Review: Le Beauvallon, St Tropez

Le Beauvallon-Winter Garden 1

On the shimmering Bay of Saint-Tropez, Le Beauvallon looks out over crystalline blue waters, golden beaches and lush greenery. Once one of the French Riviera’s grandest hotels, Le Beauvallon has welcomed the likes of Edward Kennedy, Lady Churchill, King Mohammed V of Morocco and, more recently, Johnny Depp over the course of its 100 year history.

The property has recently undergone extensive renovations, while retaining the opulence and grandeur for which it was famed throughout the 20th century, albeit reimagined in a strikingly contemporary way. No longer a hotel, Le Beauvallon is now a private residence and estate available for exclusive hire, offering 42 contemporary bedrooms and artfully decorated communal spaces.

Within easy reach of Nice (served from London by British Airways and EasyJet), the residence is hidden among tall plants and trees, and is set within four hectares of expertly manicured grounds, beautified by sweet-smelling, intensely coloured flowers – and the presence of specially commissioned sculptures by international contemporary artists.

The curated artwork – a point of pride at Le Beauvallon – continues within the grand building. Striking, abstract forms and carefully considered interior design features dominate the high-ceilinged spaces of the 1,213 square metre ground floor, including a gargantuan exploding water droplet captured in shiny silver metal in the central Salon Sud; and a reflective, convex ping pong table designed by Ron Arad Studio in the playful boardroom. Elsewhere, displays feature hanging sculptural pieces, pop-art-indebted works, sensuous paintings and interactive installations – making a wander through the huge estate an aesthetically rich experience.

Le Beauvallon’s guests can enjoy luxuries including a state-of-the-art 12 seater cinema; a gym featuring a rolling climbing wall; spa treatment rooms and a games room, which boasts karaoke, musical instruments, table football and a Wurlitzer jukebox. Central relaxation spaces include the Winter Garden, a beautifully-designed conservatory space with an abundance of thought-provoking artefacts, works of art and pastel pink and orange flowers contrasting the intricately tiled floor; a sun-soaked terrace overlooking the deep azure waters where three-tiered breakfasts of French patisserie, yoghurts and preserves and cooked dishes are served; and a larger space dotted with colourful, Moroccan-inspired wicker chairs and tables – the perfect setting for post-dinner cocktails or shisha. The aforementioned Salon Sud, with its restored, original painted ceiling, features immaculate white chairs and tables – the ideal setting for afternoon tea and some respite from the sun; the adjacent lounge area is a more relaxed but no less chic space to shoot some pool and admire the artistic works on display.

With such carefully thought-out design employed throughout the residence, one would expect nothing less from its bedrooms. Each of the 26 large suites and 14 en-suite rooms is lavishly set up with gizmos and gadgets that will make every guest feel like a child – including a gun-operated lamp; changing LED lights and remote-controlled shutters for truly restful sleep. Every room is unique; some feature mezzanine levels with a rain room, retro-futuristic see-through baths and walk-in wardrobes; others include a heavy-duty telescope for a closer look at Saint-Tropez or the stars; intellectually stimulating books on everything from architecture, fashion and art; and they all boast the height of luxury: self-flushing toilets with seats that lift themselves. Private balconies offer peaceful spaces to unwind before dinner.

The most remarkable room in the residence is the Sky Pad – Le Beauvallon’s stunning penthouse suite. Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with unparalleled panoramic views of the Bay of Saint-Tropez, lucky guests that stay here will never tire of watching the dark orange sun set over the rolling hills and mountains, disappearing behind the sparkling blue of the sea. The penthouse is decorated with statement chairs, a piano, massage chairs, a king-sized bed and a mammoth television, set across a handful of elaborately designed rooms.

A sloping lawn leads to an avenue of gangly bamboo and palms, beyond which is Le Beauvallon’s private beach club and half Olympic-sized swimming pool, which glitters under the sun with its mermaid-like green and blue mosaic floor. The summer pavilion is a shaded indoor-outdoor space which began life as the 2002 Serpentine Gallery pavilion in Hyde Park. The space can be used for parties and dinners, as well as a spot to read your book away from the sun-drenched pool area. The pool and beach area is completed with loungers and parasols, sofas and tables, jacuzzis, a bar, an intricately tiled viewing platform and jetty – beyond which lies a stretch of secluded beach. From here, it is just a 10 minute boat ride across the Bay to the town of Saint-Tropez, with its luxury stores and restaurants; those who simply want to take in the sea air can take a short trip around the bay, where the boat’s knowledgable skipper will point out local landmarks, including the house of Brigitte Bardot – one of the area’s most famous former residents.

As well as visits to nearby Saint-Tropez, Le Beauvallon can help guests organise trips to other sights in the vicinity. The renowned winemaker Château Sainte-Roseline is a 40 minute drive from the estate; as well as offering wine tasting opportunities, the chateâu is also a significant site for religion and art, featuring a shrine to French Roman Catholic saint, Roseline de Villeneuve – and a wall mosaic by the influential artist, Marc Chagall, who once resided in this part of the country.

Come evening, it’s the perfect time to catch the sun setting over the bay while enjoying cocktails made by the attentive staff – before sitting down to a southern French feast courtesy of veteran chef Guy Gedda, an expert on Provencal cooking. His bouillabaisse is the result of years of fine-tuning, and is a fine showcase of the quality produce available in this region, particularly its fresh-as-can-be fish.

Despite the stupendous spread Le Beauvallon can put on, guests can satisfy midnight hunger pangs with a trip to the pantry. With one of these small rooms on every floor – just a short jog down the corridor from each room – guests can take snacks, soft drinks and even bottles of wine and beer to their room, to enjoy while curling up in the airy bed or while watching the moon reflect off the calm waters of the bay from the private terrace.

Le Beauvallon is available for exclusive hire, priced at EUR 80,000 a day during July and August, and EUR 70,000 a day throughout the rest of the year. Prices include property rental and insurance; 24 hour concierge service and site security; housekeeping; service personnel; breakfast and snacks; and boat transfers to Saint-Tropez.

As featured in Mayfair Times’ August 16 edition.

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