Chateau de Codignat, Bort-l’Etang

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Welcome to my castle!

Hotel

Château de Codignat is a beautiful 15th century castle surrounded by 15 hectares of  wooded park overlooking the village of Bort l’Etang. At the north end of the Auvergne, near Clermont- Ferrand, this is a part of France that is a little off the beaten track for many tourists, but  none the less very beautiful. It’s not quite in the Rhone wine region as it’s between Rhone and Bordeaux, but we’ve classified it as this for the blog, based on the abundance on their wines on the menu at the château.

The rooms with their stone walls and antique furnishings, such as four poster beds and chandeliers, felt like you were stepping back in time.  Our room was approached by climbing through a door off of a stone spiral staircase. A hallway led past the bathroom on the left with a huge tub and then into our bedroom on the second floor. The bed was super-comfortable and we had plenty of room with a few tables and chairs to relax on.

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Photo op only – I’m sleeping on the floor!

We made the mistake first of all of booking a two-bedroom  cottage in the grounds as there were three of us plus Barnaby, but then we discovered that there was no second bathroom upstairs. We then asked to move into the main château, and I am so glad that we did! The cottage, although nice, can in no way be compared to staying in the main castle.

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The Restaurant – dog-friendly and 1 Michelin star

The main restaurant is in a beautiful  circular stone room, where a huge fireplace dominates the room. There were six tables in here and then further tables outside (where we ate breakfast in the morning). The restaurant has one Michelin Star, but although the food was excellent, I wasn’t sure it was quite to that standard, maybe marred by the fact that we didn’t actually eat for an hour after we sat down and I was starving! We had mackerel to start, followed by chard with an Asian influence. The cheese board was magnificent and definitely worth saving space for. We hadn’t asked if the restaurant was dog-friendly as Barnaby was very happy to be left (he’s so well practised now that he  didn’t even bother getting up when we said that we were leaving him in the room!). However, when a couple left the restaurant and we discovered that their dog had been under the table for the whole meal, I felt a bit bad and went and collected Barnaby so that he could join us for dessert!

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Dinner is through here!

Nearby walks

Just on the right before you get to Château de Codignat is a large house, and to the side of that is a path that leads you into the woods. There is one main straight path that seems to go on forever, that I followed for the first evening. However, in the morning I went back with Anthony and we took one of the little paths off into the woods and explored the woods a bit more. Barnaby absolutely loved running around and spaniel sniffing! n.b. There are no bins anywhere outside the château for poo bags!

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Let me go!

Nice touches

  • Coffee machine

For more information visit their website: https://www.relaischateaux.com/gb/france/codignat-puy-de-dome-bort-l-etang

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Hotel du Vin, Exeter

 

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I appear to have horns!

The Hotel

We were heading down to Gidleigh Park for the weekend and had planned to stop off In Exeter for a night to meet up with my step-son and his girlfriend who are both studying there. Formerly an eye hospital, the hotel is an interesting building with high ceilings and wide corridors, and with some quirky features from its past. We had opted for a larger room which was extremely comfortable. There was certainly plenty of space and it had a huge bathroom in which we were able to put Barnaby for the night.

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The Restaurant.

Some Hotel du Vin restaurants (such as Birmingham) have allowed us to take Barnaby with us to dinner, but unfortunately not here. Anthony wasn’t keen on the design of the restaurant which was a funky contemporary conservatory added on to the building, but I rather liked it.  The menu was in keeping with Hotel du Vin high standards and I  enjoyed a classic moules frites. In the morning they kindly offered to set up a table in the library so that we could bring Barnaby with us for breakfast. It was a really lovely room, and we all had a peaceful breakfast reading the papers!

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Not funny!

Nearby walks

If you head out of the hotel and turn right you will quickly come across a small park, The Bull Meadow, where there is ample space to let your dog off the lead for a quick run around. Perhaps head off down to the quay if you fancy a longer walk along the canal.

Nice touches

Fridge for Barnaby’s food

For more information visit https://www.hotelduvin.com/locations/exeter/

 

Gidleigh Park, Chagford 🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾

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Mmmm shall I sleep on the sofa or the bed?!

Hotel

My thoughtful  husband knew, if we were to go away for my birthday, that I’d prefer to go somewhere where Barnaby could come too. So, months in advance, he planned a special weekend away to Gidleigh Park, of 2 Michelin-Star fame, on Dartmoor. I have to say it was truly special.

Gidleigh Park estate has been around since the 16th Century, but passed through several owners before being  bought in 1918 by an Australian sheep famer and shipping magnate. He arranged for the property to be completely rebuilt in 1925. It wasn’t until after he died that Gidleigh Park became a small hotel in 1955, and eventually was bought by Brownsword Hotels in 2005, and completely refurbished to the fine country house hotel that it is today.

There are two dog-friendly rooms, Lydford and Bellever, located in the north wing, that are attached to the hotel, but have their own entrance. There is also a separate two-bedroom thatched cottage on the grounds that is dog-friendly. We were in Bellever, a king-size master room on the first floor, which has a balcony overlooking the beautiful gardens and river below. We both thought it was one of the nicest rooms in which we had stayed in the UK.  It was very spacious, with a large seating area with a sofa, chair and coffee table, tea-making facilities, a Nespresso machine, home-made biscuits and even a decanter of madeira for a pre or post-dinner drink. They also provided Barnaby dog bowls, a blanket, a towel, dog treats, a homemade biscuit, poo-bags  and a torch for night-time wees.  In our rooms, they had thoughtfully provided waterproofs and umbrellas. Wellingtons were available and they even lent us an Ordnance Survey map. It seemed they had thought of everything for canines and humans alike!

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Mine, all mine!

Restaurant

Understandably, dogs aren’t allowed in the 2 Michelin-Star restaurant but they are allowed on the terrace and in the conservatory. To be honest our room was so large we had no problem leaving Barnaby in the evening after a long walk on Dartmoor. (They do also offer a free dog-sitting service or outside, heated kennels).

We had a slight panic on the day that we had planned to have dinner, as the fire alarm was set off which automatically cuts off the gas.  Luckily by the evening service, the gas was back on (phew!) We had a drink in the beautifully panelled drawing room in front of the wood-burning fire before heading to dinner. We decided to try the seven-course tasting menu, which I was assured wouldn’t leave me too full! As it was a Sunday evening it was very quiet and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier or more attentive. The food was delicious and with scallops, turbot, and cod on the menu I felt very indulged!

 

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Our room is the furthest on the right

Nearby walks

The hotel is situated in 107 acres, on the beautiful river Teign on the edge of Dartmoor. You can wander around the grounds for a quick walk, through the forest or along the river, or head off onto Dartmoor.  The hotel gave us information on a great 4.5 mile walk to Kestor and Scorhill, which could be adapted to make it shorter. It took us just over two hours with a detour to Kestor Rock to admire the views. It had been raining but by some miracle it stopped for us, although I have to say that it was very, very wet underfoot. It was my first visit to Dartmoor and I thought it was stunning and that we only just scratched the surface. I would love to come back!

We also ate in the village of Chagford on the first night. We went to The Three Crowns, a 13th Century, partly thatched inn, which had a dog-friendly area. There is also the Chagford Inn, which looked worth a visit.

Nice touches

Everything was a nice touch so I’m going to say the only thing that was missing, and would have been nice to have in our room….a fridge!

For more information visit http://www.gidleigh.co.uk/

The Woburn Hotel, Woburn 🐾🐾🐾🐾

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Nice white linen – perfect!

The Hotel

The Woburn Hotel is situated in the picturesque Georgian village of Woburn, and part of the 3,000 acre Woburn Abbey Estate.  It opened its doors as a hotel in 1701 but has been transformed into a contemporary hotel with an award-winning restaurant. I have to confess that our stay was a freebie, offered to Anthony as he had stayed there before for work when the heating and hot water had broken! When he found it was dog-friendly he was keen to show me Woburn and to explore the grounds of Woburn Abbey with Barnaby.

The cottages on the side of  the property are dog-friendly rooms. We were in ‘Endsleigh’ which had a big bedroom and bathroom with ample space to sit and relax. It was very nicely furnished and  very quiet and peaceful.

Woburn is small but really very charming. There are quite a few lovely pubs and restaurants on the main street that would also be worth a visit.

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Welcome to Endsleigh

The Restaurant

The hotel has a big bar, full of character, with dark beams and a massive open fireplace which has a huge sofa in it! The chairs were a funky purple colour that Anthony wasn’t sure about. When I enquired if dogs were allowed in the bar area, we were told only small dogs and not if it was busy!

The hotel restaurant, Olivier’s, is AA star-rated and situated in a lovely room with big windows and wooden floors which, unfortunately for us, was just being refurbished! We ate instead in one of the conference rooms, which worked pretty well. The menu was great and we shared gravlax on a potato cake to start. I had halibut with crab bisque as a main, and Anthony had the venison. Judging with how many deer we saw on the estate it would have not had to travel far to the plate!  The restaurant is not dog-friendly but Barnaby was very happy in the room.

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So you’re leaving me here?!

Nearby walks

In theory with 3000 acres of estate you would think that this would be the very best place to walk a dog – but NO! Dogs have to be kept on a lead at all times because of the huge number of deer. There were only a few set footpaths for the public across the estate and, as we missed the first footpath, we found it very hard to get back on it again! We ended up having a lovely 6 mile walk, rather longer than intended, in the glorious sunshine!

 

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Explain to me why I’m on a lead?

Nice touches

  • Fresh milk in the fridge

For more information visit: http://www.thewoburnhotel.co.uk/

 

 

 

Château De Germigney, Port-Lesney 🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾

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Just making myself at home!

Hotel

Château de Germigney is an 18th-century manor house, the former home of the Marquis de Germigney and now a luxury hotel (Relais & Châteaux). We arrived on a dark and wet evening and took a reluctant Barnaby around the grounds so he could do his business and stretch his legs. When we went to check-in, our bags were taken off us and we were ushered into the back drawing room where we were  given a cup of earl grey tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake in front of the roaring fire! The château is perfectly charming, everywhere you turn there appears to be another little sitting room, where you can relax with a magazine or book.  The furnishings, pictures and finishing touches are really nicely done and the château has a very comfortable and cosy feel. Our bedroom on the first floor was lovely with a king-size bed with super-comfy mattress and a little bathroom with bath and shower.

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Can you spot me?

Restaurant –  dog-friendly and 1 Michelin star

Before dinner,  quite a few of the guests were having a pre-dinner drink in the drawing room. We decided to join them with Barnaby and sat in front of the fire again with a G and T. I am sure the château is just as fabulous in the summer, but it really was the perfect spot for a winter’s night! As the restaurant had a Michelin star, I had assumed that we would have to take Barnaby back to our room whilst we had dinner. However, he was welcomed into the dining room and they’d even put a bowl of water out for him. He was very well behaved and lay under the table! Another couple brought their dog in, somewhat unusually, in a bag, so it was nice that we weren’t the only ones!

I have to say that dinner was excellent. I had a truffle-fest, truffle risotto to start and Saint Jacques with truffle for my main course. Anthony had a set menu (a meat-fest before he goes home with the veggie!), and I should note that his apple pudding (that he of course needed help with) was divine.  During an excellent breakfast the following morning, yet more people had their dogs accompanying them.

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We sat here!

Nearby walks

The grounds are great to have a walk around first and last thing at night with your pup. They were beautifully lit with lights for Christmas, but again, I should imagine that it is also really lovely in the summer to eat outside and to be able to enjoy the ‘natural’ outdoor pool.  We spotted some famous Bourg-en-Bresse chickens in the hen-house (a feature on the menu too) and a rather pretty shepherd’s hut in the car park!

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Anyone home?

In the morning we headed off for a longer walk. We went  left out of the château turning onto Maison Neuve and left again onto Rue du Moulin, following the river. The intention was to take a circular route back, but we were rather thwarted. The river was incredibly high and had burst its banks, flooding the road and making it inaccessible, so we had to take a bit of a detour. The village itself is also very pretty and Château de Germigney have a bistrot there, Le Bistrot de Port- Lesney, if you don’t fancy the fine dining at the château. It does have a Michelin Bib Gourmand, so you are still going to eat well!

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Verdict – definitely dog-friendly

Nice touches

  • A mini-bar for storing Barnaby’s raw food

For more information visit their website: http://www.chateaudegermigney.com/en

Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter 🐾🐾🐾🐾

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Yep, it’s comfy!

The Hotel 

Lords of the Manor is situated in Upper Slaughter,  one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. It has the added bonus of not being too touristy. The hotel  only has a few dog-friendly rooms which are situated further away from the main building. They are accessed from a covered walkway, but still feel very much a part of the hotel. We had a lovely sized room with a 6 foot bed which was super-comfortable. There was space to sit and relax, plus a decent size bathroom with bath, bidet and shower. It was also very nice that they had left Barnaby some Bob and Lush food and treats, and a bottle of mineral water!

 

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Are these really for me?!
 The Restaurant – 1 Michelin Star

The restaurant has one Michelin star which was the main reason for choosing the hotel, and I have to say that the food was amazing. On Friday and Saturday you have to have the tasting menu which is not a hardship! (our seven courses were described as  pumpkin soup,  beetroot, scallops, risotto, turbot, optional cheese course, cheesecake). I have to say that the mushroom risotto with 36 month aged parmesan was the nicest I’ve ever had, and only added to my menu as I don’t eat meat! A great substitute in my opinion. Dogs are not allowed in the restaurant, although  I think Barnaby would have been better behaved than some of the other diners there that night! He had a nice nap in our room while we were gone.

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Do you mind, I’m having a wee!
Nearby walks

Lords of the Manor has recently been announced as the Good Hotel Guide’s best Hotel with Gardens. It’s set in 8 acres with the river Eye running through it and Barnaby had a lovely run around in the wet grass in the morning. Anthony took him out in the evening before we went to bed and said that it was very hard to see anything as there was no lighting…so take a torch or a LED collar for your pup! The hotel also recommends some longer walks but unfortunately for us it was pouring with rain and we couldn’t face getting soaked.

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What a lovely garden!
For more information visit: http://www.lordsofthemanor.com/

Abbaye de Maiziéres, Beaune 🐾🐾🐾🐾

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‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’
 Hotel

Beaune is literally the very heart of Burgundy. It is a very pretty town with cobbled streets full of shops selling wine, food and generally gorgeous things! Abbaye de Maiziéres is a historic former abbey,  owned by the monks of Maiziéres from 1301 until the French Revolution. It’s a charming hotel, with an unusual entrance stepping down into the vaulted room below which houses the reception, lounge and dining room. There are only 10 rooms, all of which are dog-friendly and with no extra charge for your dog. We opted for a larger room, the junior suite on the first floor, which had a very comfortable king-size bed and walk-in shower room. It had all been newly decorated, which was lovely, but it felt a little bare, as if they hadn’t put all the furniture and rugs back! It did however have a large fridge. Very handy for keeping Barnaby’s raw food cold and for chilling a half bottle of champagne, purchased on our way down in Champagne!

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I know, I know…I’m not sleeping here!

Restaurant – dog-friendly 

The restaurant, Le Castrum Café, really is the main feature of the hotel with its beautiful vaulted ceilings. You can really imagine the monks of old at work and at prayer there. When we asked if Barnaby could join us for dinner they said, ‘bien sûr’, of course! The menu was so incredibly French with snails and foie gras, and masses of meat!  There was only one fish dish on the menu. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it was lovely and came in a delicious creamy sauce. Being in Burgundy, Anthony felt the need to  have a traditional boeuf bourguignon, although, strangely,  it was served with linguine. We both had a cheese plate to finish and the epoisse was tongue-itchingly good. I have to say that I felt a bit guilty as Barnaby got a bit chilled lying on the cold 14th  century stone floor, so maybe take something for your pup to lie on!

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Table for two, plus dog
 Nearby walks

Abbaye de Maiziéres is right in the centre of town, so we didn’t find anywhere off-lead for Barnaby to have a run around. We just explored the town with him on a lead, which sufficed.  In the morning we popped into a café for breakfast and again when we asked if Barnaby was allowed in they said, ‘bien sûr’, of course! Altogether it felt like a super dog-friendly place to visit.

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The entrance is down here!

Nice touches

  • Coffee machine
  • A fridge to store Barnaby’s raw food

For more information visit their website: https://www.hotelabbayedemaizieres.com

La Clos de la Tour, Chátillon-sur-Chalaronne 🐾🐾🐾🐾

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But you said bistrot, not bath?!

Hotel

We had booked into La Tour, but, when we arrived, we found that we had been moved to La Clos, which is another of their hotels around the corner. We had booked just a basic room which was small but perfectly comfortable and very quiet! The bathroom had just a shower, so was a bit too small to put Barnaby in, but he was happy sleeping by the side of the bed.

If you are staying in summer, I would recommend making sure you ask specifically for a room at La Clos, as this has the main restaurant that is open in the summer. It also has a lovely outdoor pool.

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I’ve found my spot!

Restaurant – dog-friendly in summer

On the website they say they have three restaurants: Gastronomic, Bistronomic and Patio. In the summer only the Bistronomic, at La Clos, is available in the evenings. I don’t know what other options are available in the day or if the indoor restaurants are dog friendly, so do check. All the restaurants are closed on Sunday evenings and all day Monday.

The Bistronomic restaurant was set up on the outside terrace and really nicely laid out. We had a table near a fountain, slightly away from everyone else, so Barnaby had a bit more space and could lie on the grass. There were cacti everywhere, even in teapots on the tables! The staff were very smiley and friendly and we had an excellent three course set menu, all of which was delicious, particularly the rather huge chocolate fondant.

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I’ve found more cacti here!

Nearby walks

La Clos has a garden which is perfectly adequate for morning and evening bathroom duties. Our only difficulty in arriving early evening, was that we had to try and find a more discreet place where diners couldn’t see Barnaby doing his business! There is a handy bin in the car park for you know what!

As we left the following morning at 6am, we noticed a lovely park on the river very near the hotel. This would have been a really nice place for a longer walk. Next time!

 

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Are you coming in?

For more information visit their website: http://www.hotel-latour.com

The Swan at Bibury 🐾🐾🐾

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Mmm breakfast!

The Hotel

The Swan is situated in the picturesque Cotswold village of Bibury, right on the river Coln. It’s very much on the tourist map, but with a dog you have an excuse to explore the beautiful countryside and get away from the coach parties! The hotel was super dog-friendly and our room had a dog bed and bowl for Barnaby. We had a basic room in the main hotel which, although it was small, had a bathroom big enough for Barnaby to sleep in. The hotel requests that you feed your dog in the bathroom where there are tiles, for ease of cleaning; fair enough!

The Restaurant

The plan was to eat in the bar area where Barnaby was allowed with us, but it was quite busy and noisy so we took Barnaby back to our room and headed to the brasserie on our own instead. This was much more relaxed and comfortable and we very much enjoyed our meal. We had breakfast with Barnaby in the bar area the following morning when it was more peaceful! You can also take dogs into the little sitting room where there is a fire. We had a coffee and read the papers there after breakfast.

Nearby walks

The Swan is situated right on the road at a junction, which has to be navigated first when taking your dog for its loo visits! The hotel does however have a small enclosed garden just across the road, with a stream running through it; a great place to wash off muddy paws! For a longer walk the very picturesque six mile walk from Bibury to Coln St Aldwyns (see link) is great, although you’ll need to work out how to get back if you don’t want to do double the distance! There can be livestock so some lead walking may be necessary and when we were there it was quite muddy!

 

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Wellies required!

For more information visit: http://www.cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk/the-swan-hotel