A stunning hotel in the stunning — and not touristy — town of St.-Rémy.
A 17th-century palace in the heart of St.-Rémy-de-Provence (formerly the Hotel d’Almeran) has been beautifully and conscientiously renovated as a boutique hotel with seven custom-designed suites, each featuring handcrafted furniture.
Opened in May 2015, the Hotel de Tourrel has a design aesthetic that tends toward minimalist white and sand-colored hues to showcase the original architecture (including elements like 16th-century sandstone floor tiles in the foyer), but the furnishings tend toward the soft and cozy, with colorful chairs by Eileen Gray and tables by Konstantin Grcic.
Pale, wide-plank parquet floors and muted, lush linens and natural fabrics are features of each room. One room, Numero Deux, with its original marble fireplace, is the palais’ former salon, where, according to the hotel, Gounod’s opera “Mireille” is said to have premiered in 1863. The most stunning feature is the hotel’s central staircase, with high sandstone arches.
It’s hard to imagine a more central location, amid the winding alleyways that make up the charming old city. The sandstone roof terrace, which has an outdoor pool with waterfall and wave features, offers views of the Alpilles, the foothills of the Alps. As one of the less trendy, less touristy towns of Provence, St.-Rémy still has the easy feel of a somewhat undiscovered destination, with a mixture of upscale boutiques and restaurants and many more basic shops and cafés for a quick bite.
Local points of interest include the St.-Paul-de-Mausole hospital grounds, or the “asylum” where Vincent van Gogh was treated, and where he painted many of his famous works (a 15-minute stroll outside the city center), as well as the Roman ruins at Glanum, a fortified city dating to the sixth century B.C.
From 379 euros (about $423).
My junior suite was one of the smaller ones at 323 square feet, but left me feeling in no way shortchanged. It was tastefully, minimally designed with two modern aquamarine lounge chairs, a circular glass table and a side table that converted into a desk. Its flat-screen television miraculously became no more than a white-framed mirror when it was turned off. I was most charmed by the king-size bed with a perfectly weighted duvet cover of natural fabrics, which provided me with what was probably the most restful sleep I’ve had in years. The only problematic feature was a digitalized system to control the lighting and air-conditioning, which I couldn’t figure out how to use properly.
This was a white, marbled open-plan space with new chrome fixtures; the shower had a rain showerhead and a hand-held one. All manner of L’Occitane lotions and bath soaps were on offer, along with padded slippers and thick white robes.
Guests all have access to the stunning outdoor pool. Wi-Fi is free. Adjacent to the downstairs restaurant, which has a small bar and lounge area, is a full wine cellar, offering an array of exclusive regional and international wine varietals.
The restaurant, run by the chef Laurent Brunacci, features fusion epicurean fare and adventurous tapas dishes that seemed to bring together elements of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. But the kitchen is driven by what’s fresh at the local markets, and so the menu changes seasonally. Main courses start at 26 euros.
This kind of luxury doesn’t come cheap, but you will indeed feel privileged to stay here.