24-hour room service: Villa St Elma, Les Issambres, France

The Cote d'Azur has always been a curiously tricky place to find a romantic hotel. If you happen to be an oil magnate, you can choose from all manner of glitzy hotels. But those of lesser means can end up pushed inland, away from the beaches, or stuck in characterless modern places, which might as well be in Newbury. The Villa St Elme is the exception so it comes as little surprise that the owner spent years looking for the site. Perched on the coast between St Tropez and Cannes, this is an area that is dotted with beautiful villas but, until recently, few nice hotels.

The Cote d'Azur has always been a curiously tricky place to find a romantic hotel. If you happen to be an oil magnate, you can choose from all manner of glitzy hotels. But those of lesser means can end up pushed inland, away from the beaches, or stuck in characterless modern places, which might as well be in Newbury. The Villa St Elme is the exception so it comes as little surprise that the owner spent years looking for the site. Perched on the coast between St Tropez and Cannes, this is an area that is dotted with beautiful villas but, until recently, few nice hotels.

The first thing that strikes you is it really is on the sea, below the coast road that winds between the towns. You could dive in to the Mediterranean straight from your bedroom - though you'd break your nose in the shallow water - and the view is utterly tranquil, with nothing but calm, blue water.

The windows of the dining room, similarly poised on the water's edge, face a different direction and, in the evenings, the lights of St Tropez illuminate the distance beyond the bay. There is a small public beach 50 yards away from the hotel but we preferred the hotel's seawater swimming pool, just above the waves, with a waitress returning with endless refills of refreshing Rosé de Provence.

Hotel dining ought to be compulsory at the Villa St Elme. Angling for a Michelin star, the chef produced a savagely gorgeous tournedos with foie gras and black truffles, in a sauce of mourvedre, the juicy local red grape. Breakfast was not really an option after that, but those who did take it were sitting on a sunny terrace with a view of the sea and the hills, all lined with pine forests.

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

The hotel is at Corniche des Issambres, 83380 Les Issambres, France, 00 33 494 49 52 52, www.saintelme.com.

If you feel like posing, the Villa St Elme is about 15km from St Tropez. You'll need a car to get around, though. It's 45 minutes' drive from Nice's international airport; rental car is the only way.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

The jacuzzi was so relaxing I wanted to sleep in it but the bed, a four poster, commanded views out of three windows in three directions, and because I couldn't see land beneath me it felt like being on a ship. Some hotels are good bases for exploring a surrounding region. Others provide every facility to help you relax. At the St Elme it's just the simple life: jacuzzis, lounging by the pool, lunch on the terrace, strolls on the beach and astounding dinners. They say there are plenty of sights nearby, but, frankly, when you're in a hotel like this, who cares?

Freebies: I failed to persuade the maid to give me a lifetime's supply of the Bulgari bath gel, but we did get a complimentary glass of vintage pink champagne.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms cost from £100 to more than £300 per night; be sure to ask for one with a view.

I'm not paying that: The Hostellerie Berard, 45 minutes' drive westwards, is another flag-carrier of Provençal cuisine. It's a beautiful old village house 3km from the beach in La Cadiere d'Azur. Doubles start at £51 per night. Contact 00 33 494 90 11 43.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Corporate Sales Manager, High Wycombe

    £30K- £35K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil