Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Pan Deï Palais

France

Perfectly positioned in the heart of Saint-Tropez village

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Pan Deï Palais
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Pan Deï Palais

Location

Rue Gambetta, Saint-Tropez, between Place de Lices and the Port

Travel Information

Fly to Nice or Marseille airports

Top Tips

A short walk to the Port and a seat at Sennequier for the best people watching in town

5-Star X-Factors

The perfect location, a magic pool and an exotic twist on the sexiest fishing village in the world

The Saint-Tropez twist

Saint-Tropez is, almost certainly, the most famous fishing village in the world, but while few fishermen land their rouget, dourade and loup de mer here these days, there are plenty of glistening yachts bestowing the pretty port with cargo of an altogether more pampered species.

Having stayed in Saint-Tropez just about every year for the past thirty or more, I discovered long ago that there are two ways to enjoy this unique village (assuming you don’t own a yacht): book a hotel in the heart of the village and forget the car; or reside outside, but stay within easy reach, while avoiding the busy road to and from Sainte-Maxime at all costs, especially in high season.

PERFECTLY POSITIONED PALAIS

If staying in the village there is nowhere more civilised or enticing than exotic Pan Deï Palais in Rue Gambetta, between Place des Lices, with its market days and boules playing, and the bustling port. This is a Perfect position with a capital ‘P’. The quiet pool-view rooms look out over the garden with its lovely pool and soaring palms to Rue Francois Sibilli, where you will find the shishiest shops in town. From here, everywhere worth seeing is within a five minute stroll and when you want to head for the beach, the concierge orders a taxi. If you have brought a car, a valet will park it and return it for use at will. As they are used to Bentleys and Ferraris, you really won’t worry about your Hertz.

Pan Deï Palais’ story is a fascinating one. Apparently – and there is visual evidence of this throughout the mansion – a French general visiting the Punjab fell in love with a young Indian girl, Princess Bannu Pan Dei. While generals falling for teenagers is not exactly politically correct these days, this was the nineteenth century and things were different then. On returning to France, General Allard built the residence in Rue Gambetta for his princess and their 5 children and in 1835 the family moved in.

In 2016 Pan Deï Palais celebrated 10 years as a 5-star luxury hotel, combining its romantic past with today’s Relais & Chateaux reality.

A ROMANTIC KARMA

We stayed in a second floor Chambre Prestige with a lovely view over the garden, palms and pool – which very cleverly disappears beneath the courtyard at night, transforming into a courtyard dancefloor. Prestige rooms can be combined with smaller Standard rooms for families.

Every room is an effortless fusion of contemporary comfort and Indian exoticism, creating a uniquely romantic karma. Fine silks and fabrics and the softest cottons are designed to pamper and exotic artworks and antique furniture create a palpable sense of the orient and the love affair which founded this palatial story. If you are after a different take on Saint-Tropez, this palace is the place to be. The Shanti suit on the top floor has even more space with 2 bedrooms and even finer views from its lovely terrace.

Of course, being in the centre of the village means a stroll to the port for an Americano at Sennequier is a doddle, as long as you’re not distracted by the cornucopia of trend-setting boutiques St-Trop is so famous for. Once there, watching the world go by at Sennequier, or from the balcony at the Yacht Club at Hotel Sube, is one of the most amusing ways to while away an hour or two. This is where Bardot made her mark in ‘When God created Woman’ and people have been watching people here ever since…

We last visited in early March, when the off-season vibe is still pronounced and the ratio of locals to visitors is at its highest. The sun shone each day with long lunches enjoyed on the beach at Key West which, like Pan dei Palais, is open all year. Others, including our long-term favourite Club 55, open later in March.

Restaurants in town are a little trickier off-season, too, with many re-opening in time for Easter, but the hotel restaurant combines fine local products with Asian flavours, prettily presented in a sumptuous dining room. The garden bar plays to its own groove and is the place to enjoy a pre-prandial or a digestif with view of the mansion and the pool, all expertly lit along with the palms.

The spa features treatments by the Swiss brand Cellocosmet for cellular treatments for face and body and, as this is Saint-Tropez, you can obtain pretty much everything else you might want in this world within a stone’s throw.

Pan Deï Palais' staff are without doubt some of the friendliest and most helpful in town, without a hint of St-Trop strop found elsewhere. Everyone has a genuine smile to share.

SAINT-TROPEZ OVER MY SHOULDER

Looking back after all these years I continue to find Saint-Tropez’s unique charm incredibly appealing, being quantifiably sexier and more laid-back than other Cote d’Azur resorts. The St-Tropez vibe may have been emulated far and wide but, for those-in-the-know, there will only ever be one St-Trop.

So if you haven’t been in a while, you must visit again, preferably in May or September when the town is at its best, the big crowds have not yet arrived and the weather is beautiful. If visiting for only a few days, then Pan Deï Palais allows you to make the most of your time in this most famous of fishing villages, and adds an intoxicating exotic twist to the St-Trop experience.

Peter Matthews
Peter Matthews


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer