Île de Ré, France

Hôtel de Toiras

Price per night from$346.93

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR336.36), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

The quay, the secret

Setting

French Atlantic isle

On the quayside of Île de Ré’s idyllic Saint-Martin port, Hotel de Toiras is a breezy base for cycling trips to this entirely flat isle’s remote villages and beaches. Bright, antique-dotted rooms fan off the hotel’s 11th-century tower or fringe its leafy courtyard garden, but it’s all centred on George’s, the hotel’s restaurant, cocktail bar and wine cellar, stocked with the owner’s lip-smacking Château Clarisse.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

€50 to spend at George’s restaurant

Facilities

Photos Hôtel de Toiras facilities

Need to know

Rooms

18, including nine suites.

Check–Out

12 noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £313.18 (€370), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.30 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates don’t usually include breakfast, but for €32 each you can start the day with a basket of pastries, artisanal honey, organic jams and yoghurt, fresh coffee and a selection of Mariage Frères teas.

Also

It’s wise to have your wheels organised before arrival, and for this purpose the hotel has partnered with one of the island’s best rental shops, YooToo. Book through the hotel and get 10 per cent off your bike hire.

Hotel closed

The hotel closes each year from December to February.

At the hotel

Quayside terrace, restaurant, cocktail bar, wine cellar, courtyard garden. In rooms: free WiFi, minibar, air-conditioning.

Our favourite rooms

Didier Le Calvez and his wife Olivia have recently refreshed all guestrooms with carefully chosen, locally discovered antiques, and coupled with gentle hues such as pastel purple, marigold or royal blue and some original stone fireplaces, it all makes for a genteel atmosphere. The George Washington presidential suite (the Founding Father’s ancestors were from Île de Ré) has that added touch of refinement thanks to leather easy chairs and a reading nook in the tower, plus an enormous separate lounge overlooking the harbour.

Spa

There’s no spa here, but Hotel de Toiras shares the services of the in-house team at nearby Villa Clarisse, who specialise in face and body treatments. Treatment rooms and a sauna are being installed at Villa Clarisse, too, in time for summer 2023.

Packing tips

Don’t expect many Lycra-clad Tour de France wannabes here – the bikes most people borrow come with low crossbars and baskets, but do bring an outfit that you’ll be comfortable riding in for several hours a day. And dust off your GCSE French (or top up on Duolingo); it’ll be more than welcomed here.

Also

Hotel de Toiras is in a historic building with only some rooms at ground level and some slightly-less-than-wheelchair-friendly steps and doorways, plus there are cobbles in the vicinity of the quayside, meaning this isn’t particularly accessible.

Pet‐friendly

Pooches up to 10kg are welcome for a fee of €40 each. See more pet-friendly hotels in Île de Ré.

Children

The island is geared up for families, with beaches earmarked as child-friendly and lots of French and other European visitors using the island for their summer-holiday break – it’s a good idea to work out what the dates are for these.

Best for

Hotel de Toiras welcomes all children, with those aged 12 and over considered an adult. There’s no kids’ club or creche to speak of but babysitting and nanny services can be provided for an extra fee – the amount depending on the day and season.

Food and Drink

Photos Hôtel de Toiras food and drink

Top Table

Inside, there’s a table for two opposite the kitchen and against the huge window overlooking the quayside terrace, which is top spot for sunset. Outside, take your pick from the row of comfy cane sofas under the parasols.

Dress Code

Blend in with the locals by sporting white jeans, boat shoes and a Breton shirt.

Hotel restaurant

George’s restaurant, named after the owners’ son (who spent a recent summer honing his skills here in the kitchen), doubles as the light-filled breakfast room and, later, as a cocktail bar. Chefs can be seen busy at work behind the low partition, but your gaze will likely be drawn towards those huge windows, which provide the town’s finest vantage over the harbour. Here, too, is the terrace that puts you among the gentle hubbub of summer-evening strollers. The menu is modern but with a strong regional focus: half-baked red tuna, macaron vinaigrette and cucumber; exquisite lobster pasta; Atlantic pollock with a saffron-infused marinara sauce; locally reared lamb with spinach and roast potatoes. Leave room for the eye-wateringly alcoholic rum baba or the peach melba served Île-de-Ré style. 

Hotel bar

Take a seat on one of the high stools surrounding the Blue Note bar and its Calacatta marble counter. Here, friendly staff will mix you cocktails precisely to your taste, or pour you another glass of Didier’s Château Clarisse.

Last orders

George’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and will adjust its opening times for your convenience. The Blue Note bar opens 6pm–11pm.

Room service

Order anything from the menu at George’s and have it brought to your room between 7am and 10pm.

Location

Photos Hôtel de Toiras location
Address
Hôtel de Toiras
33 Avenue Victor Bouthillier
Saint-Martin-de-Ré
17410
France

Saint-Martin-de-Ré is the principal town of Île de Ré, a very flat, peaceful, 30-kilometre-long island off La Rochelle on France’s Atlantic Coast, reachable by crossing the impressive concrete curve of Île de Ré bridge.

Planes

La Rochelle Airport is just across the water, with flights arriving from major cities throughout Europe. The relatively new bridge means you can be on the island in around 15 minutes by taxi.

Trains

It’s roughly three hours by train from Paris Gare du Nord to La Rochelle railway station. From there, the hotel can arrange a transfer (€120 one way), or you can take a cab or bus, although beware that the bus stops at every village on the island and doesn’t actually enter the ancient walls of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, instead stopping near a car park just outside.

Automobiles

There are vehicles on the island but the preferred mode of transport by virtually everyone is bicycle (even dogs are towed in little carriages by their cyclist owners).

Other

The arrival of the bridge in 1988 effectively ended the need for a ferry to the island from La Rochelle, but you can take a boat trip to hop between other Atlantic isles and the nearby Fort Boyard, the 19th-century fortification made famous by the eponymous game show.

Worth getting out of bed for

A well-marked lattice of cycle paths through salt marshes (the un-manned salt wagons at their perimeter work on an honesty-bar basis), vineyards and pine forest link the popular (as well as less visited) beaches with the handful-or-so sleepy villages on this entirely level, 30-kilometre-long island, and every few miles you’ll be tempted to dismount at the copious little oyster shacks lining the routes. In fact, few places are more geared up for the dual pleasures of cycling and oyster-quaffing than Île de Ré. Hotel de Toiras has partnered with YooToo, an excellent rental cabin (where you’ll get 10 per cent off), from which you can choose push bike or e-bike, with or without baskets.

The hotel is set in the island’s principal town, Saint-Martin-de-Ré, the entrance into which is through the ornate Portes des Campani and whose sea-lapped 17th-century ramparts were designed by Vauban and make for a pleasant after-dinner stroll. Pay a visit to the Ernest Cognacq Museum at the far end of town for more local-history tidbits. Grab a packed lunch of warm baguettes, local cheese, lamb stew or garlicky herring salad from the town’s covered market. Or, for an eye-popping prototype of the mediaeval marché of your dreams, head to the neighbouring port town of La Flotte. We could spend an entire day at bountiful La Flotte market sampling the suckling pig, salted fish, potato salad and other treats entirely unique to this corner of France. Expect queues at the shops around its perimeter, too, such as for bread and pastries at Boulangerie Feuillette.

With your bike basket bursting with cheese and baguettes, you’re ready to pedal proudly to the beach. To the south, beyond the village of Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré, lies the lengthy, fairly popular Plage des Gollandières. To the west, through the cheerful labyrinth of salt marshes, is the quiet village of Loix and its wind-sheltered Plage du Grouin. As is often the case with beaches, you’ll be rewarded the further you go. It’s a day’s very pleasant cycling to and from the island’s north-east peninsula where you’ll find some of Île de Ré’s finest, and most desolate: Plage de Trousse-Chemise and Plage de la Patache being the most appealing – as well as Le Phare de Ré, a historic lighthouse and by far the island’s tallest viewing platform (very little else reaches higher than two storeys).

If you fancy a break from the isle’s quietude, you can always hop over the bridge for lunch or dinner in La Rochelle, whose quaint, restaurant-and-bar-lined harbour has the feel of a metropolis compared to the willful sleepiness of Île de Ré.

Local restaurants

Around the corner from Hotel de Toiras, in a courtyard opposite a cinema (which itself looks like the set in a film from la nouvelle vague), is Le Tout de Cru, which is what heaven surely looks like if you prefer your fish fishy and your crustaceans piled high on silver platters lined with seaweed. Across the quay is Bistrot du Marin, serving entrecôte and filet de boeuf with cured sausage, tuna rillettes, tomate burratina and oysters (natch). It’s loved by locals for its friendly staff and comprehensive drinks menu.

Bring the kids to get their fingers messy at Ben-Hur for simple dishes such as crevettes and grilled sardines served to you under an awning at unfussy plastic tables. Cycle out of town along the sea wall and the first oyster shack you’ll find is the sea-facing Ré Ostréa, whose easygoing atmosphere and plate after plate of crustaceous goodies might force you to re-think your plans for the day. Inland, another fine oyster layover is La Cabane du Feneau, which opens for lunch only, serves its fruits de mer in wicker baskets, and is worth booking in advance.

If you are heading to the island’s north-west, make a pit stop in the agreeable port town of Ars-en-Ré, with its fine church tower, Clocher d'Ars-en-Ré, and a cobbled square on which you’ll find Crêperie L'Océane. You won’t be disappointed by its chantilly cream and Grand Marnier masterpiece.

Reviews

Photos Hôtel de Toiras reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this quayside hotel in Saint-Martin-de-Ré and unpacked their pouch of ‘white gold’ (aka salt) and souvenir oyster shell, a full account of their peaceful, Gallic escape will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Hotel de Toiras in Île de Ré…

Those who know Île de Ré, know. Most of them are Parisians, brought here as children by their parents, and continuing the annual tradition with their own families. It’s one you’ll just as happily fall in step with, too: each year, making your way over the arcing concrete curve of Île de Ré bridge just outside La Rochelle and onto this blissful isle of windswept saltmarshes, wild beaches and oyster shacks. Villages here all follow the same idyllic pattern: tiny populations living in serenity under terracotta-tiled roofs and behind doors and window shutters that according to conservation rules must be painted one of four subtle shades of ocean green.

That conservation programme was put in place by an island grande dame and current resident whose son, Didier Le Calvez, made that same yearly pilgrimage in adolescence. This ambitious young man grew up to become one of the world’s most acclaimed hotel managers, was duly knighted, and has now returned to own and run Hotel de Toiras and its sister property, Villa Clarisse, on his childhood island. Hotel de Toiras is the more social of the two, with a quayside spot in Saint Martin, the island’s prettiest town overlooking the yachts, the 17th-century ramparts, and the setting sun.

Price per night from $346.93

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