Slip into the luxury embrace of an Indian princess ...
Here’s a fragrant little wonderland, and no mistake. Take a fine Provençal town-house in the middle of St Tropez, infuse it with Oriental style and classic Indian taste, throw rose petals across the pool – and you have a spot well worthy of its own story.
This started in the early 19th-century when French general Jean-François Allard left France for India, to enter the service of a Punjabi king. He formed and trained a 10,000-strong local army – essentially, it seems, to fight the British. He also fell for a real Indian princess, Pan Deï. They married, she bore him five children and the family eventually returned to Allard’s home, St Tropez, that the kids might have a French education.
Allard built the family mansion on what was then the poshest street in town. Now romance has returned to the grand old house thanks to a renovation which (forgive the effusiveness) must be an object lesson in how to do things properly.
The reception, lounge and library come on like the home of a rich colonial dignitary who (like Allard) actually appreciated Indian culture, its wood-carvings and deities, portraits, sculptures and Kama-Sutra colours. Comfort is both deep and exotic. A light feeling of cultivated well-being enfolds you, and that’s before you’ve got to the unsuspected gardens.
There, one may idle from petal-strewn pool to loungers to thatched gazebos with mattresses, which the hotel terms “honeymoon beds”. (Be advised, though, that any honeymoon activity will be in full view of everyone else in the garden.) Beyond is a clubby bar which really requires a drinks-wallah or two.
Back in the main house, rooms would suit the most exacting memsahib. Dark woods, oriental antiques and treasures mix very easily with inlaid furniture, many-coloured cushions and settees, and more sophisticated plumbing than our memsahib might know what to do with. There’s a suspicion of wood-polish and mild herbs in the air. These really are among the loveliest sleeping arrangements in St Tropez.
There’s a sumptuous little restaurant, the inevitable spa and yet a feeling of family informality withal. You may, for instance, lunch whenever you want, and take breakfast on the nearby beach. As you do so, you might think of Princess Pan Deï. Her husband, the general, was recalled to India – where he was killed. She refused to believe he was dead and so, until her own death, daily walked the St Tropez port, awaiting his return. Shed a tear, and pass the croissants.
Like this hotel? Then check for availability and deals below.
Not interested? See [node:129623] and [node:129714] for more expert recommendations.