We have just read the unfortunate coeliac sufferer's review of La Chappelle Saint Martin and wish we had seen it before we stayed there last week. My wife's experience - as a coeliac for over 30 years - was almost identical save, fortunately, for the awful effects of unexpected contamination. She had checked with the hotel upon booking that they understood gluten free food need. Yes, no problem, she was assured. And, yes, when we sat down for dinner on our first night there the maitre immediately mentioned the sans gluten need, which won them a star in our instant reaction. Gluten free bread appeared. This was good, well done. But then came an amuse bouche looking suspiciously flour-inclusive. That was returned untouched with thanks. Then something green was offered, apparently a second amuse bouche? We tried it, hmmm, wife unsure and growing suspicious. The haricots verts salad then followed, oops that made us question the forerunner. Confused glances amongst the staff, some accusatory...we sensed a
screw-up had just occurred. But nothing was said. Perhaps our stay in August immediately followed the fellow coeliac's disaster previously described here? However, after this poor start the main course - VERY significantly comprising instantly recognisable ingredients - was close to a triumph - most palatable, beautifully cooked and charmingly presented. In other respects the hotel staff were absolutely charming and really tried very hard to help, except when we returned mid-afternoon on a Saturday having had nothing since breakfast and asked if room service could perhaps provide a snack? The response was a hunted expression and news that the kitchen closes on that afternoon. NOT four-star service then? The nearby supermarket in Nieul came to our rescue with bananas, crisps (gluten free) and a BLT sandwich for monsieur. Car parking beside the adjacent main road junction OUTSIDE the hotel's walled grounds gives little confidence and is hardly four-star. Decor is modern weird, maroon and roal blue, black and olive or grey, Russian kitsch glitzy beading on dark chairs, and the breakfast room - for example - is gloomy in the extreme, black and grey with 3/4 drawn curtains admitting little natural light. Large grounds look attractive at first sight, but a walk round reveals little care and two very neglected looking muddy-watered ponds. They try hard, and for many might succeed, but we left feeling disappointed, and as is often the case with relais chateaux, in receipt of precious little value for a bruisingly expensive bill. Why do we do it? Because one day, some day, we might hit gold... But not yet...sadly.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel La Chapelle St-Martin France/Nieul