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Burgundy's Grand Dame

The Perfect Cup

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Tonga Room, San Francisco.

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The Perfect Pour

Wine and Spirits

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The Cummings family, owners of the terrific Amberley Castle hotel in West Sussex, England, have brought their very British take on histoire to France. Abbaye de la Bussière is a 12th-century Cistercian monastery in the middle of the pristine Burgundy countryside, two hours from Paris and a half hour from some of France's finest vineyards. The family bought it last year from the Dijon archbishop, then shored up the Gothic arches and cloistered ceilings, dusted off the gargoyles above the doorways, and unearthed such treasures as 19th-century frescoes. Perhaps more impressively, the new owners have managed to introduce a measure of British coziness to all this medieval gravitas. Plump sofas and four-poster beds dressed in frilly linens soften up the collection of period antiques; whirlpool bathtubs and entertainment systems bring in the modern world where it matters most. Of the nine rooms, the four on the first floor are the grandest; the five upstairs, where the ceiling is slanted, are charming but a bit less flooded with light. The family plans on adding a few more rooms and may put a swimming pool in the meticulously kept gardens—though we're not sure they should. The stream, waterfall, and miniature lake need no accompaniment. From $280 to $440. At La Bussière-sur-Ouche; 33-3/ 80-49-02-29;


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