The drive to the village of Sare is breathtaking: winding road, red and white farmhouses, rolling hills. The hotel, which dominates Sare’s square, has been in the family for three generations; it was a salon de thé after the war (and the ‘gâteau Basque’ is still delectable). Lawned terraces are the new gardens, a lap pool is planned, and the views of La Rhune tempt you to catch the mountain train. Pass the dappled dining terrace and the little shop (Basque linen, Basque pottery, homemade jam) to enter a double-glazed haven, overseen by smiling Madame. Two salons greet you – charming furniture, overstuffed sofas, a bar full of armagnacs, flowers from the garden. Upstairs, across two floors, with fire doors encased in handsome oak, are 16 bedrooms, sumptuous and serene, the quietest facing the garden. We loved the chests of drawers topped with old jugs and basins, the impeccable beds, the hand-sewn soft furnishings. Splash out on a ‘prestige’ suite if you can: the bathrooms are magnificent. Lovely Saint-Jean-de-Luz and its harbour are 12km, the hiking is marvellous, the beaches are close.