St Tropez's newest hotel has every luxury touch imaginable, from the smartest chauffeur service you've ever seen to its own perfume. Victoria Marston paid a visit.
A needle from an ancient pine lands in my glass of rosé, bringing me out of my sun-soaked reverie. A horn sounds and I look out to the Mediterranean, where yachts bob in the breeze. I tune back into the conversation.
‘What colour yacht would you have? Black or white?’
‘Hmmm black is a bit Premier League footballer, but white is just so 1980s.’
Somehow, here on the French Riviera, you can almost see how such trivialities might matter.
After all, there’s little to concern yourself with at the latest Cheval Blanc opening — everything else is taken care of.
This Tropezian wonder fronting onto the ocean, with white columns and pink walls that glow in the evening sun, was already a successful hotel: La Résidence de la Pinède. After its refurbishment and opening in May 2019, the property has retained its heart and soul — those majestic pines towering over the terrace, surrounded by 30 rooms.
Inside those rooms, you’ll find understated, contemporary glamour (each Cheval Blanc property has a signature colour — here, it’s a cobalt blue, splashed around white interiors); outside is still pure Provençal.
Perhaps unusually, the maison’s heritage hasn’t only been preserved, but enhanced. Ceramic artist Roger Capron was involved with the design of the original hotel and one of his tile frescoes is artfully lit on the ‘Capron staircase’; his drawings adorn the rugs in each room.
Essentially, Cheval Blanc is everything you could want from a trip to Saint-Tropez, provided by a charming team. General manager Olivier Raveyre believes you come for the hotel, but you come back for the people — I’m already dreaming of my return.
And, in case you’re still pondering it, the correct answer is a white yacht. Because who didn’t love the 1980s?
Rooms from €850 (about £750) per night, including breakfast — www.chevalblanc.com
Food and drink
There is a bar and a pair of restaurants at the hotel, but the undoubted highlight is the hotel’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant, La Vague d’Or. The tasting menu by chef Arnaud Donckele, which consists largely of the freshest fish you’ll ever taste, is a theatrical experience, presented with flair. Don’t forget to book a table.
To see the best of the local produce, however, don’t miss the chance to wander the bustling Saint-Tropez market, held each Tuesday and Saturday.
Things to do
Wander the heartbreakingly pretty alleyways of St Tropez — and when you do, visit the Musée de l’Annonciade. This museum, housed in a 14th-century chapel, has works by the likes of Matisse and Signac. The museum’s Seurat painting is one of only six in France.
Pamper yourself a little. The hotel spa has what they call a ‘top-to-toe, beach-to-restaurant makeover service’. And for the evening, don’t forget a dab of the hotel’s own perfume. Each Cheval Blanc property has a signature scent, developed by the nose of Guerlain.
Final tip? If the hotel ask if you need a lift somewhere, take them up on it. You’ll find yourself being whisked around in their very own blue Bentley.