Explore the glittering Côte d’Azur – home to the glamorous resort towns of Nice, Saint-Tropez and Cannes – from these chic Provence hotels.
Lavender fields make way for mountainside forests and views of the Mediterranean in Provence, located in south-eastern France. Stay in a traditional Belle Époque manor house or sip the region’s fine rosé in a celebrity haunt. Here’s our pick of the best boutique hotels in Provence.
Among the best boutique hotels in France, Saint-Tropez’s five-star Lou Pinet is all about traditional detail, right down to eschewing plastic entry cards in favour of clunky, unforgettable keys. Its 34 rooms revel in light from floor-to-ceiling windows, and feature custom-made items by Charles Zana, one of the two leading French architects responsible for the renovation (Côte d’Azur legend François Vieillecroze was his partner). Wander in gardens scented with pine, lavender and jasmine, rejuvenate in the spa, or loosen your belt for Black Angus or Wagyu steaks in the Beefbar restaurant.
At Nice’s friendly, informal Arôme Hotel, you’re given a free croissant from a local bakery every morning (for an extra fee, a continental breakfast is also available). Accommodation is spread over 11 contemporary rooms and suites, each featuring a statement wall of toile-style wallpaper. Industrial-chic touches are provided by black shelving units and subway tiles in the bathrooms. It doesn’t matter that there are no facilities on site; the bars and restaurants of the Promenade des Anglais are a five-minute walk away.
Couples visiting Aix-en-Provence couldn’t hope for a more romantic base than Hôtel Particulier Le 28. Its four suites and one double bedroom celebrate a 17th-century French conception of luxury, featuring silk curtains and drapings, Hungarian oak parquet floors and antiques that wouldn’t look out of place at a Sotheby’s auction. Enjoy cake in the doll’s-house tea room or peruse the ground-floor art gallery. The hotel also has an indoor pool, a gym and a tranquil garden in which breakfast, dinners, cocktails and cigars are served.
Life at the family-run Villa Cosy in Saint-Tropez revolves around its cellar. Visible through a glass floor in the Cosy Bar, it houses over 1,000 bottles of vintage and rare Grands Crus, locally made wines and fine champagnes. Accommodations overlook the pool and gardens, and even the smallest Privilege rooms have their own terraces. The larger suites and the six villas also have secluded gardens and direct pool access. The nearest of Saint-Tropez’s tiny beaches is a 10-minute walk away.
Le Mas Saint-Florent occupies an 18th-century château just outside Arles, one of southern France’s most-visited cities (it’s 15 minutes by car or a scenic 70-minute walk). Even better, it’s set in an 11ha (27-acre) park containing olive groves, cypress trees and a wild pond that attracts frogs and ducks. Suites feature a contemporary interpretation of Louis XV-style opulence, and most have views over the hotel’s surroundings. Dinner is cooked to order using seasonal ingredients from the garden and ranges from traditional French to Indian and Japanese.
La Bastide is housed in an 18th-century stately home on a hill overlooking Gordes, consistently designated one of France’s prettiest villages. Period elegance and refinement dominate every nook of the property, from toile wallpaper and parquet floors in the standard Classic Village doubles, to the heavy grandeur of the restaurant dining room. Soak up the beauty of the Luberon region from its huge terrace, or by booking yourself on one of the astronomer-led stargazing sessions.
Cannes’ Villa Garbo offers 12 stylish self-catering apartments in an 1880s mansion. Celebrated designer Christophe Tollemer pushed the budget in their creation, choosing furniture from Parisian house Mis en Demeure and decadent fabrics from Maison Frey. The apartments are serviced by a rooftop bar, spa and gym. Breakfast is served in-room, in the lounge or on the terrace. Meet other residents between 6pm and 8pm, when the drinks are free, before wandering down to Cannes’ iconic La Croisette promenade (15 minutes on foot).
The Hôtel du Cap in Antibes is legendary. Local resident F Scott Fitzgerald spent many an evening here, which formed the backdrop for his novel Tender Is the Night. Rita Hayworth met her real-life prince and future husband at Hôtel du Cap over dinner in the 1940s. It’s been a retreat on the Côte d’Azur for many celebrities since. Book one of their five-star villas for ultimate privacy and views over the glittering Riviera.
Opened in 1960, the glamorous Hôtel Byblos really arrived in 1971, when Mick Jagger and Bianca Pérez-Mora Macías stayed on their wedding night. Nowadays, its perennially fashionable accommodation displays a sharp, modern take on Provençal elegance. They range in size from double rooms to the two-bedroom Missoni Home Suite; all look out over the gardens and pool or Saint-Tropez. Ingredients from the hotel’s garden are showcased at on-site restaurants Arcadia and Cucina Byblos – Mediterranean and Italian specialists, respectively – and inventive cocktails are courtesy of poolside B Lounge.
The Tiara Yaktsa is found in the quaint village of Théoule-Sur-Mer, a half-hour drive southwest of Cannes. Spaces in which to absorb the Côte d’Azur sunshine include a private beach, pool and typical Provençal garden, full of shaded walkways and romantic corners. Sample seasonal tasting menus by Michelin-star chef Alain Montigny at L’Or Bleu, or some of Provence’s finest fish and seafood at Le Moya. Pierre Cardin’s surreal Bubble House (Palais Bulles) is one of the village’s key architectural attractions and is easily reached on foot.
Paired with its sister hotel in Paris, Hôtel Sezz offers the same level of luxury in Saint-Tropez. Each of the 37 minimalist lodges is designed to be light and airy; luxuriate in your very own outdoor cascade shower and enjoy cocktails brought to your door. If you feel up to it, take a dip in the pool or book a treatment at the Sezz by Cinq Mondes Spa. Don’t miss the culinary delights from Michelin-star chef Philippe Colinet in the Colette restaurant.
Set on 10ha (25 acres) of countryside, Château de la Messardière occupies a 19th-century mansion, just 2km (1.2mi) from Saint-Tropez. Enjoy Japanese cuisine poolside at lunchtime, followed by dinner at L’Auberge des Maures, a traditional Provençal restaurant previously frequented by Brigitte Bardot and Charlie Chaplin. Hop in a Mini Moke or Rolls Royce Cullinan and you’ll be scooted down to Jardin Tropézina, the hotel’s private beach. There are also abundant activities for kids – from the private cinema to the supervised teen-hangout villa.
Situated under the Sainte-Victoire mountain just outside of Aix-en-Provence, this stylish spa resort has everything you need for a luxurious holiday. Two pools, a sleek spa and contemporary rooms offer a tranquil escape from the bustle of Aix-en-Provence. Artist Paul Cézanne painted over 80 works of art of the neighbouring mountain. Book a table at the on-site Michelin-star restaurant, Le Saint Estève, where you can try the local rosé wines.
Château La Coste is first and foremost an exceptional vineyard, producing red and rosé of outstanding organic quality. It also offers a top gastronomic experience with three gourmet restaurants, plus outdoor art installations by Tracey Emin, Frank Gehry and Ai Weiwei. Villa La Coste is the hotel on site with 28 unique suites, some including their own private pool. Tour the vineyard, enjoy a guided art tour or book a flight over the lavender fields in a hot air balloon.
This is an updated version of an article originally written by Alex Ledsom.
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