More than 3,000 miles divide the Bay State from the gardens of Giverny, but a new destination is hoping to bridge that gap, evoking the luxury of a French country estate in Plymouth. It’s a town where the tourist industry is admittedly more apt to bring to mind buckle hats than berets, but Mirbeau Inn & Spa aims to set a transporting tone before you even step foot inside: A chanteuse’s recorded crooning sounds from speakers hidden within the greenery as you approach the Manor House’s front door.
A little sibling of the original Mirbeau in Skaneateles, New York, the property takes its name from Octave-Henri-Marie Mirbeau, a Belle Époque art critic who championed the likes of Claude Monet. Hence the Impressionist-style paintings that appear throughout the inn; one featuring Monet’s famed water lilies greets you at check-in. Peer through the windows in the lobby bistro, and you’ll see the painting come to life in the tranquil gardens, where a green footbridge gracefully arcs over lily-padded ponds and a fire pit glows by night.
Priced from $199 to $620 nightly, the 50 guest rooms likewise have French accents, from the “Shhh… s’il vous plait” door hangers to the minibar macarons. Many rooms boast patios overlooking the Monet-inspired gardens—a perfect place to perch with a glass of room service rosé—and while the Toile de Jouy curtains depict 18th-century pastoral scenes, the comforts are modern, with walk-in rainfall showers, deep soaking tubs and gas fireplaces flanked by cozy seating.
The accommodations are divided between the Manor House and the adjoining Guest House, connected by a rustic covered bridge. But wherever you stay, you’ll want to pay a visit to the Manor House’s ground-floor spa, a 14,000-square-foot oasis appointed with thoughtful details—treatment rooms’ heated massage tables are lit by the flicker of fireplaces, and chilled cucumber-scented cloths wait outside the eucalyptus steam room in the expansive locker areas. With its grand columns and frescoes of bathing beauties, there’s a Roman feel to the resting area, which offers 13 chaises circling a heated foot massage pool. There’s also a nail salon, a blowout bar and a state-of-the-art fitness center offering classes and private instruction in everything from Pilates and yoga to golf conditioning and cycling. But you’d hardly be blamed for simply lazing at the year-round outdoor Aqua Terrace, where iridescent tiles shimmer in the hot plunge whirlpool and a wellness bar serves up cocktails and light bites, such as a grapefruit and rose petal salad or a cheese plate garnished with honey from executive chef Stephen Coe’s own hives.
Heartier sustenance awaits in Mirbeau’s two restaurants, both helmed by Coe, whom locals may know from his previous post at BOKX 109 American Prime in Newton’s Hotel Indigo. The more casual Bistro & Wine Bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Note: The “boulangerie” to-go option at breakfast isn’t complimentary, as you might expect from the self-serve format, but the mini-quiche is well worth it.) The elegant Henri-Marie, meanwhile, serves dinner Wednesday through Saturday evenings in a gleaming white space modeled after a 19th-century chapel outside of Paris. It’s here that Coe flexes his culinary muscle with painterly platings that’d do Auguste Escoffier proud; one early September feast included lobster sauced with a vivid corn puree, its flavor as bright as a summer’s day distilled, alongside housemade gnocchi and an artful daub of rich chanterelle confit. The menu offers three-, five- and seven-course tastings—a format rarely seen on the South Shore, which perhaps explains why a recent Friday saw only two tables filled while the bistro buzzed with activity. However, a la carte options will be added by Oct. 1, which should help broaden Henri-Marie’s appeal beyond special-occasion dining. But special it is, down to the handwritten note from the chef and jewel-like confections that welcome Henri-Marie patrons back to their freshly turned-down rooms after dinner.
Opened in late June, Mirbeau is located in the Pinehills, an award-winning planned community with its own post office, grocery and dentist. It’s an unexpected setting for this kind of retreat, but the location does grant access to two 18-hole championship golf courses. And any incongruity is offset by the genuine warmth of the staff, from the porter who greets you in the parking lot to grab your bags to the server who brims with enthusiasm for the chef, whom she’d worked with at a Plymouth trattoria years before—service that helps sustain the fantasy of a luxe European escape, less than an hour’s drive from Boston.
Keep an eye on Mirbeau’s new Literary Luncheon series, a partnership with Duxbury’s Westwinds Bookshop. The Sept. 30 kickoff featured authors Nicole Bernier, Patry Francis, Marianne Leone and Randy Susan Meyers (whose novel Accidents of Marriage is reviewed in this issue).
Plimoth Plantation is less than a 15-minute drive from Mirbeau and not just fun for kids. Check out its just-opened Plimoth Bread Company, home to an Oxford-educated baker/historian and centuries-old recipes.
Mirbeau Inn & Spa at the Pinehills 35 Landmark Drive, Plymouth (877-647-2328) mirbeau.com/pinehills