A reader once described the Manoir d'Hautegente, a creeper-clad manor house as 'so good that I wouldn't tell you about it if it were not already in the guide'. The house, set in beautiful wooded grounds near Coly in the heart of the Perigord Noir, has been in the Hamelin family for about 300 years, and is now run by Patrick Hamelin and his wife Marie Josee. It was built as a forge in the 13thC, later became a mill (using the stream that runs beside it), was then embellished and turned into a family residence and was finally converted into a hotel - but with the feeling of a private house skilfully retained. Public rooms and the spacious, comfortable bedrooms are imaginatively decorated with family antiques and paintings.
  Dinner in the pretty vaulted dining room is a five-course affair - first-class cooking - which inevitably includes home-produced foie gras, another of the Hamelins' commercial successes. The present chef, Frederic Pilon, is a particular find. Wines are reasonably priced.
  In the pleasant grassy grounds there is a smart pool that gets plenty of sun. There is also a pond, and fishing is available on the local river. The Hamelins are natural hosts and a warm welcome awaits guests to their family home.