Just outside Gordes, Le Mas de la Sénancole is an attractive and affordable base for exploring the beautiful villages of the Luberon.
Click here to book a hotel in Gordes
Note that the Mas de la Sénancole is located not in Gordes itself but in Les Imberts, a mainly residential hamlet just over 4 km / 2.5 miles south-west of Gordes. This makes it slightly impractical as a base for exploring that village or eating out there. But it does also mean that there is plenty of free parking.
From the outside the hotel looks like a lovely, centuries-old traditional stone farmhouse in the local style - a real old provençal mas, in fact.
Generously planted with flowering shrubs, the landscaped Mediterranean garden is really gorgeous. It's well worth trying for a room with a little individual outdoor terrace leading directly into the grounds (note, however, that these terraces, pictured below, aren't screened off from other guests wandering past).
Aim for one at the back of the hotel, although it may not be easy: the Mas has only 21 rooms in total.
A hotel spa, with a sauna, jacuzzi and hammam is included in the room price (there's a small extra charge for towels and robes, or you can bring your own), as well as a large, heated outdoor swimming pool. Alas, though sorely tempted by both of these, we didn't have time to sample them. There's even a pétanque playing ground somewhere too.
Not to be confused with the nearby Abbaye de Sénanque, the Mas de la Sénancole (the Sénancole is the river running through the region) turned out inside to be a modern, purpose-built hotel. It was constructed in the 1990s, we were told.
The lobby is spacious and welcoming but the bedrooms, while perfectly comfortable, are on the small side and decorated in a rather impersonal, chain hotel style.
They felt a little no-frills and functional - the bathroom has one of those cost-cutting institutional soap and shower gel dispensers, for instance.
Noise could be an issue if your room faces the main road into Gordes or if you're prone to be irritated by plumbing gurgles and trolley suitcases being dragged along the tiled corridors. There's free (unsecured) wi-fi throughout the hotel but, though our room was very close to the lobby, internet reception in it was unreliable.
The breakfast room and restaurant are both in separate outbuildings. We weren't convinced by this concept as far as breakfast as concerned.
You might well prefer not to go outdoors first thing in the morning, especially if you're not staying during the high season and the Mistral wind is blasting away at top speed.
On the other hand in warm summer weather, the option of taking breakfast by the nearby swimming pool is a tempting one.
If it's too cold to eat outside, you may find the breakfast buffet room itself on the small side and noisy when full. Perhaps there was a staff shortage on the morning we stayed, but we were surprised to see no-one appearing to top up the coffee pots and food spread or to clear tables for over 40 minutes. As often in French hotels, there's a mighty surcharge for breakfast.
In the evening, though, a very short stroll over to L'Estellan, the restaurant, creates the pleasant and relaxing sensation of going out for dinner rather than eating in a hotel dining room. Plus you don't have to worry about drinking and driving when it's time to go home!
The interior decor is as bland here as in the main building (again, though, there's an attractive outdoor terrace). But the food and service here were both of high quality.
It looks as if the set menus don't change often, which might be a deterrent for longer-term visitors dining nightly (when we stayed, at the beginning of April, the "winter menu" was still on offer). Even so, the restaurant is warmly recommended. It's open to non-guests too.
Visited April 2014
Where: Le Mas de la Sénancole, route de Gordes, Les Imberts, 84220 Gordes. Book a room at Le Mas de la Sénancole near Les Gordes