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

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
Latest stories from i100
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

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Recruitment Consultant (Trainee), Finchley Central, London

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn