Hôtel de Paris Saint-Tropez is for those who like to stay right in the centre of town, and have lots of fun. Drive to this luxury hotel, which thoughtfully has six floors of underground parking, and leave your vehicle there until you check out. From the hotel you can walk wherever, which is incredibly useful, especially in high summer (even the 150 employees walk to work – the owner sensibly put up a building specially for them, ten minutes’ away). Actually many guests staying here simply never want to move. Like the Fabienne Ferrer statues dotted around, guests stay put. Fabienne Ferrer, by the way, is apparently a former seamstress who wanted a change of direction: her sculptures are really rather like those by Nicky de Saint-Phalle, who is currently being featured in an exhibition in St-Tropez.
This does seem to be one of those hotels that has everything a guest might wish for, right here. Looking after this 90-room establishment is a pretty extraordinary lady, Danielle Lagrange, originally from Bordeaux with a professional career that includes beauty in Paris and selling Accor in Havana. She is one of those delightfully old-fashioned – or perhaps futuristic – hoteliers who believes in being on the floor rather than sitting in an office (this is so realistic from a customer perspective). We had lunch up on the fourth floor rooftop, in the glass-walled Les Toits restaurant overlooking the pool – this was the occasion for traditional Mediterranean fare, a mélange of different coloured tomatoes with a whole burrata on top, and then beef tartare with a mesclun salad. There is also a caviar restaurant somewhere.
Down at ground level you think you are in an art gallery, which in fact it is. The owners are the art-loving Dray family, who have considerably upgraded the hotel. It was built in 1930 as a retreat for Parisians, hence its name though it is essential to give it the whole name, Hôtel de Paris Saint-Tropez, to distinguish it from Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. The ground floor bar is surrounded by memorable art, which apparently changes from time to time, and its ceiling is pretty notable, too. The presidential Dolce Vita suite, which is on two floors, has annotated photos of Brigitte Bardot with comments, in her own hand, from St Tropez’s most famous citizen, and there is a photo collage of her in an events room.
Go down 24 white sculpted stairs from the ground floor to the wellness oasis and there is more art, here in the form of shape and ambience. As the photo shows, the entire reception area looks as computer-generated as the interiors of a 777 plane: the Clarins spa has five treatment rooms and the whole caboosh will be an essential element in enticing business during the winter. Yes, this is the one significant luxury hotel that is daring to stay open around the year, giving people a reason to come to St-Tropez away from the crowds of summer.