The enclave for the rich and wealthy that is Saint-Tropez has a plethora of luxury hotels to offer, but none of them is quite like the picturesque Villa Belrose. Its curious location, small scale setup and elegant decor earned it a place in the ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World’ collection, and during a short road trip to the French Riviera we stayed the night to find out why.
Marketed as the hideaway of Saint-Tropez, the Althoff Villa Belrose sits on top of a local hill overseeing the bay of Saint-Tropez. The Florentine-style villa houses a total of 40 luxury accommodations, designed to breathe the atmosphere and style of the 1950’s and 1960’s in Saint-Tropez. A warm and luxurious interior greets guests upon entrance of the lobby, drawing one’s eyes to the impressive view from the hotel’s terrace straight ahead.
The top terrace welcomes guests to the hotel’s sizable outdoor space, divided over three levels. It functions as a terrace for the hotel’s bar, as the majestic stairs with white balustrades lead guests down to the main terrace where dinner and breakfast are served. The larger terrace on the second level provides a comfortable atmosphere in which guests can enjoy the delicacies served by Michelin-starred restaurant ‘Le Belrose’, and experience a comprehensive breakfast buffet in the early morning sun.
A further set of stairs lead down to the ground level which features the peninsula’s largest heated swimming pool (200 square meters), a pool bar, fitness room, spa facility and garden. The lower deck additionally provides access to 20 superior double rooms with garden and pool views. Looking at the villa from the pool deck is an impressive sight indeed, the light yellow shade of the building comes out brilliantly in the summer sun and blends in its environment perfectly. The white balustrades and architectural accents convey its five-star mediterranean image even further.
Located in a rather quiet corner of the Saint-Tropez peninsula, this five-star property couldn’t be anymore different from a mainstream French Riviera beach resort. While traffic to Saint-Tropez during the summer holidays is a struggle in general, Villa Belrose’s strategic location in the hills of the small Provencal town Gassin prevents guests from having to stand longer in traffic towards the touristic coastal town. A small street serving the local residences in the Gassin hills ends with the entrance to Villa Belrose, where the view of the surrounding riviera landscapes is very rewarding indeed.
The hotel is easy to reach by car and has plenty of parking space on its property, managed by their very own valet service. The hotel furthermore offers shuttle services from and to nearby airports, as well as shuttle services into town at the guest’s convenience. The nearest airport is just 55 kilometers away in Toulon, while the distance to the larger Nice Côte d’Azur airport is a hundred kilometers.
During our stay at Villa Belrose we were given a ‘Prestige Sea View’ room on the third level, directly adjacent to the hotel’s lobby. Just as the magnificent views, the hotel’s service is unparalleled too, providing a butler’s service that merely leaves guests with having to open their hotel room door. The exceptional service doesn’t stop there, inside a plate of fruit and complimentary treats awaited us, just like a bottle of home-labelled rosé in an ice bucket.
Our room was compact but luxurious, with the in marble finished bathroom being the ultimate testament to the latter. Opening up the door to the room’s terrace it became evident the focus has been put on the outdoors space. The private terrace is almost twice the size of the hotel room and offers the same breathtaking views of the area. It comes with two luxury lounge beds giving us the opportunity to relax under the mild Saint-Tropez evening climate after a long day of driving.
Parade horse of the hotel is the superior suite with sea view that measures an impressive 70 square meters. It comes with two marble en-suite bathrooms and a separate sitting room. Its private terrace with lounge beds overlooking the bay of Saint-Tropez is just as impressive and has space for up to four guests. If you are looking for the best views the hotel has the offer you might consider the suite located on the top floor. It measures 10 square meters less and comes with a balcony instead of a terrace, but can be enlarged up to 100 square meters thanks to two adjoining rooms.
Pool and Wellness
Waking up and seeing the sun rise over a yacht-filled bay of Saint-Tropez was an experience like nothing else. We got up early to give the hotel’s fitness center a try and dip in the pool before treating ourselves to the extensive breakfast buffet. The hotel’s fitness room is easy to reach via the lobby elevator and the fact that it borders the hotel’s pool makes it even more convenient.
There is plenty of equipment for guests to get their daily work out, from several cardio devices to a set of weights. While working out, hotel personnel is happy to assist you in any way and will supply guests with complimentary bottles of water. Having gone through our daily workout routine we planted ourselves on one of the pool beds and took a dive into refreshing pool. Although we only got to enjoy the pool on an early and quiet morning, we can imagine how rela it must be during the day with a full service pool bar at your disposal.
Restaurant and Bar
After unfortunately having had to pass on a fancy dinner prepared by Villa Belrose’s one michelin-starred chef Pietro Volontè due to a late arrival the evening before, we did get to enjoy the hotel’s freshly prepared breakfast buffet. We ordered an omelette á la carte and were served with freshly brewed coffee. The buffet provided a plethora of local delicacies and Mediterranean side dishes to choose from, and with a table on the edge of the terrace there wasn’t anything else we could wish for.
For those of you who may fancy dining at the prestigious ‘Le Belrose’ restaurant, the star chef’s specialty is the Risotto ‘Pietro Volontè’ for two, which is served in a parmesan wheel. As you’d expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant, there are plenty of local and exclusive delicacies available for order from the comprehensive menu, including ‘blue lobster tail’, Scottish langoustines and a variety of amuses.
Lunch at the pool is also a possibility. ‘Le Petit Belrose’ is not just a pool bar, but has a complete menu of its own serving a broad variety of dishes right at your poolside table.
When it comes to any other services or special requests, the hotel’s concierge is the go-to person, who is happy to assist. We asked whether he knew any special or scenic driving routes in the area and he was happy to mark some of them out on a map. The nearby D93 that goes around the peninsula and crosses one of the highest points overviewing the area was a sound recommendation and a scenic road we enjoyed driving very much.
Our stay at the Villa Belrose has been a truly special experience. The setting of the luxury estate and its mesmerizing views are without a doubt the best of the Saint-Tropez area. The relatively small scale setup gives an increased sense of luxury and service, perfectly portrayed by the highly competent hotel staff. From the little things such as a complimentary bottle of water in the fitness room to the friendly welcome in our own language upon exiting the car: every detail is taken care of in a highly satisfying manner.
The term ‘bathe in luxury’ is one that surely applies here, from the inviting super-sized pool to the marble tub in the accommodation’s bathroom. On top of that the property is blessed with a prestigious restaurant that excels in some of the finest mediterranean dishes, drawing in guests from far away. The hotel’s feature in the World’s Luxury Small Hotels is more than deserved.