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Haddon Hall - A Glorious Country Manor House

Visiting historic houses is one of my favorite things to do in England and Derbyshire is a county that  offers an  extraordinary triumvirate of sites; Hardwick's Elizabethan glamour, the palatial splendors of Chatsworth and Haddon Hall, described by Simon Jenkins as "the most perfect English house to survive from the Middle Ages."  The joy of a visit to Derbyshire is that in visiting all three you can see the English country house through a variety of lenses and periods. 
In his definitive tome, England's1000 Best Houses Jenkins goes on to say of Haddon, "It has none of Hardwick's promiscuity or Chatsworth's bombast. It has not changed because it never needed to change". 
Indeed the house has remains in the hands of the Manners family since 1563 and is currently occupied by the Duke of Rutland's brother and his family. As they say on the website it has avoided, " fire; warfare;  family misfortune and changing fashions" and as such provid…

Chateau de Castel Nouvel

On our trip through the Dordogne we spent two nights at Chateau de Castel Nouvel outside of Brive. I wouldn't rave but at the price we paid it was a good value and I was happy with the stay. The chateau is attractive and has some historic interest as it was the country home of the French writer Colette and her husband. It has been a hotel since the 1950s and the architecture is predominantly Nineteenth century revival.

There's a lovely view and a pleasant terrace which must be fabulous in good weather.
The public interior spaces have been refreshed, though our large room had a much more old fashioned floral decoration.

We enjoyed the solidly good meal we had at their Michelin starred restaurant. As you can see the dining room has a traditional feel. 

The meal which showcased seasonal flavors, included the lobster, asparagus and morel dish above. As well as beautiful desserts and the most extraordinary petit four cart I've ever seen (below).

 The macaroon were great as were the marshmallows.

Our meal was good but we found the menu  a little too rich. At  Bastide de Capelongue on the same trip, we enjoyed similarly rich ingredients  but overall the composition of the menu was more balanced. Here the food was good but not sublime, each dish stood well on its own but in aggravate the meal was a little too heavy.

As you can see the public areas have an elegant and yet homey feel. Overall we were happy with the service and particularly liked their wine recommendations. One evening we went down for drinks, but not dinner, and due to a delay bringing us our wine they brought a series of complimentary pre-dinner amuse bouche.  It was very kind of them and much appreciated.
Because of the weather we didn't investigate the grounds, pool or tennis courts, though I liked the small vineyard planted just below the main entrance to the hotel. Given what we paid I was happy with the hotel and would recommend it as a good value.
Tip: It's a surprisingly economical option if you book their two nights for the price of one. We paid only 222 euro for two nights in a chateau room with breakfast on one morning. if you stay here you don't want to stay in the annex rooms where you'll just feel like a poor relation!