Villa la Coste, Provence
Villa la Coste, Provence
A contemporary art haven set in a new boutique hotel among the region's rolling hills
by Joel Porter
Set on a hilltop above the Chateau la Coste winery, Villa la Coste boasts views of gorgeous stone farm buildings, endless rows of neatly planted vines, and bushy olive groves—all perpetually bathed in warm orange sunlight. The views alone would be enough to recommend it but as it also boasts restaurants from Michelin-starred chefs and enough world-famous artists to fill a gallery, it’s no wonder Villa la Coste has been hailed as Europe’s most exciting new hotel.
Although Chateau la Coste dates back to 1682, Villa la Coste only opened earlier this year—after 10 years in the making. The whole estate is owned by the Irish developer Patrick McKillen, also behind London’s Maybourne hotel group comprising The Connaught, The Berkeley and Claridge’s. In contrast to those stalwart London classics, Villa la Coste is a temple of modern, cutting-edge style; there's liberal use of white marble and glass, minimal clean straight lines, sleek modern furniture, and huge artworks by the likes of Damien Hirst—and that's just the lobby.
In each of the hotel's 28 suites there's a similar contemporary aesthetic—you'll find thick marble bathtubs, high-tech Japanese toilets, bespoke furniture that conjures mid-century Danish design, sketches by the likes of Tracey Emin, huge four-poster beds, and—in the top room categories—outdoor private plunge pools.
The hotel's formal restaurant Louison—helmed by three Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passédat—is a glass box that juts out over water, reminiscent of Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion. Downstairs you'll find pieces by Warhol, a bar designed by Hong Kong's Andre Fu, and a cosy library stocked full of books on art and architecture. A heated outdoor pool is sheltered by olive trees and has huge beds to relax on, in between splashes in the pool and sips of Chateau la Coste rosé (which we highly recommend tasting).
Visitors needn't leave the immediate vicinity of Villa la Coste and would be perfectly content for a few days, but a gentle stroll through the 600 acres of Chateau la Coste’s estate reveals riches galore. For starters, there's the stunning art center—designed by Tadao Ando, one of Japan's most famous architects, who also contributed the large concrete slabs that make up the entrance gate, and several angular "origami" benches.
Then there's the sculpture trail dotted with works by Ai Wei Wei, Andy Goldsworthy, Alexander Calder, and Louise Bourgeois to name just a few; the state of the art winemaking chai where the Chateau's organic wines are produced; a new photography gallery designed by Renzo Piano; and the outdoor music pavilion designed by Frank Gehry. To top it all off, there’s the first European restaurant from Argentinian chef Francis Mallman (he of Chef’s Table fame) who cooks simple but stunning dishes such as whole roast chicken with potatoes, cabbage and shallots in a huge outdoor fire pit. For art, design, luxury or food enthusiasts, Villa la Coste is a veritable treasure trove—with the views only adding to the spectacle of it all.
Sculpture and vineyard images by Joel Porter, all others courtesy of Villa la Coste