Château Saint-Martin and Spa
Hotel in Côte d’Azur
Heartbreakingly beautiful blue skies? Check. Weaving Provencal foothills? Check. Row after row of majestically flanked Cypress trees? Check. Unmistakable sweet scent of lavender in the air? Check.
So it seems my 15km journey from Nice airport has landed me in heaven. A tad dramatic? Perhaps. OK, so heaven it may not be, (after all, there were no clouds made of candy floss or calorie-free bars of chocolate) but after a recent visit to Le Château Saint-Martin, I would wager that this 35-acre plot of breathtaking French terrain may be the closest thing to celestial serenity on Earth.
As part of the illustrious Relais& Châteaux collection of elite hotels around the world, the word ‘luxury’ rises effervescently off every word spoke, key turned, pillow plumped and brick laid in this once 12th century knight’s templar.
The honey-stoned Château holds an enviable location, sitting very pretty, just 28km from Cannes and 35km from Monaco, both of which are reachable by helicopter. Oh did I forget to say the Château has its own helipad? Of course it does. Even the view knows it has to live up to a five star service; the nearby Côte d’Azur’s coastline boastfully glistens, flora puff out their dazzling blushes of colour and fauna chirp melodically as if straight out of a Disney sketch.
So we know the scenery is worryingly perfect, but what of the actual hotel? After all, I’m not sleeping in the scenery. No, I’m expecting sumptuous suites, Toile de Jouey’ bed linen, an Apple TV, marble bathroom, Bamford toiletries and private balcony with ivy-clad turret overhead. Thankfully, it seems wishes do come true here and all the aforementioned were greeted with childish glee and a rather restrained stop-myself-from-bursting-into-song-moment at the latter.
As well as the 39 Junior Suites, since 2011 the Châteaux now offers six peacefully private villas surrounded by the estates olive trees, complete with panoramic views, permanent room service and chauffeur on hand to escort guests to and from the main Châteaux. Think of the very best holiday villa you could ever wish for, beautifully authentic but aptly state-of-the-art and then times by ten. They were resolutely luxurious and worthy of their premier rates.
Food is never far from my mind, so discovering the two in-house restaurants during my stay was always going to be top of the agenda. And with head chef Yannick Franques, (former student of Alain Ducasse) at the helm of all things edible, visits to the two-Michelin starred Le Saint Martin and it’s more informal, but equally thought of, little sister La Rosticceria were clear highlights.
Yannick’s seven-course taster menu, shared with friends and strangers alike, proved to be one of those unadulterated foodie moments when the whimsical meets the utterly magnificent. When skill and craftsmanship collide seamlessly with the downright bizarre, setting taste buds tingling and eyes widening. This was indeed the entertainment of food in all its profound glory. And if it had been my last supper, I would have floated on up to my candy floss cloud in the sky with content fullness.
The Château continues with its culinary efforts by opening ‘its doors on its reserve of a thousand and one vintage phials’. Les Cantheres wine club, held deep in the underground cellar is a living part of the history of the fortified structure and offers a place for wine lovers and oenologists alike to meet, discuss, taste and discover.
Mind and Body
Seven courses and a wine tasting don’t come without a twinge of guilt though, so the next morning we’re up to pay our dues at a intense private yoga class and a swim in the outdoor infinity pool.
Of course one deserves a reward for working so hard so it was back to the Château’s award-winning La Prairie spa in the afternoon for a there-are-no-words deep tissue massage in one of the spa’s five treatment booths. Peace and relaxation continued with a visit to the intricately mosaic-tiled sauna, steam room and hammam. When in the French Riviera and all that…
Sophie Rae is a London based food and travel writer
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Ambience||Quiet, Incredible Staff, Elegant, Romantic|
|Services||Restaurant, Room Service, Fitness Center, Swimming Pool, Health Spa|
|Number of Rooms||39 Junior Suites & 6 Private Villas|
With few reasons to leave the hotel’s paradise, it would be easy to miss out on the plethora of French fancies to indulge in, but a trip to the nearby town of St Paul de Vence offers a glimpse of an idyllic Côte d’Azur community; full of charming gift shops, boulangeries and quaint alfresco tables to sip an obligatory café au lait. Wearing a jaunty beret with cigarette in hand and baguette tucked into your bicycle basket is of course optional, though you’ll blend in seamlessly if you do. The town is also steeped in art history as the former stomping ground of Chagall, Matisse and Picasso and home to the world-renowned modern art museum, the Maeght Foundation. Art lover or not, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Rates start from €360 per room per night including breakfast.
Last updated on 02-10-2015