This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.
‘Quick, take this – and read it later,’ urged the gentleman, slipping a note under my croissant.
Then, with a wistful look, he picked up his cases, wove through the lobby and was gone for ever. I didn’t come to this boutique hotel in St Tropez to have an affair. In fact, I hadn’t even noticed my fellow guest, let alone encouraged him to pass me a love letter when Mr Smith wasn’t looking. But hey, that’s St Tropez for you. Something about the sun-drenched, A-list ambience makes people do crazy things, I guess. Obviously it’s tempting to proffer mystery man’s hand-written love poem (‘If you were a bird, I’d want you in my sky...’ and so on) as an analogy for the romantic, poetical virtues of our hotel. But Pastis is way too cool for such a chick-lit cop-out.
Arriving late, drenched from a freak Mediterranean storm, we’re ushered into our room in a whirl of umbrellas, howling winds and rain-battered pastel shutters. Pulling billowing curtains – and dressing gowns – tightly together, Mr Smith and I are happy to be tucked in for the night. It’s only upon waking to a turquoise-infused St Tropez light that we see this hotel for what it is: total design heaven. Art is everywhere at Pastis. Splashes of colour from framed canvases hit us between the eyes as we spiral our way down the staircase to breakfast. ‘That’s a Hockney,’ nudges Mr Smith, as we take our table in the lobby and breathe in the coffee fumes from the huge silver Gaggia behind the bar. Nibbling on pistachio and hazelnut bruschetta and sitting on basketweave chairs, it’s just the two of us, though a murmuring from the terrace tells us fellow guests are nearby – next to the outdoor pool, steaming in the morning air. Yes, the sea view from our table is interrupted by a road (the hotel is on the route into St Tropez), but we spy waves over our mini pain au raisin, so who cares?
Walking through the hotel, a 360-degree melange of dazzling design pieces in a pastel-cool French setting, we look up and clock the owners’ rock ’n’ roll side, ie: a framed Sex Pistols LP over the bar telling us to Never Mind The Bollocks. Having swapped the London lifestyle for St Tropez, Pauline and John have stamped their personalities all over this place. Ex-graphic designers turned retail designers (they were responsible for rebranding one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets a few years back, they inform us), they know what they like, and everything is just so. A Lichtenstein print here, a collection of pastis jugs there – we could feel St Tropez chic running through the hotel, with a distinct underlay of London know-how.
Eyeing the hotel’s palm-fringed pool, we decide to head Tropezwards before making the most of promising mercury fluctuations. St Tropez is tiny. Craning, portside, to view the fibreglass monster yachts, to Mr Smith’s horror I manage to trip, almost acrobatically, over a huge electricity cable. Stumbling into the path of a man wearing a blindingly white suit being filmed at the waterfront, I’m thankful that no one yells or yanks me away. Dignity dashed (and praying I won’t end up the butt
of some comedy out-take), we head past the gleaming mega-vessels and on up to the main square, the Place des Lices. A jumble of dusty boules games and cafe?s, it’s worlds away from the ostentatiously OTT bars and boats below at the port. It’s the St Tropez behind St Tropez – metaphorically and literally.
Popping into famed La Tarte Trope?zienne, we pick up some pistachio-sprinkled tarte aux pommes for later, resisting the risotto in favour of our so-touristy-but-so-what lunch reservation at Cafe? de Paris. Perched on plushly upholstered chairs beneath lavish chandeliers, we feel distinctly uptown, hanging out at this iconic beast. In the company of a pipe-smoking sailing fraternity and stiffly coiffed dames who’ve seen too much sun, we dine on succulent sushi, cre?me caramel and nerve-jangingly strong coffee. Then, as I promise Mr Smith it’s safe to go back to the scene of the love-letter crime, we head back to Pastis.
Distressed Louis XV decor and a chrome ceiling fan with the proportions of a plane propeller welcome us back at the room; then a hammered-silver platter of Co?te? Bastide products tempts us to soak in bubbles for an hour. Outside, as guests drape themselves on rustic poolside seats next to twinkling twilight candles, and a group of guys start sinking Dom Pe?rignon at the zinc bar, the sky turns an indigo-blue colour across the bay and out towards the mountains.
Later on, watching a gaggle of WAG types totter out of a black limo and straight onto the black-sand floor of yacht-side bar Le Quai Joseph, we pop into Hotel Sube for our before-bed cocktail. You either have to sharpen your elbows or bribe the barman to nab a table on Sube’s balcony (the best viewpoint in St Tropez, we reckon). We did neither but still somehow managed to score a table. In a world where Dior dominates cafe? culture and stilettos strut the beaches, chalky-toned Hotel Pastis is a serene break. It doesn’t try too hard, it just is – a pastel-shuttered heaven after the hot Tropezian hustle. And hey, there’s even the prospect of being propositioned by fountain pen under your partner’s nose at the breakfast table. If you’re very lucky.
Anonymously reviewed by Charlotte Crisp (Magazine maestro)
Whenever you book a stay at a Mr & Mrs Smith, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what real-life guests had to say in Hotel Pastis's guestbook below.
The hotel had a relaxed atmosphere; the décor was elegant and very stylish. Staff were charming and extremely helpful. It was a lovely escape from a hectic lifestyle.
Melanie, BlackSmith stayed on 14 Oct 2013
Lovely atmosphere and decor.
Sarah, SilverSmith stayed on 27 May 2013