The monks may have long since departed, but there is still an air of tranquility surrounding Abbaye de la Bussiere, set deep in the heart of the Burgundy countryside. This former monastery, which dates back to the twelfth century, is situated in 15 acres (6 ha) of beautiful parkland in a lush valley between Beaune and Dijon. It is studded with fifty-one species of tree, with a small river, the Arvot, flowing through the grounds and feeding the large ornamental lake. The building has been transformed into a luxury country house hotel by English owners, the Cummings family, who are also proprietors of the renowned Amberley Castle Hotel in Sussex, England.
The grand interiors have been sympathetically refurbished and include dramatic vaulted ceilings, 20-foot (6-meter) high stained-glass windows, stone balustrades, and a romantic sweeping staircase. Although the Abbaye is unmistakably ecclesiastical in appearance, there is nothing remotely monastic about the eleven rooms: Toilede Jouy fabrics, chaise longues, and enormous beds (some four-poster) piled high with plump cushions make the rooms a far cry from their simpler origins. The bathrooms are decidedly twenty-first century, with power showers, whirlpool tubs, and Bulgari toiletries.
Although the interiors owe more than a passing nod to English country house style, the food here is undoubtedly Gallic. In a region known for its cuisine and wine, the Abbaye can hold its head high. Chef Olivier Elzer already has one Michelin star to his name, and conjures up imaginative dishes for his guests such as snails and scallops or beef and pigeon, relying heavily on local produce. Naturally, each dish is paired with fine wines from the best regional producers.