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A Bit of French Countryside Just Outside of Boston

SmarterTravel

(Photo: Eric Roth)

As you pull up to this sprawling French chateau, you may want to double-check your GPS in disbelief: Are you really less than an hour away from Boston? Located in the idyllic planned community of The Pinehills, Mirbeau Inn & Spa offers a Francophile retreat that is perfect for a quick romantic escape, an easy-to-reach girls’ spa weekend, or a guy’s midweek break to play hooky (and golf). And, at just around 50 minutes from downtown Boston, the hotel’s location can’t be beat.

Enter the inn and you’ll be greeted with French touches, like the chocolate-dipped madeleines at the check-in desk. Channel your inner French royal in a king suite with two fireplaces (one in the bedroom and one in the sitting room). The spacious rooms are likely bigger than the Boston apartment you just left behind.

(Photo: Caroline Morse)

Look around and you’ll start to see another French theme emerge: Monet. Mirbeau takes its design inspiration from the famous artist, and you’ll see prints of his work all over the property. The gardens are modeled after Monet’s pond gardens in Giverny. Step onto the iconic Japanese bridge and you may feel like you’re actually living inside a work of art.

Embrace a more relaxed European lifestyle with some time at the hotel spa. There are plenty of treatments on offer (like pampering pedicures, body wraps, or Monet’s Favorite Fragrance aromatherapy massage, in keeping with the artist’s influence). Otherwise, guests can enjoy the 14,000-square-foot spa’s facilities for free, regardless of whether they book any services.

(Photo: Eric Roth)

If you do decide to treat yourself, opt for the spa’s 50-minute signature massage. Your therapist will give you a choice of scented massage oils (depending on whether you want to emerge relaxed or energized) and then work his or her magic undoing knots and tension with Swedish-massage techniques. The 14 treatment rooms are relaxation personified—a gas fireplace flickers softly in the corner, pillows support your legs while your upper body is worked on, the massage table is heated, and you’re covered with a heavy blanket to keep exposed areas warm. After your massage, the expert therapist will bring you gently back to reality by explaining the source of your knots and how to correct them (for example, your shoulder pain may actually be caused by neck tension from bad posture).

(Photo: Eric Roth)

Afterwards, you can continue to unwind in the dedicated resting area. A heated foot-massage pool sits in the middle of the room, fireplaces and candles give the space a warm glow, and music calms your harried mind. Ergonomic recliners are located throughout, and guests are encouraged to nap in them (or to simply lay back and sip on tea or water flavored with lemon and cucumber). Spend a few minutes in the refreshing eucalyptus steam room before donning one of the spa robes and heading out to the terrace. Servers from the outdoor bar can bring you an ice-cold drink to enjoy in the large hot tub (a year-round oasis that is best enjoyed on a chilly night). The tub has colorful underwater lighting, and the crisp air keeps you from overheating. You can adjust the jets and bubbles in the hot tub with remote controls.

Now that you’ve turned into a puddle of chilled out Jell-O, head back up to your room to soak in your walk-in shower. Luckily, you don’t have to go far for dinner. Whether you prefer your French food in the form of haute cuisine or casual bistro fare, you can find both options right downstairs.

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

The upscale Henri-Marie restaurant sits in art deco splendor just next door, housed in a reproduction 19th-century French chapel. Behind its stone wall, a live jazz band helps set the romantic mood.

Although the food calls to mind the French countryside, its ingredients are decidedly local. The cheese plate, for example, comes with honey sourced directly from Executive Chef Stephen Coe’s beehives. The restaurant’s extensive and well-curated wine list offers tempting selections for all price ranges. For the main course, options change based on what’s in season but include local meats like lamb and rabbit as well as seafood.

Vegetarians, don’t despair: Inform your server and the chef will whip up something unique, like a casarecce pasta dotted with mushrooms and asparagus. Make dessert even more decadent by ending your meal with a bottle of Champagne (or the restaurant’s stock of affordable sparkling wines). Desserts change seasonally as well but are chocolaty and rich. After dinner, finish off the evening by taking an aperitif out to the fire pit, where guests gather for good conversation.

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

All of that eating, drinking, and pampering can wear you out, so drag yourself up to your room, where you can luxuriate in the specially designed Mirbeau beds. The mattresses are so amazing that you can buy them online, but they are pricey. Here, they are topped with high-thread-count sheets, hefty duvets, and plenty of plush pillows. The rooms are built for slumber as well, with heavy blackout curtains that keep the room cool, dark, and quiet, plus crackling fireplaces that lull you to sleep.

If you wake up hungry after last night’s dinner, breakfast takes place in the casual bistro. (And so does brunch, if you’re there on a Sunday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.) You’ll have your choice of healthy options like frittata-style omelets or indulgent ones like the massive brunch burger topped with a crisp fried egg.

Then it will be time to check out and head back to the real world. Whether you’re going back to the city, onto historic Plymouth, or down the Cape, you’ll carry around a little bit of the French good life with you.

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