Saint-Tropez is the kind of place you love but can’t help hating at the same time. It’s is a small town which kind of surprised me the first time I visited, I expected it to be larger. You can walk around the whole town within the hour. Even though Saint-Tropez is a modern tourist hotspot now, the image of the long lost fisher village it once used to be (before Brigitte Bardot put the place on the map in the 50’s) is still very much alive. Look well, it’s hidden somewhere between the souvenir shops and the overpriced coffee.
The good, the bad and the ugly side of Saint-Tropez
I’ve been in Saint-Tropez quite a few times over the last 15 years, mostly out of season though. It’s a special place, I think it should be on everyone’s holiday must-see destinations in France. Saint-Tropez is so superficial at times that it’s funny: there is not a woman around whose lips are not plumped and you’ll find more fake boobs then seashells on the beaches. Cars compete on the streets for the titel of fastest and most expensive, as do the yachts in the harbour.
In summer Saint-Tropez is so filled with tourists that you end up spending more time in your car getting to the beach then actually chilling on the beach (tip: take the boat and avoid the car at all times between June and September). And everything, eeee-veer-ything is astronomically expensive.
The good things? It’s so darn pretty! The mimosa trees, the beautiful sandy beaches of Pampelonne, the sea, the great food, the gorgeous little colored houses plus you can even catch a glimpse of the biggest international stars. When in St Tropez out of season you will see how beautiful the region is, with a rich and varied flora and fauna not often found elsewhere in Europe. Don’t miss out on the gorgeous villages of Ramatuelle, Grimaud and Gassin.
I really do love Saint-Tropez and it’s region and despite the criticism, I must admit that if I was as rich as Croesus I would be living there for sure. Meanwhile I tested a few hotels in Saint-Tropez. I stayed in the hotels with my children.
Our top 5 hotels in Saint-Tropez
This beautiful hotel is a bit out of town but it’s worth every minute of the fifteen minutes walk to the place des Lices! This small hotel (26 rooms incl. suites), a Relais & Châteaux, is really lovely. The staff is very discrete yet kind and helpful. The food is perfect, we did not eat in the restaurant itself but had dinner in the room with room service twice and it was wonderful, fresh and good (risotto with lobster was heaven).
They made absolutely no fuss about preparing meals that were not on the menu, especially for the children.
The whole setting is wonderful, the pool is nice as is the garden. The location is very peaceful and intimate. We had an enormous room (one of the so called apartments) with an indoor closet, tastefully decorated, and a large balcony with view on the pool. It was very quite as we stayed out of high season so I’m not sure if one might have some noise issues in the summer due to the pool? We did not anyway.
This hotel was one of the only hotels which was open in Saint Tropez in February. Most hotels in Saint-Tropez only open after easter for the season. La Bastide de Saint-Tropez closes for about 5 weeks in January and is open for the rest of the year.
We absolutely loved the Pan Dei! The Pan Dei is the perfect alternative for the Byblos hotel if you want to stay in the centre of town. I already wrote a review of the Pan Dei, you can find the full review here.
And now for something completely different: A mobile home park!! The Kon Tiki is located on the beach of Pampelonne about five minutes walk from the famous restaurant and beach Club 55.
You can rent the mobile homes, called Tiki Huttes, by the week (but you can always try to book a shorter period out of season, if it’s available they will rent it out for shorter periods). The mobile homes have 1,2 or 3 rooms and are available for 4 or 6 people. I think all the mobile homes have airco (which you will really need in july and august!) etc.. The nicest ones are the Tiki Huttes 1st row on the beach: sit on the terrace of your Tiki Hutte looking at the beautiful sea and enjoy the farniente on the pretty sand beach. They also have a few ‘Tiki Lounge’ which are mobile homes with a small pool or spa in your personal garden.
The restaurants are bad, really really bad but you don’t need to eat in the Kon Tiki, there are so many restaurants around and on the days you don’t want to eat out you can just cook yourself in the small kitchenette. Some of the mobile homes are not aging very well and the mobile homes are not always spotlessly clean but the setting is so great you would forgive and forget.
The Kon Tiki is the perfect place to discover Saint-Tropez, it’s beaches and the region without the trouble of parking your car and without paying fortunes for average rooms. As I said, the Tiki Hutte front row on the beach are the nicest but unfortunately I’m not the only one who discovered that which means they are all fully booked very early every year.
Hotel la Mandarine is not in the center of town but on the road to the beaches. We enjoyed every bit of our stay in this hotel. The garden is pretty and peaceful and there is a swimming pool. The style is typical Provencal and the decoration in the rooms is classic and refined. The food was very good, as well as the service. It’s a good place if you want to relax far from the jet set crowd and hustle and bustle from the town.
The Domaine de l’Astragale can be compared with the hotel la Mandarine as for the kind of hotel it is. Sophisticated, intimate and classic with good food and fine service. On the road to the beaches out of town with a nice garden and a swimming pool. Both hotels are part of the Alp’ Azur Hotels.
The Lou Cagnard is a 2 star hotel in the village, right behind the place des Lices. This is the only hotel on the list I did not try personally but I am still putting it down here for two reasons. First, I have heard lots of good stories about this small hotel and I think it could be a good budget alternative.
Second, we tried to get a room there once as walk ins but they were full at the time. The staff was very friendly and helpful and even tried to find an alternative for us.