The extraordinary little hotel, set on a steep hill only half an hour from Le Havre, that used to be just Le Donjon and one of our favourite places for a short break, has expanded, both in name and physically. In its new incarnation as the Domaine St Clair, it incorporates the original 19thC ivy-clad château and a recently acquired Belle-Epoque seaside villa. Le Donjon is a former hilltop castle, with venerable origins and a secret subterranean channel to the sea, now safely surrounded by the leafy suburbs of Étretat.
Inside, all is bright and light, decorated with Parisian sophistication. The dining room, candlelit and mirrored, with a breathtaking view over Étretat’s famous cliffs, is wonderfully atmospheric. All the bedrooms – split between the two buildings – are different and immensely stylish; some are named after the celebrity friends of Camille de St-Phale, former grande dame of the château. Bathrooms, some in the turrets, are spacious and elegant in pure white. There is also an impeccably kept small swimming pool surrounded by sunshades and loungers. The menu offers rather more possibilities for pensionnaires, with the option of choosing dishes from the carte, as well as the four-course menu Gastronome. We have been unable to visit the villa, so would welcome further reports.