If you read our “Saints & Sinners of Saint-Tropez” piece, then you know just how much we adored staying at the idyllic Pastis Hotel.
It is one of the most charming boutique hotels with wonderfully decorated rooms and a fabulous location that’s just far enough from the constant crowds and noise without being isolated or inconvenient. A short stroll will lead you right into town when you’re craving that beach-y Tropezian vibe!
We asked the owners John and Pauline to tell us more about the story of Pastis, as well as offer up some local tips.
Meet John & Pauline of Pastis St Tropez
Were you hoteliers previously? What made you purchase the property? What was the name of the property and its state before you took it on?
We were design consultants in London so we are both creative and practical. We were involved in the development of a small number of restaurants in the 80’s. Two that stood out were Soho Brasserie – sadly gone now and Ed’s Diners. But most of our work was for banks and supermarkets, creating brands and user-friendly environments.
The only experience we had of hotels was that we had stayed in a lot, especially in France, and we knew what we liked and didn’t like about them.
As the design world changed, we decided to change our way of life and find a new challenge. We loved coming to the south of France so the idea of moving here was very attractive. The French were busily destroying anything traditionally French and replacing the bars, hotels and restaurants with modern styling that could be anywhere in the world. We thought this crazy and decided to use our experience to create a hotel and bar with a modern Provencal feel, full of visual interest. A place where the guest can feel at home and that would attract the right kind of guests, who in turn would be interesting.
We did a lot of research and much to our surprise found the hotel “Les Chimeres” at the entrance of St Tropez. It had been closed for several years, was run down and more than plain. It was ugly on the roadside but we fell for the “secret” overgrown garden with it’s twelve ancient palm trees, and we could see the potential to sort the buildings out.
We chose to call the hotel Pastis firstly because we wanted something simple, memorable and easy to say for our US and British guests-to-be. We did not want it to be a name that nobody could remember, like Bastide de xxx or Chateau de xxx…Pastis is a type of drink specific to the area.
There was already a very popular French restaurant called Pastis in New York and if you Googled the name Pastis, you came up with “sipping a Pastis in the south of France”, “the local drink of Provence”, and Peter Mayle’s book, “Hotel Pastis”. That suited us as we knew Peter and he was very happy when we told him our name.
Also on our many visits to the South, we had amassed a good collection of Pastis water jugs. We just had to buy a few more from another collector friend and voila! There you have our jug collection displayed at the front entrance.
We spotted some amazing prints and photos across the property. Any photographers that are local?
We have been collectors of art forever and all the paintings, prints and photography are mainly from London and New York. Some of the photographs were gifts from our guests and friends. Terry O’Neal was a neighbour in London and he gave us some prints when he stayed to attend Joan Collins’s birthday party in Saint Tropez.
How many rooms do you have in total and how would you describe your audience?
We have 10 rooms in total which are all different sizes, spread over three buildings.
The rooms all have the same light and airy feel but the furniture, pictures and “objet d’art” give them each their own personality. With only 10 rooms and the number of guests visiting Saint Tropez, it tends to vary each year but our regulars that return each year are mainly Swiss, Austrian, German and US.
We felt very at home at Pastis…In fact it was like a home from home. How do you ensure that guests have a consistent experience and you stand out from other hotels?
The individuality of each room makes the hotel more like a home and the staff play an important role in being friendly and helpful. We try to help our guests get the best out of their stay in Saint Tropez. When we recommend a beach club or restaurant to a guest, it is one we know and have experienced. We try to match the place to the guests’ needs and also we ask for their feedback. If we get poor reviews, we stop sending other guests.
Your favorite spot in Saint-Tropez (perhaps the beach you mentioned that’s off the beaten track)?
To be honest, our all-time favourite is Club 55. We love everything about it. That’s a place where we truly feel at home. But that doesn’t really answer your question.
A much more recent addition to our list is the Plage des Graniers. A small local beach on the far side of the old village in walking distance of Pastis. It’s run by two couples. Lili is the wine expert while husband Jef is the wizard in the kitchen. Boubou and his wife Virginie take care of you with the best welcome ever. They all have a real pride in the food and wine they offer. You can sit with your toes in the sand, really relax and enjoy Jef’s own style of cuisine. They use the best market ingredients, lots of fresh herbs, bright tastes and plates to feast the eyes on.
Favourite restaurant that visitors may not know about?
Couleurs Jardin is about a half-hour’s drive from Saint Tropez at Plage de Gigaro.
It has a wonderful terrace overlooking the sea and, like at Les Graniers, everything is really fresh and delicious.
Any local designers we should highlight?
If you are thinking about building a villa in the Saint Tropez area, architect François Vieillecroze’s knowledge of the style of the region and planning procedures is second to none.
GAS Bijoux for jewellery.
Sasha de Saint Tropez for colourful prints of Brigitte Bardot, Steve McQueen, Jagger, Marylin Monroe, David Bowie and other icons famous to Saint Tropez. You can also request personal portrait commissions and get graphic paintings of you or your family in a style similar to Andy Warhol.
Stefan Szczesny is a local artist whose cut-out shadow sculptures are now exhibited on the hill around the citadel (Fortress).
An additional note from The Caviar Spoon
As the market and travel landscape continues to change, Pastis is moving beyond being “just” a hotel. Pauline mentioned their ability to host a variety of events, from intimate weddings to anniversary parties to birthday get-togethers. It really would be the perfect place for a family or group of friends to take over for a few days – it’s private, cosy, and well-located.
Plus, Pauline and John are excellent hosts and can offer their expertise and help plan out the entire stay.
Here’s a sample itinerary (taken from their daughter’s wedding celebrations, which was held at Pastis):
The main guests and friends stayed at Pastis and the others in nearby hotels.
Friday night: drinks and buffet supper at Pastis, with a Boules competition in the car park
Saturday (day): guests spent the day exploring and passing time as they pleased
Saturday (evening): the wedding service took place at Mairie (the town hall), after which everyone walked through the village back to Pastis for a champagne reception and speeches
Saturday (night): a red London bus took everyone to Cabane Bambou beach restaurant for the party (they partied until 3 in the morning!)
Sunday: brunch at Pastis with one long table that stretched all the way down the driveway, with live music by The Monarchs (one of the bands that plays at Club 55)
We really can’t say enough good things about Pastis Hotel! Rest assured that you’ll feel absolutely at home in your room and that Pauline and John, along with the rest of their staff, will take absolute good care of you from the moment you arrive until the very last second of your stay.
Don’t forget to check out our “Saints & Sinners of Saint-Tropez” destination guide for tips on how to make the most of your time there!