
If the words "price transparency" don't make your eyes glaze over, then you're probably one of the hundreds of thousands of travelers who feel ripped...
Volunteering for the harvest
Volunteering for the harvest
As a wine lover with an active imagination, I’d always pictured the French wine harvest as a cross between “Sideways” and “I...
Florida Seafood Festivals
Here’s a sampling of seafood festivals in the Sunshine State from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Thanks to a Netflix series, Marseille gets an overdue close-up
Thanks to a Netflix series, Marseille gets an overdue close-up
It’s always been Paris. Paris has always been the star, the setting of novels, of films, of television programs, of vacation fantasies.
Where to go mountain biking in North Georgia
Where to go mountain biking in North Georgia
Whether you've just purchased your first mountain bike, or want to push yourself to the limit by testing out some of your seasoned single-track...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com.

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.