At Muse St Tropez hotel, a free shuttle will take you to the town centre (or Pampelonne and St Tropez beaches), and you'll be royally spoilt the whole time – you won’t even have to leave your room for a massage. We reckon that’s about all you need to know about this boutique bolthole in the heart of Ramatuelle, where the gardens are blooming, the pool is cabana-lined and the rooms are the very definition of peaceful havens.
Get this when you book through us:
Cocktails and canapés on arrival, plus late check-out or early check-in (subject to availability)
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £496.13 (€550), 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 Continental breakfast.
Pilates and yoga classes are held regularly, and a personal trainer can be hired. Guests are welcome to use a nearby tennis court; it's five minutes' walk from the hotel. Philippe Xerri (of oh-so hip boutique Rock the Kasbah) brings breezy beach style to the hotel lobby.
6 October to 10 April
At the hotel
Gardens, spa, pétanque terrain, gym, library of books, music and films, free WiFi throughout. Bikes are free to borrow. In rooms: iPod dock with preloaded iPod, flatscreen TV, DVD and Blu-Ray player, PlayStation, Nespresso machine, free non-alcoholic drinks, a minibar stocked with Ladurée treats, and Hermès bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Luxe room Edith has its own bar and wine cellar – both notable features in our books. For a foliage-filled view, pick Luxe room Juliette for its landscape-showcasing perch. Alternatively, for a mini-manor-house feel, try Prestige room Lauren, where a stately living room and bedroom lead out to a huge private terrace, garden and plunge pool, and the oversized ensuite has its own massage area.
In addition to the private plunge pool outside most suites, there’s a larger, infinity-edged, unheated version in the grounds, lined with loungers and curtained cabanas and soundtracked with light lounge music. Want a cocktail? Snacks? Someone to gently massage you in the sunshine? All can be arranged.
Book a bespoke treatment (each will be customised to suit your needs) at the spa or at your own private massage table if your room that has one (several do) – fragrant herbal distillates are used for their healing and calming properties. The spa has six treatment rooms, including one for couples, and is open until 9pm daily. The gym sits close to the pool.
Leave your gadgets behind: each room has an iPad, preloaded iPod on a dock, PS3 and free WiFi. If you find your beach bag missing essential items, there’s no need to panic as towels, sun cream and sunglasses (and even the beach bag if you’ve forgotten that) are available to borrow.
The hotel has designated smoking areas, and smoker-friendly suites are available on request. All communal areas are suitable for wheelchair users and there is one suite fully equipped for disabled guests.
If there’s a patch of the hotel or garden you like the look of, just ask: the chef can be your private cook and serve whatever you fancy, wherever you want to eat it.
White jeans and wedges for her; striped shirts and a golden tan for him.
M is set in and around the patio and gardens, and offers casual poolside dining at lunch and a more gastronomic affair at night, with all dishes based on Mediterranean favourites and made using ingredients freshly picked from a local market. Feast on just-caught fish, rack of lamb with ratatouille, lobster and asparagus ravioli and lemon pie with almond meringue. Breakfast is a hearty spread of fresh fruit, juices, yoghurt, cereals, bread and pastries, served around the pool in M.
The poolside bar serves plenty of cocktails and aperitifs – but if all the honed, golden gods and goddesses have you wanting something a little healthier, try a smoothie or detox-friendly juice.
You won’t have to bother with an alarm to catch breakfast: it’s served until 4pm. Lunch is a similarly laid-back arrangement, on offer between 11am and 7pm. Catch dinner from 6pm until 11pm.
Available 24 hours a day. Dishes from M’s menu can be ordered when it’s open; otherwise, choose from a snack menu from midnight to 7am. There’s also a list of kids’ options.
Muse St Tropez is actually a five-minute drive south of the city in the chic Riviera hilltop town of Ramatuelle.
The closest airport is petite Toulon-Hyères, an hour away by car. It serves a few large cities in France, including Paris, and Ryanair flies here from London Stansted (www.ryanair.com), KLM from London City (www.klm.com). The larger Nice Côte d’Azur airport is a 90-minute drive, and serves a wide international spectrum of cities from Madrid to Moscow, including many UK airports.
The most convenient station is St Raphael, an hour’s drive away, and served by trains from other cities across France, including Marseille, Nice and Paris (www.sncf.com).
Muse is a short drive out of St Tropez. There’s free valet parking when you arrive. It’s about four miles from the town centre, but you’re better off borrowing a bike, as traffic jams can snake for hours in high season.
Take a boat from Fréjus or St Raphael across the bay to St Tropez (www.bateauxsaintraphael.com). It’s also possible to land on the hotel’s helipad.
Worth getting out of bed for
Watersports enthusiasts will find a second home on Pampelonne Beach, which offers water-skiing, parascending, cat-sailing and wakeboarding. Walk along to the Eglise de St Tropez for the best views at sunset. Stock up on everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to antique mirrors and slippers at the lively Place des Lices market; if the stalls aren’t there, enjoy admiring the plane trees and pétanque players from one of the square’s many cafés instead. The portside Musée de l’Annonciade on rue Georges Clemenceau, in St Tropez houses works by Matisse, Bonnard and Seurat. It’s open every day except Tuesday, from 10am–1pm and 2pm–6pm; closed during November (+33 (0)4 94 17 84 10).
Sit out on the leafy patio of Strand rue du Petit Bal in St Tropez– if you’ve made it past the queue (try to book in advance) – and order home-made fois gras, truffle mash, and the chef’s speciality to finish: that French favourite Nutella, in chocolate-mousse form (+33 (0)4 94 97 43 22; www.the-strand.fr). Pine-shaded La Pomme de Pin on Route de Tahiti is always busy for a reason – it offers some of the best-value food in St Tropez. Enjoy alfresco Italian and Mediterranean classics, and if you’ve braved the summer traffic, at least there’s plenty of room to park once you arrive (+33 (0)4 94 97 43 22). For great wine and traditional, local-approved French fare, Caprice des Deux on 40 rue Portal Neuf is definitely a box to tick (+33 (0)4 94 97 76 78).
Through a maze of teeny tiny gravel paths, a circular retro-futuristic (futro?) construction in raw brick rears out of fields of whimsical dainty flowers and wild Provençal grasses – it’s seemingly straight from the drawing board of a James Bond set designer. No doors or windows to ruin the effect, just an opening in the wall (and St Tropez apparently has no bad weather to shut out anyway) – from here Muse’s reception beckons. An efficient and discreet iPad exchange later and we are crunching our way across more gravel to our suite.
Muse does a rare thing in successfully marrying Malaysian and Tropezian style; mostly through a kaleidoscope of beige and concealed lighting, which managed to convert me. This red-velvet, chandelier-and-dripping-gold kind of gal is now a born-again beige fan. Every corner and corridor is worthy of a glossy interior-design tome, and at least a month’s worth of material for Instagrammers. I was delighted to find we’d been upgraded to the vast Ava suite; that’s Muse’s policy if the next category up is not booked. Plates of petit fours and fresh exotic fruits were sitting pretty on the coffee table upon our arrival, which Mr Smith hoovered up, sprawled in the sun streaming through into the lounge. I headed straight outside to our private plunge pool; why waste valuable bikini minutes on cake? The garden was well manicured and tranquil enough to hear a champagne cork sigh from the in-room bar. Blissful privacy!
Aperitif is one of my favourite times of the day, so we popped by Muse’s poolside bar before heading into St Trop for dinner. The main ‘water salon’ continues the Malaysian aesthetic, with luxurious cabanas in turquoise water, and yet more sleek and chic design. I found a spot at the bar to enjoy the bewitching magical dusk sun that South of France does so well. Mr Smith and I were a little befuddled when the waiter approached and asked if I’d like a crap. There ensued a sketch reminscent of vintage Brit TV show TheTwo Ronnies, until we established that the hotel offers complimentary teatime crêpes. And they’re excellent. A dry martini, a perfect Manhattan and a couple of perfect French pancakes later, Mr Smith and I took the hotel shuttle to the port.
St Tropez is a little village with a big name, conjuring up images of Brigitte Bardot and superyachts. In reality it’s a petite little spot, perfect for swooping in for two nights, partying like it’s 1959, and swooping off again. By day, the private beaches are popular day clubs, and the winding little streets in the village are indeed as picture-book worthy as you can hope for. The shopping is great if you want to spank your credit card, I even found an entire store dedicated to vintage Chanel costume jewellery, which didn’t excite Mr Smith as much as it did me. If you love a good dose of French-ness you could do worse than taking a moment, as we did, to watch the old boys playing pétanque in the square, obligatory pastis in hand, while tanned women stroll through the dusk with their petits chiens beetling along at their ankles.
For a dinner of bouillabaisse, Mr Smith and I found a relaxed little spot set back from the port – the great fish dishes are to be taken advantage of while you’re in St Tropez, and there are loads of cute restaurants in the cobbled backstreets. However the clubs at night are far removed from any kind of Golden Age glamour, you’d be best enjoying those after copious amounts of alcohol… delivered with fireworks, natch. Maybe bring earplugs if David Guetta’s not your thing. We wandered into Opera bar just in time for a group of dancers to file in line onto my table and execute a precarious routine in shorts and bras so skimpy I wanted to fling a towel round them and offer them a cup of tea. It’s definitely worth venturing a little outside of St Tropez itself for a less Euro-touristy affair, and friendlier staff. Though Les Caves du Roy is the venue of choice for the jetset and should be experienced.
The following morning, we took a late and lazy breakfast on our upstairs terrace and soaked in the Provençal view. Mr Smith doesn’t miss a trick, and already had his sights set on the massage table in our enormous stone bathroom. The Muse concierge rustled up a masseuse at short notice for him. We chose to clock in our suntan duty at the hotel pool for the day, rather than going to a beach club. If you have paradise on your doorstep already, why go elsewhere? Naturally, the service at Muse being flawless, we were waited on hand and foot so the only effort required from me was the lifting of piña colada from table to mouth.
That night we ate at Muse’s restaurant, titled simply ‘M’. See? I knew there was more than a little James Bond about this place; sadly no Nick Nack to serve me though. The menu was an unusual Malaysian-Provençal fusion, pulled off with aplomb; lots of couldn’t-be-fresher fish, and flowers and herbs punctuating the flavours. Mr Smith’s silky steamed ox-cheek dumplings (not a euphemism) were beyond delicious as a starter. The view over the pool by candlelight and fresh orchids topped up the romance quota. We had our nightcap back in our suite, seeing as we had an extensive wine and champagne cave in the room begging to be sampled.
If you’re a traveller with high standards, Muse will tick all your boxes. The best part for me was that with the Asian influence, it felt more like an exclusive boutique retreat than a hotel. I barely noticed any other rooms as they were housed in separate little buildings, dotted discreetly about. The shuttle meant that once we arrived, we could park the car, and park the stress of finding our way around the area, or even having to lift a finger at all. Staff are discreet, friendly and delightful. You have the best of all worlds, the South of France sun, the floral waft on the breeze, a hotel that feels like an exotic paradise, and only five minutes from the ‘Ooh-la-la’ of the centre if you crave a little ‘Du Trop’. Just one last tip: don’t forget your biggest sunglasses; and don’t act starstruck if Pharrell’s on the next sunlounger…