My friend Ming was visiting from Toronto, so we decided on a quick mini-break to southwest France.

On the advice of our travel-expert friend Jean-Pierre, we opted for Le Stelsia — a boutique resort hotel near Agen, near Bordeaux.

Situated in the village of Saint-Sylvestre-sur-Lot, Le Stelsia is surrounded by extensive parkland.

Getting there was easy — a direct train from Paris to Agen, and then a short transfer to the hotel. If you were staying for a longer period, a hire car would be useful so you can explore the surrounding region.

Le Stelsia is visually stunning — a design-hotel in the true sense of the word. Bold use of colour, a quirky sense of humour, and a modern aesthetic have created a dream-like world. There’s a child-like sense of play throughout the hotel, but this is a space for grown-ups — Le Stelsia is particularly welcoming to the LGBTQ community and is actively showcasing itself as an LGBTQ destination.

Understandably, this is a popular wedding venue — with a range of function spaces available to accommodate parties of any size.

Le Stelsia, France (image supplied)

The accommodation

The rooms at Le Stelsia are relaxed and comfortable, with the attention to detail that you’d expect from boutique accommodation.

We loved the balcony over-looking the extensive grounds, and the expanse of the well-appointed bathroom.

Le Stelsia, France (image supplied)
Shih-Ming Yao on the balcony of our room at Le Stelsia, France. Photo: Gareth Johnson

The food

The restaurants at Le Stelsia are overseen by chef Michel Vico. With both fine dining and more relaxed options available, the food at Le Stelsia was one of the highlights of our stay.

It was noticeable that the bistro restaurant was busy with locals from the surrounding region at both lunch and dinner.

Plus, breakfast was a real treat. A spectacular display of pastries, breads, fruits, and savoury options. We lingered over breakfast longer than we should have, but we were determined to try everything that was on offer.

Dining at Le Stelsia. Photo: Gareth Johnson
Dining at Le Stelsia. Photo: Gareth Johnson
Dining at Le Stelsia. Photo: Gareth Johnson

The swimming pool and spa

Le Stelsia has the feel of a true boutique resort — complete with an outdoor pool and a fully equipped spa.

Shih-Ming Yao by the pool at Le Stelsia, France. Photo: Gareth Johnson
Shih-Ming Yao by the pool at Le Stelsia, France. Photo: Gareth Johnson
Shih-Ming Yao in the spa at Le Stelsia, France. Photo: Gareth Johnson

Exploring the region

Le Stelsia is situated in the heart of the Lot et Garonne region — named after the two rivers that define the terrain.

Highlights include the medieval village of Penne d’Agenais, where the Notre-Dame de Peyragude Basilica looks out across the Lot valley.

Also nearby are the Bastides — the series of towns founded between 11th and 14th centuries which have retained their period buildings, ramparts, entrance gateways, and towers. Explore the town of Monflanquin — its half-timbered houses, main square, covered arcades, and little alley-ways are a unique glimpse into medieval architecture. Not far away is Gavaudun Castle, overlooking the wooded valley of the river Lēde.

Le Stelsia can provide you with a boat and a picnic so that you can head off along the river to explore at your own pace.

Bonaguil Castle (image supplied)