January 11, 2023
Tablet is your source for discovering the world’s most exciting boutique hotels — places where you’ll find a memorable experience, not just a room for the night. For over twenty years we’ve scoured the earth, evaluating hotels for every taste and budget, creating a hand-picked selection that’s proven and unforgettable. Now, we’re the official hotel selection of the legendary MICHELIN Guide.
Here are the top boutique hotels in Provence, France:
This hotel's name just about says it all: Villa Belrose, Saint-Tropez. The attraction here is essentially that this is the authentic St. Tropez of old, a sanctuary for the rest and relaxation of the fantastically rich and impossibly posh. And the hotel is everything one could reasonably expect from a private estate in this most legendary of destinations. The resort feels more like a residence than a hotel, a vastly spacious residence, extravagantly decorated, with every imaginable luxury accounted for.
The rooms are designed in a soft contemporary style, with a light and airy atmosphere befitting a seaside villa. Each room has its own spacious terrace — some with views of the the Bay of St. Tropez, others with views of the garden. And at every level the guest rooms are richly appointed, from the underfloor heating to the sunny white marble bathrooms.
As famous travel experiences go, Dante and Virgil’s journey into hell and back is perhaps not the sort of itinerary you want to follow too closely. La Divine Comédie, you’ll be glad to know, takes the bulk of its inspiration from the Paradiso section of the poem — this hôtel particulier boasts the largest private garden in Avignon, which makes it an island of verdant tranquility despite its location in the heart of the medieval city center.
It’s a small hotel, comprised of just five suites, which is a perfectly heavenly scale if you like personal service, splendidly uncrowded public spaces, and a convivial country-house atmosphere. The suites are luxurious, eclectic, historically informed — how could they not be, in this beautifully preserved old house — but put together with a contemporary eye and a palette of rich, deep colors. They’re all different, but they’re all extraordinary.
As magical as the typical Provençal country hotel can be, it’s not all the only hospitality experience the south of France has to offer. Villa La Coste begins with a 17th-century farmhouse surrounded by rambling stone buildings, but it’s the contemporary additions by architects like Frank Gehry, Oscar Niemeyer, and Tadao Ando that set it apart from the ordinary bastide hotel — not to mention its 600 acres of parkland, vineyards, and gardens, and an art collection that rivals some urban museums.
The hotel’s 28 suites are sunny, contemporary, stylish, modernist-inspired and hyper-luxe, and they’re tasteful rather than ostentatious (at least until you get to the bathrooms, which are nothing short of extravagant). They’re not technically freestanding villas, though they feel like they are, and they’re furnished in a residential style, complete with a library of art books and even original works by the artists featured on site — names like Tracey Emin, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Louise Bourgeois.
There are castles, and then there are castles. This one dates back to the 1700s, which explains its unusual Italianate style, and only became a hotel in 2017, after three centuries as a private estate. Its setting, just to the north of Aix-en-Provence, endears it to wine lovers, as does the Fonscolombe winery itself, which produces organic reds, whites, and rosés. But the key to its appeal is that it’s quite simply the most luxurious hotel for many miles around.
Of its 50 rooms, 13 are set in the landmark castle building, which means they’ve got more character (and beautiful garden views) in exchange for slightly less space. Still, this isn’t Paris — square footage is ample all the way up and down the range, and the recent renovation means up-to-date modern comforts are universal as well, including a full-service spa occupying the old stables.
It’s not every day a new luxury boutique hotel opens in Provence, especially not one set on a winemaking estate surrounded by acres of organic vineyards and finely manicured gardens. Château de la Gaude’s estate isn’t new, and neither is the stunning farmhouse that anchors the property, on a hillside just outside of Aix-en-Provence. What is new, however, are the Château’s seventeen rooms and suites, spread across the various buildings of the charming, village-like estate.
The interiors retain an extraordinary amount of period detail — rooms in the Bastide, a registered historic monument, feature ornately figured moldings and carved stone fireplaces. What’s new, however, is very new: high-end contemporary furniture, modern fixtures, even some subtly high-tech comforts. The result is a state-of-the-art small luxury hotel with centuries of personality.