Guarded by wrought-iron gates just outside St Tropez, laid-back Le Mas de Chastelas hotel is a family-friendly hidey-hole away from the crowds – and a secret worth keeping. Within easy reach of Pampelonne Beach, this relaxed mansion has held onto its historic holiday charm (the former vineyard and silkworm farm has been a hotel since the 1960s) but is laid-back and low-key enough to feel at home.
Twenty-three, including nine suites. Deluxe Room Bastides and Palladienne Suites can interconnect.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £333.52 (€395), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates don’t include breakfast, but a buffet is available (€30 for adults; €15 for children).
In-room massages can be arranged on request, and the minibars store emergency sugary snacks (Gummy Bears, Toblerone) for when only a treat will do.
Annually from mid-October until mid-April.
At the hotel
Two tennis courts, a library, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: a flatscreen TV, a box of Calins de Saint-Tropez biscuits, a minibar, fridge and L'Occitane bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Guests have a choice of rustic rooms and more modern ones, spread across three buildings: the original mas (mansion) and the two newer villas (Toscane and Palladienne). In the villas, each room has a loggia or balcony; some are blessed with both. Families on a search for space should opt for one of the rooms in the Villa Palladienne: most have a separate living room with sofa beds, and plenty of space for a cot. Request a ground-floor room in this villa for direct access to the lawn.
Lush cypress trees surround the lengthy heated pool, and there are secluded sunbathing spots that offer privacy. There’s no lifeguard on duty at the serene pool, so Smiths staying with little ones will need to keep a watchful eye from their sleek, stone-coloured sunlounger; there’s a box of toys and inflatables for children to plunder.
Ensure your crisp tennis whites are tucked into your suitcase.
Reserve a space on the hotel shuttle that ferries guests between beaches and the centre of St Tropez from 8am until 10am, May to September.
Welcome. Children are also given a box of light and luxurious Calins de Saint-Tropez biscuits (studded with chocolate chips and nougat) on arrival. Please note that, in accordance with French law, children in pools must be supervised at all times.
During colder months, the romantic chandeliers invite you inside; though in summer, you’ll want to be out beneath the shade of the verandas, to shield from the St Tropez sun.
Laid back French elegance.
La Table du Mas serves mostly alfresco meals out on the pool terrace. Expect French classics, as well as some interesting incarnations of more exotic ingredients for adventurous types. Bespoke food requests can be accommodated provided the chef has a day’s notice – great if you're hankering for a special-occasion seafood feast; ask nicely and he’ll be able to whip up something to suit. The delicious Continental buffet breakfast uses only the freshest ingredients, including croissants, cold meats, yoghurts and cereals, and is laid out between 8am and noon. Juices and milk are also available.
Relax at Le Bar with a speciality champagne cocktail, sipped to the sound of chilled-out lounge and jazz music – unless a guitarist or pianist has been booked in, as they are regularly in summer. Ice-cream floats will attract the kids’ attention by day, but the bar area is a more grown-up affair le soir.
Food is available from 8am until 11pm, so you can be master of your mealtimes. The bar calls time at 1am.
Available 24 hours a day. Options include smoked salmon on toast, burgers and French onion soup, as well as simple snacks for children, such as sandwiches.
Le Mas de Chastelas on the French Riviera is in Gassin, a small village just outside of St Tropez and close to the family-friendly Pampelonne Beach.
The region’s best-connected airport is Nice (www.nice.aeroport.fr), roughly 90 minutes away by car. BA flies here from London Heathrow (www.ba.com). You can pick up a hire car at the airport; several outfits are represented, including Sixt (www.sixt.com) and Avis (www.avis.com). Closer is Toulon airport, just under an hour’s drive away. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies here from London Stansted.
Saint-Raphael-Valescure station is 38 kilometres away; a transfer arranged through the hotel will cost €150 a car. For journeys from other destinations in France, see SNCF (www.sncf.com) for details of routes. Eurostar runs services from London, with a change in Paris (www.eurostar.com).
Le Mas de Chastelas is just off the main road leading to St Tropez and well signposted – look out for the nine flags at full mast or the Bertaud Belieu vineyard. There’s free valet parking ready for your arrival, as well as a shuttle bus to ferry you to the centre of St Tropez and the local beaches. If you want more freedom to get around an explore on your own timetable, a hire car will come in handy. The nearest major road to head north is the D93.
Boats operate between Saint Raphael and St Tropez at certain times of the year (www.tmr-saintraphael.com). For those arriving by chopper, Grimaud Heliport is six kilometres away.
Worth getting out of bed for
Work on your serve on one of the hotel’s two tennis courts, or potter gently round the pool. The hotel is in Gassin, a quiet village that’s a short drive from St Tropez, and golden beaches, polo, golf and, of course, a stop at the most fabulous fishing village on the Med should form a part of your itinerary. Take the hotel's free shuttle bus (May–September) or drive into St Tropez to admire the mega-yachts in the marina, or spend the day at Les Jumeaux Beach Club at Pampelonne Beach, which has been a prime sun-and-surf spot for 20 years; the only reason to shift from your sunlounger (other than to oversee your children) will be to grab a bite at the excellent restaurant (book ahead if possible). Tee off at the Gassin Golf and Country Club, or canter into the sunset on horseback with a ride arranged by the local polo club, Haras de Gassin.
If you fancy a further-flung and more peaceful foray, why not head to Porquerolles Island for a day – it's a beautiful, car-free isle with golden beaches and a pretty timeless village; take the boat from Hyères, a 50-minute drive from St Tropez. Up the energy-expenditure levels by hiking or hiring bikes there.
From March through September, head toLa Verdoyante in Gassin. In a grand Provençal setting, this country house restaurant specialises in ‘terroir’ cooking; expect homely, traditional dishes, but with effortless contemporary flair – give the chef 24 hours’ notice, and you’ll be tucking into the best bouillabaisse on this coast, out on a terrace facing the lush countryside. In St Tropez, lively Pizzeria Bruno on Rue Eglise mixes Italian staples with French touches, and there’s plenty of choice for children – including inventive sweet pizzas for pudding.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Le Mas de Chastelas’s Guestbook below.
We loved this hotel. (Some context: we both travel a lot for work and regularly stay in 5-star hotels. We have been lucky enough to stay in some very nice hotels. Probably the other context would be we pitched up here after a 3 day wedding, so we were ready for some R&R, and also that it was the start of the season/not great weather so the hotel was quiet). The people here could not do enough for you. Service was attentive, friendly, relaxed but not overbearing. Hotel itself is lovely, breakfast was superb and we had some amazing suppers. The desserts we had were some of the best we have ever had. All in all we left feeling thoroughly refreshed and looked after. Which we had been!
Real high end flashy interior design (the hotel is more rustic, although suites they have are new and may be a bit more flash). Loud pool parties.