What comes to mind when you hear ‘Bordeaux’? Wine, probably. If you’re a true oenophile, you might be thinking about the fact that the region produces some of the best wine in the world. There are also those huge slobbering dogues de Bordeaux, if you’re into that (my own personal preference is for dogs with less saliva and fewer rolls of facial skin). The city is appealing to historians too – with a rich past and numerous cultural treasures, one can while away many an hour in its narrow streets. Perfectly positioned to enable you to enjoy all these things is the Hôtel De Sèze, which is located only one minute away from a tram stop that serves the famous Stade Musard in the south and the even more famous Cité du Vin interactive wine museum and exhibition in the north (don’t forget to read my review of the Cité du Vin).
You can also easily access many of the major sights on foot as Hôtel De Sèze sits between the Jardin Public, where we saw the excellent Museum de Bordeaux (a natural science museum), and the UNESCO recognised old town. Therein, one can lose oneself in a labyrinth of boutiques, before emerging beside the impressive cathedral of Sainte-André de Bordeaux or the Place de la Bourse, notable for the classic French architecture of the 18th century and for the enormous 2cm deep mirror of water that stands in front of it, reflecting the buildings alongside acres of sky.
Even the most intrepid sometimes need a break from their gallivanting ways and, you can definitely still enjoy a day in which you venture no further than a quick trip to the famous Canelés Baillardran for some of the local treats. The Hôtel De Sèze has some lovely, cute rooms – ours was in the eaves (I only bumped my head once!) with dusky pink damask rose wallpaper and a tiny terrace with a view of the historic architecture next door. The separate toilet had its own washbasin and the bathroom seemed almost disproportionally huge! We were very comfortable in the twin beds, and I suspect the double rooms might be even more luxurious!
Other facilities at Hôtel De Sèze are the Comptoir De Sèze, where breakfast is served for guests and one can also have lunch and dinner on most days, and the Spa. We enjoyed a weekday lunch that seemed quite busy with a mix of resident tourists and passing trade. Our server Asalis was clearly busy and seemed to be largely working alone, but she was super helpful and attentive! Trying to keep it light, I chose ‘herrings burned’ with petits pois and, as a main, squid cooked at a low temperature with sage and braised beetroot. The herring was a little spicy (in a good way) but was also definitely reminiscent of the raw herring street food that I used to like on family visits to Den Haag in the Netherlands. The squid was particularly good with an umami flavour that made it taste like chargrilled chicken.
Charlotte opted for foie gras poached in veg broth, which was accompanied by a delicate fig chutney, then scallop and roasted parsnip. This was a striking dish with a glossy and opaque black butter sauce and ample saltiness for the French palate. We finished the meal with the recommended Café Gourmand, a selection of the desserts on offer that day, served with your choice of coffee (or alternative). We both slugged a much needed espresso and made short work of a spoonful of ice cream with biscuit crumbs, as well as tasting a couple of other tasty treats.
The Spa at Hôtel De Sèze is deceptively capacious, with a vault-like jacuzzi area and a large sauna as well as treatment rooms for the multitude of massages and beauty experiences on offer. Many of the treatment rooms also have vaulted ceilings, suggesting a former use as a wine cellar. When Charlotte and I travel together, it’s always nice to visit a spa which is able to accommodate friends who want to enjoy the experiences together but choose different treatments, since our tastes and beauty requirements differ considerably. We were able to choose a massage and a facial at the same time at the spa in Hôtel De Sèze and it was a lovely experience after a day wandering through the historic town.
My masseuse Julie was very skilled, paying particular attention to the areas in my back, neck and shoulders that needed to unwind from stress. Some of my joints clicked in protest and she knew exactly what areas needed work to soothe those particular problems. Charlotte raved afterwards about her facial, which made her skin feel more plump and healthy. Her therapist, Chloe, discussed options with her before beginning the treatment and suggested a tailored hydrating facial with a volcanic rock mask that heated up. She even gave a hand massage while allowing the mask to work it magic!
It’s completely possible to spend a whole day at the hotel, but you don’t want to miss the incredible city on your doorstep! A stay at Hôtel De Sèze makes exploring the city of Bordeaux easy and fun; the reception staff are friendly and can give some expert recommendations about how best to see the city. A visit here might change your perspective of Bordeaux – even if you come for the wine, Bordeaux has a lot more to offer! The next time someone mentions Bordeaux, I’ll be thinking of Hôtel De Sèze!
Hôtel De Sèze
23 Allées de Tourny