St Tropez stay Hôtel Lou Pinet is a picture of Sixties' glamour, blessed with retro-styled rooms, a pool worthy of postcards and gardens that are perfumed by citrus and pine. A few minutes’ drive from the centre of St Tropez, the hotel resembles a cluster of Provençal houses, each with rustic stone walls, wooden shutters and terracotta-tiled roofs. Inside, interior designer Charles Zana has channeled nostalgia of a different sort, dressing the rooms with tactile fabrics, hand-painted ceramics and artwork that recalls the bold palette of the mid-Sixties. Speaking of colour, your room will overlook either the turquoise-tiled pool or the verdant gardens, shaped by celebrated landscaper Jean Mus. Restaurateur Riccardo Giraudi brings his renowned Beefbar brand to the restaurant; green-beauty queen Tata Harper is behind the sleek spa.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £450.33 (€525), 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.
Rates include buffet breakfast, a Continetal spread with fresh fruit salad and compote; flaky pastries and fresh bread; cereals and bircher muesli with an array of toppings; and various gourmet cold cuts.
You may find that the gardens seem oddly familiar – or at least recall old photographs taken in parks and gardens along the Côte d’Azur. The reason for this has a lot to do with their designer, Jean Mus, who has been the go-to landscaper in these parts for decades, quite literally shaping our idea of what a quintessential Riviera garden looks like.
At the hotel
Manicured gardens; free shuttle service to Pampelonne beach; gym; free WiFi; laundry service. In rooms: flatscreen TV; minibar; tea and coffee kit; free bottled water; Le Labo bath products (and Jacadi toiletries for children).
Our favourite rooms
Even the entry-level rooms are flooded with daylight and have views of the Provençal gardens or pool. We’d ask for a room with a private gardens or a furnished terrace, giving you a private spot for morning coffees and sunset cocktails. If you’re aiming for all-out indulgence, book the Luxury Suite, which has a sprawling roof terrace and stellar sunset views.
The largest of any hotel in St Tropez, the pool sits pride of place in the centre of the gardens. Clad in turquoise tiles and surrounded by a terrace of honey-coloured stone, it looks exactly as you want a pool in Provence to look – saying nothing of the loungers and parasols, which sport a nostalgic candy cane-esque livery.
The small but mighty Tata Harper spa is hidden away at the bottom of the garden. Launching her business in 2010, Harper was a pioneer in the world of natural cosmetics, developing her range of toxin-free beauty products from her farm in Vermont. Here, her creations are paired with a full range of signature treatments developed in line with her philosophy. There are two treatment rooms (one of which can be used for couple’s treatments), a hammam and a gym with skylights. A personal trainer can create a tailor-made programme for you, and yoga classes can be held in the fragrant garden.
Bring a straw beach basket, forever associated with Riviera royalty like Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. It’ll also make a fine prop for impromptu photoshoots…
All of the public areas are wheelchair accessible, and there are two adapted rooms.
We’re particularly fond of the tables beneath the pines, but it’s also well worth asking for one that faces the sunset.
Take inspiration from the palettes of Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy and Paul Signac, all of whom spent time in St Tropez.
The restaurant is an outpost of Riccardo Giraudi’s Beefbar, which has already set up shop in some of the world’s most glamorous cities – Monte Carlo, Paris and Rome among them. Here, the restaurant is very much in tune with the rest of the hotel, sporting a rustic thatched roof, terracotta floor, rattan chairs and walls covered in a vibrant mural by local artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet. The seating spills out onto a large terrace, where tables overlook the pool or are tucked between shade-giving pines. As you’d expect, the heart of the menu is given over to premium cuts of meat, including Kobe, Black Angus and Wagyu beef. If you’re after something a little lighter, the fish is an equally enticing prospect – options include grilled Chilean sea bass, yellowtail sashimi and tuna tiradito.
There are two: one in the restaurant and a second on the terrace, which becomes particularly atmospheric once night falls and the garden is lit up by fairy lights and lanterns. There’s a list of excellent cocktails and wines, but the barmen are also happy to go off menu for those who know what they like.
Breakfast is served from 7am to noon; lunch from noon to 6pm; dinner from 7pm to 11pm. The bar is open from 7am to 12.30am; bar snacks are served from 6pm to 10pm.
Room service is available around the clock. From 10am to 11pm, you can order select dishes from the restaurant menu such as dry aged beef prosciutto, ortzi tuna belly and steamed sea bream. A reduced night-time menu is served from 11pm to 7am.
Hôtel Lou Pinet is on a quiet residential street just outside the centre of St Tropez. The beach is a few minutes’ drive away.
If you’re coming from outside of France, Nice Côte d'Azur Airport is the best place to touch down. You can catch direct flights from London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester; in the summer season, there are direct flights from New York JFK. It takes around 90 minutes to drive from the airport; the hotel can arrange private transfers for €290 each way.
You won’t need your own set of wheels if you’re sticking strictly to St Tropez, but having a car will make it easier to get to nearby beaches and explore the hilly hinterland. The hotel offers valet parking – in a secure underground car park – for €40 a night.
Helicopters flit between Nice Côte d'Azur Airport and St Tropez in just 20 minutes.
Worth getting out of bed for
The pacifying trinity of Provençal sun, chirping cicadas and the scent of citrus trees should be more than enough to coax you out of bed in the morning. After breakfast, go for a wander through the shady gardens, top up your tan by the pool or book in some pamper time at the Tata Harper spa, where all the products are strictly toxin-free. If you’re looking for a laid-back pastime that can be played with a pastis in hand, head to the small gravel square to try your hand at petanque, the Provençal version of boules. The aim of the game is to get the hollow metal balls as close to the small wooden ball (the cochonnet) as possible. Aim to play just before sundown, when your game will be washed in the light of the golden hour.
Sea and sand are easily reached by way of the hotel’s shuttles, which can ferry you to and from the northern end of Pampelonne, home to St Tropez’s oldest beach club, Tahiti, which has been serving well-heeled holidaymakers since the Fifties. An alternative is the plage de la Bouillabaisse beyond the old port, which tends to be slightly less busy. Be sure to stop at the port on your way back into town, where you’ll find inviting waterfront restaurants that are perfect for leisurely lunches. If you want to escape the sun for a while, peruse Le Musée de l’Annonciade, which claims to be the first modern art gallery in France. The collection is made up of work by prominent artists that once called St Tropez home, including pointillist Paul Signac and his eminent friend Henri Matisse. The Quai Jean-Jaurès is the place for sundowners and people watching; Sénequier is a classic spot, standing out a mile away thanks to its bright-red livery. If you're in town on a Tuesday or Saturday, don’t miss the market at the Place de Lices, where you’ll find traders selling everything from antiques to artisanal olive oil.
Hidden away at the bottom of the citadelle, Clandestino lives up to its name once you see the tunnel-like dining room, which could easily be the meeting place of some secretive sect. In reality, this Italian eatery will welcome you with open arms, before plying you with fine wines, antipasti and tender beef tagliatelle. For dinner, try Au Caprice des Deux, which has garnered an army of loyal patrons who visit year after year. Chef Stéphane Avelin gives rustic Pronveçal dishes a fine-dining finish, adding in a few contemporary flourishes along the way. Book ahead for one of the tables outside in the cobbled lane. Perhaps the most famous resort town in the world, St Tropez has no shortage of options for a splurge, and one worthy contender is La Vague d’Or. Chef Arnaud Donckele (and his team of 33 cooks) create menus that take you on a journey through Provence, always building from the region’s rustic roots.
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 Sixties-inspired hotel in St Tropez and unpacked their black Dior sunglasses, a full account of their luxury Côte d’Azur break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Hôtel Lou Pinet in St Tropez…
It’s well known that the Cote d'Azur’s golden age got going at the dawn of the 20th century, when artists, writers and the rest of the creative avant garde began assembling in the towns and villages along the coast, bringing a salon atmosphere to the sumptuous villas that sprang up on the best plots. But the Cote d’Azur of the Fifties and Sixties had just as much glamour as the one described by F Scott Fitzgerald, in part because its most famous figures – Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and so on – were all immortalised in 35mm film. It’s this silver-screen age that Hôtel Lou Pinet channels, and in doing so brings something new to the world’s most famous resort town.
The hotel’s real triumph is that does this while managing to remain low key – as all the best Provençal hotels should be. The buildings are charmingly rustic, the rooms are stylish but not overly ritzy. Here, the emphasis is on colour, texture and the craft of the artisan – the hotel is scattered with work from artists new and old, helping it achieve its vintage look. There’s no thumping music or gleaming surfaces that blind in the midday sun; instead, the tone is set by the chirping cicadas and fragrant pine, orange and lemon trees that stud the gardens. Naturally, it’s luxurious too: the pool is the largest (and perhaps most attractive) of any hotel in town, the restaurant is a Sixties' reimagining Riccardo Giraudi’s Beefbar brand, and the spa is a satellite of all-natural beauty brand Tata Harper. In essence, Hôtel Lou Pinet does luxury that’s more of a knowing whisper than a shout.