Star hairdresser's former home now the perfect stop-over for sleuths and sloe-eyed beauties.
To appreciate this lovely spot, on the rim of St Tropez centre, it is useful, though not vital, to have heard of Alexandre of Paris. Sophisticated ladies of a certain vintage will need no help. Others should know that he was France’s leading 20th-century hairdresser. Born in St Tropez, Alexandre moved to Paris to tease the tresses of Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and the Duchess of Windsor, among very many others.
He invented both the “artistic bun” and Elizabeth Taylor’s coiffure as Cleopatra. To his death in 2008, he was a “moustachio’ed symbol of French elegance”. And, back in his home-town, La Mistralée was the noble mansion where he and his wife spent their leisure time among some pretty glittery guests.
So the place has memories and, now that it’s a hotel, tends them well. As in Alexandre’s time, the atmosphere eases from the 19th-century through to the 1930s, darting off occasionally to the Orient. But all this has been created, rather than preserved, so there’s a nice, light 21st-century taste at work, too. Also touches of wackiness of which, apparently, Alexandre would have approved.
It is all a considerable relief after the epidemic of beige-coloured minimalism afflicting other new hotels. One could easily imagine, say, inter-war sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey easing his Daimler through the green gates, motoring up to the sunny white building and feeling quite at home in the neo-Gothic lobby.
Beyond, the lounge has Corinthian pillars, stained glass, lots of treasures and deep settees - just the place to get your man to bring you a Scotch and soda. Or you might prefer the light-filled conservatory bar of taupe armchairs, black chandeliers and louche stylishness. It needs only a couple of sloe-eyed beauties with cigarette-holders to attain proper decadence.
As there’s a conservatory, there’s obviously a garden and abundantly fertile it is, too – both with exotic horticulture and Moroccan influence, though the pool-house looks like a pagoda.
It is, though, in the 12 bedrooms and suites that imagination really slips the leash. All tell a different story, whether it be of 19th-century orientalism (all blues, reds, black marble, bamboo and a florid vestibule), Empire-style militarism (see the trophies!) or a Kipling-esque jungle.
These are, in short, interesting rooms which, unusually, lend a sense of discovery to sleeping arrangements. Whichever one you get (the “Victor Hugo” is the cheapest, but not the least charming), do take a peek at the others. They’re worth it. And, whatever they look like, they all have bathrooms and plumbing to 2011 standards. Contemporary sloe-eyed beauties do rather insist on these.
Like this hotel? Then check for availability and deals below.
Not interested? See [node:129623] and [node:129714] for more expert recommendations.