In the heart of the Ayas Valley in the Aosta region, almost completely obscured by the looming Col Du Joux Forest, you’ll find this lovingly-restored 17thC rascard (a traditional building made from local mountain softwood). The aesthetically pleasing Maison de Dolphe (named after one of the owner’s grandfathers) sits on the shores of the deep turquoise Lake Brusson, near the sleepy village of Les Cretes.
     When ambitious owners Nicole Borre and Gabriele Maquignaz bought de Dolphe, it was in a state of disrepair but they now offer four luxury self-catering suites and a shared living area and kitchen to guests, which they describe as a fusion of “elegance, charm, refinement and extreme luxury.” They also provide a continental breakfast.
     The owners have made imaginative and effective use of what their surroundings have to offer: the beautiful front door is made of restored 17thC walnut, whilst local timber is used in the interior of the suites to (mostly) good effect. Parts of the original structure have also been reinforced with concrete. These renovations, however, have done little to blunt the charm of this quaint 17thC building. Gabriele’s own Alpine-themed artworks add a personal touch to each room.
     The Maison de Dolphe does a clever job of blending old and new: while bathroom basins are carved from fossils, the best rooms have up-to-the-minute Wi-Fi, TV and coffee makers.
     Another feature of the Maison de Dolphe are the ‘relaxation’ services offered. Specially trained masseurs offer a range of treatments, from facials to lymph draining, at extra cost, of course.
     We don’t usually recommend self-catering, but the location and experience offered by the Maison de Dolphe make this something special.