Set in 600 acres of parkland, olive groves, truffle woods and vineyards, France’s 17th-century Château La Coste is home to the art collection of Irish property developer Patrick McKillen. It has also just become home to Villa La Coste, a 28-suite hotel and spa, with a restaurant headed by three-Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passédat of Le Petit Nice in Marseille.
The art element certainly shines through. Villa La Coste has Louise Bourgeois works in its reception area, while all the state-of-the-art suites (from €600 per night, some with their own plunge pools) feature contemporary sculpture, photographs and other pieces from McKillen’s collection.
In its restaurant, Louison (lunch from €65; dinner from €95), Passédat aims to combine “la terre et la mer”. Starters include carpaccio of turbot with local black truffles, foie gras with seaweed broth, and fish bouillon with garlic extract and black olives. Among the mains are roast Haute-Provence lamb, slow-cooked catch of the day and a lightly truffled chicken with porridge oats, “in homage to my UK friends”, Passédat says. Desserts include fresh chervil rum baba. “And of course,” Passédat adds, “there will be the sublime Grand Cuvée Château La Coste wines.”
Any excess calories can later be worked off with a two-hour Art & Architecture walk around McKillen’s modern art installations. Following paths that include one by Ai Weiwei made from reconditioned cobbles, the tour takes in Andy Goldsworthy’s Oak Room (2009) and Tracey Emin’s self portrait Cat Inside a Barrel (2013), as well as Paul Matisse’s aluminium Meditation Bell (2012) and Alexander Calder’s Small Crinkly (1976). Donegal by Larry Neufeld (2013) brings a touch of Ireland, and Bourgeois’s magnificent Crouching Spider (2003) is set in the middle of a lake.