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A top notch hotel should boast a top notch restaurant, and when that restaurant is awarded a prestigious Michelin star you know you are staying somewhere special. So how about one that has just been awarded its third? The La Bouitte boutique hotel boasts a prime location in the beautiful enclave of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville in the Rhône-Alpes region of south-eastern France. Rather than being a hotel with an exceptional restaurant, this is an exceptional restaurant which has expanded to include a luxury hotel, and what an inspired decision that was.

A really family affair La Bouitte, which translated to ‘Little House’ in local Savoyard dialect, was created in 1976 with the purchase of a potato field. On here Rene and Marie-Louise Meilleur built their restaurant with the sole aim of creating a dining experience never before seen in the area. Their children joined them in the business in the 90’s, the restaurant expanded over the years to include guest rooms and the finally they realised their goal of building their dream chalet.

From the outside the building is a so visually appealing you cannot wait to get inside. Every inch has been designed by the family themselves and it is truly spectacular. The large, airy dining room with its use of wood and stone pillars gives way to a terrace where you can enjoy your fine dining experience al fresco style surrounded by the mountains.

The restaurant today is in the more than capable hands of René and his son Maxime, and the recently expanded dining room has been specifically designed to offer diners the best possible views of their stunning surroundings. Behind the scenes, the dynamic culinary duo are constantly creating new dishes based in their beloved Savoie cuisine with a touch of ingenuity thrown in for good measure. This results in the kind of dishes that look to good to eat, but when you do the taste manages to surpass the aesthetics.

As an introduction to La Bouitte René offers guests his surprise menu which makes the most of the local produce at the time and which gives you top quality fare with the element of surprise thrown in for good measure. The ‘initiation at LA Bouitte’ is available in either 3 or 4 courses and while ordering an unknown menu anywhere else may make you worry slightly, you certainly won’t do that here with those 3 stars as the most iron clad guarantee possible of the quality you will be served.

There is, of course, also a sublime menu to choose from, and no doubt you will peruse through this wondering what the Michelin people opted for! Superb starters, magnificent mains and delicious desserts make your time spent at La Bouitte a fine dining experience par excellence. We cannot ignore the wine list either, well, we say list that should be wine book. The choice of Champagnes alone will make astound you and if the choices of wines in this book were in an oenophile’s cellar he would be considered to be one of the world’s greatest connoisseurs on wine.

From start to finish your experience at La Bouitte is something to savour. Knowing you have a room booked for the night simply adds to the experience as you have all the time in the world to soak up the atmosphere. There aren’t many restaurants where you run out of superlatives to describe them, but La Bouitte is one of the favoured few.