Overlooking the sea, rising high above the Sentier des Douaniers, Brittany’s beloved coastal footpath, the Manoir de Lan-Kerellec exudes a joie de vivre born of love and longevity.
Pauline Daubé is the third generation to hold the keys to this hotel, the fifth to keep the family property thriving on Brittany’s Pink Granite Coast, where hospitality is a way of life.
“Welcome to my family home!” says the bubbly Pauline Daubé with a broad smile. Her warmth radiates wall-to-wall in rooms brimming with happy memories. Overlooking the water in Trébeurden, a discreet seaside resort, the Manoir de Lan-Kerellec hotel has that stately tranquility of properties that have withstood the test of time. Crafted in the early 1900s from blocks of local stone, it was first a live-in workshop for painter Pierre Gervais before it changed hands. “My great-grandfather bought it in 1925 and my grandmother turned it into a seven-room hotel in 1968. Then my parents, Luce and Gilles Daubé, took over and, a year later, the Manoir joined Relais & Châteaux. That was in 1982. The establishment has grown since then,” says Pauline, who left a promising career at L’Oréal to take the helm here in 2014, at the age of 31.
Though her father guided her first steps as an innkeeper, she already knew every nook and cranny of this inn, the place she’d lived until her teens. During the annual winter closure, with no travelers on the property, the place became a fabulous playground for youngsters – memorable games of hide-and-seek, laughter issuing from behind and beneath sheet-covered furniture.
Later, to earn pocket money, Pauline helped her parents at the hotel, cleaning rooms, delivering room service, manning the front desk – every job except the kitchens. Unbeknown to her at the time, she was attending the finest hotel management school available. “I remember my mother always saying, ‘Before you ask someone to do something, you must do it yourself.’ And she learned that lesson. Her mother also passed on to her daughter an attention to detail and a passion for bouquets of white flowers, which grace the premises to this day, not to mention a taste – and flair – for the art of hospitality.
Each generation has made its aesthetic mark on the house and these are fiercely preserved. In the 18 rooms, all but one facing the sea, the varying styles compose a harmonious visual symphony as touching as a family photo album. Between the old dressers, a chair revamped with daring leopard-print upholstery, and paintings by artist Émile Daubé, Pauline adds her more contemporary style in a mix of materials, like linen and velvet in shades of powder pink.
No two rooms are alike and every morning here is unique. On this particular day, early morning, the English Channel has receded far away with the tide. A carpet of sand stretches out to Île Milliau, an island of moors and gorse beyond the pink rocks, beckoning you to venture over. Its neighbor, Île Molène, is still surrounded by water. This striking sight must be captured, and quickly, for the very next moment, the sky and sea will weave a completely different coastal tapestry.
At dusk, you’ll find a magnificent sunset painted on the celestial canvas. Entering the restaurant, the eye is immediately drawn to this spectacle through the vast bay window – until it is distracted by the mind-boggling woodwork overhead. The ceiling is the product of Les Compagnons du Devoir, a French organization of craftspeople and artisans dating from the Middle Ages. The structure resembles an inverted boat hull, an architecture found in certain Breton chapels. The menu, however, is the handiwork of young Anthony Avoine, who has led the venue to become a Michelin one-star restaurant, with a skilful mélange of ocean treasures and local land-based specialties. “Everything is sourced from local producers,” says Pauline, proud of Chef Avoine’s achievements.
So, what might Pauline’s dreams be now? “Keeping the spirit of the place alive.” And she makes that dream come true: this hotel most decidedly has the soul of a vacation home waiting for new memories to be made. Like the moment when, in the small, deserted cove two minutes from the Manoir, perched on a rock facing the sea, the sun warms your right cheek and the breeze caresses your left, carrying the sounds of the surf to your ears. Happiness is often found in the simplicity of life.