If ever there was a place for a wicked stepmother to lock a fair maiden away in, or to find Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold, it would be in the three floating towers of Château de la Goujeonnerie. Never has the description “fairytale” been more apt than when applied to this 19th Century picturebook property in The Vendée, France.
The owners have had something of a fairytale rise to prominence themselves. The three entrepreneurs – Hassan Abdullah, Michel Lasserre and Stefan Karlson – behind joyfully flamboyant restaurant Les Trois Garçons, took their first steps on the path to success by opening up just as the Shoreditch renaissance took off. Next came colourful London bar Loungelover, and an antiques shop cum café recalling the trio’s time on a Camden Market stall. Now with Château de la Goujeonnerie revealed in all its glory, Les Trois Rois might be an apt nickname for the partners.
That antiques experience will have come in useful when renovating the 1872 château, which was in a derelict state when they found the place in 2006. Seven years on and the wow factor is back – as the creative force of the three Hassan can take the plaudits for the now signature theatrical presence which sashays seamlessly into the hotel from the trio’s previous projects, making ornamental flourishes as it goes. It’s less than an hour’s drive from La Rochelle airport, but probably a bit more in a gilded horse-drawn carriage, which is how one really should arrive.