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“hotel management & restaurant food quality don't match the beautiful Brantome river setting”

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Le Moulin de l'Abbaye
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Brantome
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 11, 2011

Our party of 2 couples stayed at this hotel for 2 nights on 8 & 9 Sept 2011. We have specifically requested for 2 rooms in the main hotel building (Mill House) & this was confirmed in an email from the hotel well in advance. Closer to our departure for our trip, we received an email from the hotel informing us that our dinner booking for 9 Sept in its restaurant could not be possible as the restaurant would be closed for a film project on that day. So we changed the dinner booking to 8 Sept.

Upon check in, we were told we've been upgraded to 2 junior suites in the Abbot House, which is across the river. While we appreciate being upgraded, we did not like staying at the Abbot House & that we've not been informed nor consulted before our arrival. It was worse when we arrived at the Abbot House & found out our room is on the third floor, over 60 steps one way. We are all in our mid-sixties & sometimes we have to (like in any hotel stay) return to the hotel room not just once a day, but may be 2 or 3 times a day. We protested but in vain as we were told the filming crew started setting up early in the morning & we were assigned the room in the Abbot House away from the main building so as not to be awakened up early. I thought the hotel should have at least informed us ahead of our arrival & let us decide if we would still continue with our room booking or stay at another hotel.

While in the room, we asked the receptionist who showed us to our room how to dail room to room & was told it was not possible.Yet there's instruction in the room on how to dial room to room. We also found out our room telephone had no dialling tone, same for the other couple's room. The unmanned Abbot House reception on the ground floor has a telephone but also not working.This persisted for our entire duration of stay of 2 nights, despite our repeated complaints to the reception. We were informed a telephone chip had been ordered but not yet arrived. So how could I contact the reception ? Should I walk across the bridge & back to do so ? What about morning calls ? I was not exactly staying at a cheap hotel. What if there was an emergency ? We've often stayed at Relais & Chateaux hotels before. But this was the first time we've stayed at one without telephone service for 2 full days.

For our friends' room shower, everytime the hotel guests in the room one floor above took a shower, water dripped onto our friends' shower.

Our dinner at the hotel restaurant was disappointing. Two of us had lobster wrapped in salmon as an appetizer but didn't finish as the lobster was not fresh.
One of us had cod as a main course which was also not fresh. Throughout the entire duration of our dinner, we've noticed the restaurant floor was wet all over. Perhaps, this was due to its close proximity to the river. But shouldn't something be done to the wet floor so that no one slips & hurts him/herself ? After dinner around 11 pm, we walked back to Abbot House from the main building in pitch darkness, otherwise a pleasant walk. We've noticed a hotel security guard walked ahead of us to turn off some lights along the way.

Brantome is actually beautiful & scenic. We like it & will return one day.The hotel has the advantage of being situated in a wonderful setting. But it has to improve its management. Will I stay again at the hotel ? No, not until it really makes an effort to reach Relais & Chateaux hotels standard.

Room Tip: don't stay at rooms in the Abbot House or the building across the street from the main hotel bui...
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank joyflee22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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147 - 153 of 474 reviews

Reviewed September 26, 2011

My experience relates only to the restaurant and NOT the hotel. I am 45 yrs old/ live in France near Bordeaux and had decided to have a gourmet weekend away with my wife down in the Dordogne. This restaurant has alot of hype about it and it is supposed to be a MUST VISIT restaurant in SW France. The town of Brantome i last went to in 1999 and is beautiful but somewhat ruined by tourism but hey- you can't have it all. So after arriving at theMoulin d'abbaye on Friday evening we were shown to a table on the terrace...there is no doubt this is a great setting and the building is attractive. The menu was either off the a la carte or a special feast of the tastes ( rough translation) for about 70 euros a head without wine.This was the menu that was suggested by the waiter and seemed to be the natural choice. That's a fair whack for me but i had Great Expectations! What then came was one of the most disappointing experiences of my life and nothing short of a rip off..for a gourmet experience it was abysmal, a slice of fois gras-OK no probs there - but then a tiny piece of Cod in a watery broth followed by raw slivers of mackerel with a ginger and soy dressing, followed by a piece of stew and so it went on washed down with the cheapest wine for 45 euros a bottle
( that incidentally costs 6 euros in my local)...by the end of my meal i was aware that many French visitors also felt the same way and were trying discretely to complain to the waiters.
Whose fault- mine? of course caveat emptor etc. I returned the next day to complain about my 150 euro disaster and was politely told... we are so sorry SIR did not enjoy your meal!!
The bottom line here is that having talked to other French folk in the town and in other hotels is that the restaurant and its menu is regarded as a bit of a joke by the locals and they seem to think it has Asian origins ( is fusion the right word!).....all very well BUT not for 150 euros as i have a very good Vietnamese take a way round the corner for 20 euros......Beware of what your expectations are.
PS: the restaurant is also unheated -

Room Tip: no advice on the hotel
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank pnursery
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 6, 2011

The town is fabulous. Go!
The main part of the hotel is lovely. When you arrive, you check in by the garden/canal with a complementary drink. However:
-No elevators (be warned). But the staff is lovely about taking care of luggage, etc.
-The hotel is 3 buildings. We were given a room across the street. It was blisteringly hot, and my husband commented that the room was warm and what about the a/c? Quelle surprise! The a/c had just stopped and that they were working on it but that we could open the windows, etc. No. I said what about another room, and after a couple phone calls, they 'upgraded' us to a junior suite. Which was lovely, nicely decorated, good bathroom.
-Unfortunately the junior suite is in the abbots house, which is a good 10 minute walk. You do feel as though you are in a different place. We didn't even bother going to the hotel for breakfast- lots of stuff closer. In addition, despite paying the ridiculous extra bed fee for my 9 year old, we only got 2 sets of towels both days.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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2  Thank europe_travel_lovers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 20, 2011

Room on second floor overlooking the mill; charming typical French décor. Comfortable. Staff all very pleasant and helpful. Good, secure parking. Excellent meal. Well worth its one Michelin star rating. Hotel in a beautiful position; 2 minute walk from the main part of the town.

Room Tip: Get one overlooking the water!
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  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank AJCG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 18, 2011

A few years ago, we visited Brantome and saw this hotel from the other side of the river and thought it looked gorgeous and that we would one day come and stay there. This year we were driving to Provence so took the opportunity to have an overnight here. I booked 2 rooms - one for myself and my husband and one for my son and his friend (both 13 years old) and wanted them to be overlooking the river and near each other. I received an email confirming this.

When we arrived we were told that the children were in the main house overlooking the river but that we had been put in the building across the road! We said this was unacceptable as we wanted to be near each other and so they moved the boys across the road too. Later on, I had a conversation with the receptionist and it became clear that the room that my husband and I had booked had obviously been given to someone who had arrived before us! The lady insisted at first that this was not the case but I was able to show her emails dating back some months to prove how long ago our reservation had been made.

This resulted in a frustrating and frankly unsatisfactory conversation. Clearly they could not move the people who were in the room we hoped to have so we stayed where we were. The rooms we were given were very nice, don't get me wrong, but it was the rather snooty way it was dealt with that annoyed us. What is the point of planning so far ahead and spending time and effort to arrange exactly what you want, only to find it all goes pear-shaped when you get there?

The dinner we had was quite nice and the setting by the river is lovely. However the boys ordered veal and this was truly the toughest and most difficult piece of meat to chew that I have ever encountered! However by this time, we were fed up with what had gone on earlier so did not bother to complain and put it down to experience. Our waiter, however, was utterly charming.

Breakfast was a bit of a "thin" affair - not a huge selection and what there was looked uninspiring. We did not eat much and the boys only had a couple of pieces of french bread each and some orange juice. For this we were ALL charged 22 Euros each - ridiculous and no notion of any reduction for the children. Some of the later hotels we stayed in waived the charge for them completely as they eat so little.

We left feeling rather disappointed. It is a lovely looking building but we felt that the staff could do with a lesson in customer service. We certainly do not plan to return.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank kazpalms
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2011

We first stayed at the Moulin de l’Abbaye in Spring 2010. You can see my earlier review. Apart from a shambolic breakfast service it was excellent and I said I would be back. So again in Spring 2011 we broke our trip north there. Oh dear.

The setting was still superb. But a few things had changed. Like virtually all the staff apart from the excellent valet parking man. A rather incongruous ultra modern outside seating area had been grafted onto one side and a fake turning mill wheel on the other. But we had the same comfortable room with a fantastic view of the terrace, the river and the historic town beyond.

We arrived in the restaurant to find that the fixed "gourmet menu" had been replaced by an à la carte menu with three or four choices or a tasting version combining all of them. We picked the à la carte and I went for foie gras followed by pigeon, my partner for marinaded mackerel and veal. We both chose Grand Marnier soufflé for pudding.

Perhaps I should have checked but when I normally have foie gras in a restaurant, it is served fresh, warn and pink. What turned up were two rounds of a preprepared foie gras pâté with a couple of relishes. I was told it had been poached in Monbazillac and it tasted fine. But nothing more than I could have picked up in a tin from any of the excellent shops in the town. The marinated mackerel was nicely presented but unremarkable.

My pigeon was pink and well flavoured. But accompanied by a potato and vegetable cake that was woefully under seasoned. My partner had a tender hunk of veal, cooked just right. But with a couple of beetroot of formidable proportions that rather threw the presentation.

The real disappointment was the dessert. The nearest it must have been to Grand Marnier was if some of the ingredients were stored in the same cupboard as the bottle. It was a rather poor, flavourless egg custard. A couple of other diners obviously felt the same as I saw them, all with disappointed expressions, passing their dishes around their companions for a taste… or not! Does their chef actually taste anything?

Wine prices were steep even considering the location, focussed on high end and running into thousands of euros. I wonder if they actually had all of them in their cellar but I wasn’t tempted to find out. I settled for a decent Bergerac but still at a price higher than the notorious Gordon Ramsay charges for similar in London. I did weaken though with a 1945 Armagnac, a powerful flavour at an even more powerful price. But served with excruciating attention to measure that the waiter might just have well used a syringe.

The meal ended on a surreal note. I had been intrigued if not irritated by a couple sat on the other side of the restaurant. He kept his large cowboy style hat on throughout while his partner was frequently on her mobile phone. It was only when another table left and cleared my view though, that I saw they were in fact three. The third diner was their dog, sat in the chair and being fed from their own cutlery as the meal progressed. Now we did have our own dog with us, quietly curled up under the table. Luckily she didn’t notice the other dog with a preferential place. Or she would be asking questions.

Breakfast was fine, buffet style and nothing special although they did come up with a perfectly cooked poach egg.

The service had been superb but the meal – apart from a couple of high notes – was a real disappointment. Here seems to be a hotel restaurant relying on its surroundings rather than trying to match them. It was very poor value for money. Checking afterwards it seems that le Moulin is now one of several run by a hotel and restaurant “consultancy” called The Phoenix Group. Why do I think that says it all? Will I be back? I would like to return but only if there are big improvements in the kitchen, for instance if they get their Michelin star back.

Now if you are wondering about Part Two. Search for “Maison Tirel-Guerin”

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Gareth-Cymru
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 15, 2011

We booked the "romantic stay", a two night package with a variety of benefits, including a "romantic bath". First let me say that the photograph of the romantic bath utilized on the hotel's website was in no way indicative of our experience. Our room, while very pleasant, was fairly cramped, though it had a nice outlook towards the canal. The bathroom had a very small bath (additionally with only a hand held shower, although a wall attachment could easily have turned it into a proper shower). We thought there might be some sort of spa where the appropriately sized romantic bath would be drawn. But no, at the appointed time our tiny bath was filled with bubbles, oil and petals, and illuminated with candles. Very pretty, but totally ridiculous. Other inclusions were better appreciated by us. Dinner was very good, lunch at Au Fil du Temps was delicious, the boat ride was very nice, and the massage was relaxing. The wi-fi access was terrible, timing out after a short period and requiring you to constantly log in. Staff were very pleasant, helpful and professional.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Cmsalt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Le Moulin de l'Abbaye

Address: 1 avenue Pierre de Bourdeilles, 24310 Brantome, France
Location: France > Nouvelle-Aquitaine > Dordogne > Brantome
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Brantome
Price Range: $150 - $296 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Le Moulin de l'Abbaye 4*
Number of rooms: 20
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Also Known As:
Le Moulin De l`Abbaye Hotel Brantome

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