Well, this was a first. In all the years of hunting down #caviarmoments across the globe, I can’t say I’ve ever been welcomed with a stonking image proclaiming “Fuck who doesn’t like this place”.
Did I shudder at such a welcome? Walk away in disgust? Nope, I let go of one mighty howl of laughter with an inner fist pump and couldn’t wait to drop my bags to explore.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Shangtasia Luxury Art Rooms, the brain child of famous (and rather risqué!) artist Philippe Shangti who has the most genius creative talent mixed with a savvy commercial head.
Shangtasia is located in the village of Grimaud, about 10 km outside of central Saint-Tropez. The thought of being so far from the Tropezian action might make you wince at first but you’ll be wincing even more when you find out what you missed out on if you don’t spend a few nights here!
Now let’s rewind with a little background on how we found ourselves in Philippe Shangti’s creative playground of a guesthouse. Having Saint-Tropez engrained in my heart, I return without fail every year to lap up the Bardot vibes. My mood board includes a future property here and each time I visit, it feels like I make more and more genuine friends. It’s magnetic and I love it!
To those who say that Ibiza and Mykonos have taken over, I hand to heart will argue otherwise. In fact, I wouldn’t even bunch them together. Mykonos and Ibiza are probably head-to-head but Saint-Tropez has, and will always have, that sex appeal you just can’t compete with. It’s an enigmatic combination of crazy and classic and entirely in its own category.
And that’s exactly how I stumbled upon Philippe’s work. A few years back, I was sipping on my Porn Star Martini(s) at the legendary L’Opéra, where Philippe is the creative mind behind the brand, in addition to Le Quai. You’ll see his artwork splashed all over the place and where others simply looked at it, said “that’s cool”, and moved on, I said, “I want to know this guy!”. In true #rebelleboss Pra fashion, I made good on my words, which brings us to now.
Shangtasia is just over a year old and is the numero uno villa museum that refuses to be anything but unique. There’s a reason why Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” was part of the inspiration for this place. (Put that together with Philippe’s surname and you get where they came up with the name, right?) Shangtasia is in a class of its own.
Rule #1: if you call this place a hotel, boutique hotel, or anything with “ho” and “tel” in it, you’ll quickly be corrected by Pierre, Philippe’s younger brother and manager of Shangtasia, and his partner Camille.
These host extraordinaires pour their heart and soul into running the place every single day. The property holds a 600 m2 house and a 5000 m2 garden, all of which was entirely thought up by Philippe Shangti to build a true museum concept.
Being a new business, the luxury of having staff is still in the future but for now, Pierre and Camille are not only the hosts but also ambassadors for their family’s work.
Just over two years ago, Philippe was inspired to do something different with his villa in Grimaud. As his concept of a villa museum came together, he gave Pierre and Camille the option to take on the challenge of their lives by entering the business world and starting up Shangtasia.
The villa encompasses the life and work of Philippe and it was important to him that the project be kept in the confident hands of family. He completely redesigned and renovated the villa sans architect and while Pierre and Camille handle the day-to-day, Philippe continues to advise and guide them as Shangtasia continues to develop.
This place oozes Philippe throughout and they’ve done a fabulous job of spearheading the guest experience. This is the exact reason why we spend hours hunting for these #caviarmoments – to lure you off the beaten track for unique experiences you won’t find just anywhere.
Staying at Shangtasia means you should expect the unexpected. Take a step back from the known and spend a few days in the unknown, all while appreciating the art that surrounds you.
From the outside, it looks like a very well-designed property with its grand gates. These open up to reveal the villa museum guesthouse, a place that is the effigy of Philippe Shangti. Once inside, you’ll go tumbling headfirst into the world of Shangtasia.
When you walk in through the doors, straight ahead of you (in addition to the colourful welcome message) is an image of some very classy middle fingers wrapped in rope. What could put off us standoffish Brits has been done so provocatively that you end up loving it. (Even my very prim mother liked this photo!!) An array of Philippe’s work is scattered around the house, coupled with a table football machine, sofas that you can collapse into, and a wall of fame that put Pra to shame!
I thought I had a great network but a glance at this wall reveals black and white photos of Philippe casually hanging out with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Geri Halliwell, Sylvester Stallone, and Tara Reid. And before you get the wrong idea, let me just say that Philippe is as unpretentious as they come. You’d think that rubbing shoulders with celebrities, being a famous artist, and working with beautiful women would go to a man’s head but not Philippe.
When he is in Saint-Tropez overseeing the restaurants and his other projects, Philippe lives on the first floor of Shangtasia. He is as humble as Pierre and Camille, and together they form a strong family unit with solid values, who just want to take the lead and leave their own mark on the world.
In every room you will let out a little gasp – a regular hallway turns into a gallery, decorated with the most intriguing art work. The kitchen looks ordinary at eye level, but then you look down at the floor and see what looks like an explosive rocket encapsulated in glass. A closer look at the crockery on the countertop reveals more of Philippe’s provocative work on each plate.
Don’t think for a second that anything is at it seems here – take your time to explore and look a little harder!
Accommodating and welcoming, Pierre and Camille were fantastic throughout and you can tell that running Shangtasia is their pride and joy. Emails are replied to quickly, the property is kept spotless, the gardens are impeccable. They are up at the crack of dawn to make sure you are fed and watered and act as your personal concierge if you need to book restaurants (we had the best table at L’Opera!).
We all know starting a business, especially in this field, is damn hard. The competition is rife and brand strength all comes down to the people behind the brand, which is why the team here deserve a massive high five. With Philippe’s completely innovative concept leading the way, and Pierre and Camille’s dedication to carrying through on the artist’s vision, it’s made for a unique and truly immersive experience.
And, as the sign says, fuck who doesn’t like this place!
There are four luxury art rooms, all uniquely themed. The Cat Room is plastered with Batman references, including a Cat Woman photo by Philippe; the Ciné Room is styled after a movie theatre; the Levitation Room is bright and white (a complete contrast to the moodiness of the Cine Room); and the Tag Room is splashed with a classy street art theme.
I love Cat Woman, so from the beginning, I had my eye on the Cat Room. You can imagine my delight when I found out I was staying in that room! The Cat Woman print on the wall here was what initially caught my attention…let’s just say she was being a little naughty and clearly liked partying! 😉
This room is the smaller of the bunch and the bathroom (fully decked out with Batman memorabilia) isn’t en-suite but just across the hallway. In this way, it truly does feel like a home, but in the best way possible.
There’s also ample wardrobe space for the size of the bedroom, and you’ll also have toiletries, a fridge with water and sodas, and some coffee capsules for the Nespresso machine in the kitchen. It would have been great to have some nibbles in the fridge or an honesty kitchen as we didn’t have a car and didn’t really fancy leaving the property, but this is something I’m sure will be included as time goes on. (It’s just a small detail that’s hardly worth crying over, really!)
In the morning, you can lap up the rays outside as you nibble on breakfast with chill Café del Mar-esque tracks playing in the background. Pierre and Camille will indulge you with a simple spread of fresh fruit, pastries, eggs with a muffin, all strategically placed on more delectable crockery and served at a long bench seat table. Since there are only four rooms here, this kind of bed and breakfast seating is an ideal way to meet other guests.
Oh, and if you see a purple dinosaur peering over at you from the patio…well, I told you to expect the unexpected!
Shangtasia isn’t yet at a stage to offer other meals and amenities but with only two people on hand, a hearty breakfast was more than enough! Come afternoon pool time, though, the tummies were gurgling a bit. I’d love to see some local delivery menus on hand for guests to order at their convenience.
If you fancy a tipple, Shangtasia has a small collection of unique wines for $28. The rosé was just right for a chill afternoon and went straight onto my Vivino app!
Shangtasia doesn’t have a spa but you really don’t need one. There’s a jacuzzi, as well as a gorgeous pool with super comfy loungers where you can unwind while working on that golden Tropez tan. If you’re looking for a zen moment, take a walk around the lake and watch the fish lazily swimming around. You’ll be in total meditation mode in no time.
The gardens are stunning both day and night and I encountered some of Shangtasia’s best delights here. I would discover amazing art work tucked away in various corners of the beautifully designed garden. It brought back that fun anticipation of Father Christmas filling up your crimbo stocking as a child.
If you’re feeling sporty, there’s a pétanque court where you can try your hand at the game, which is in the same family as bocce but with different rules. It turns out that not only is Philippe dedicated to the sport but his father is also a great pétanque player.
Saint-Tropez is roughly 10 km/20 minutes away and hiring a driver/car will easily cost you around 50 Euros each way (eek!). Instead of going back and forth, plan for a laidback 3-4 nights here where you can hang out in and explore Port Grimaud instead. This was the first year I split venues and am so glad that I had the opportunity to experience a new location outside of Saint-Tropez!
Port Grimaud is about 1.5 km away, so a leisurely 20-minute stroll will bring you to the heart of the village.
Save that trip to Saint-Tropez for the day (and night) you’re able to book a table at L’Opera and Le Quai. Both of these hot spots are seriously good fun and it’s a complete visual feast between Philippe’s art work and the talented and gorgeous entertainment!
Pierre and Camille recommend trying out jet skiing (one of their favourite activities) and if you ask them, they’ll happily recommend where to try it out, as well as a fantastic Italian family restaurant nearby.
If you’re in Saint-Tropez in October and love to shop, keep an eye out for some fabulous clearance sales. Again, if you ask Pierre and Camille, they’ll probably be able to give you the inside scoop on the best sales and brands!
…or an Instagram-worthy shot, lounge by the pool with Mr. Dinosaur casually towering in the background, or simply grab photos of you being surrounded by Philippe’s art work! Every piece is so provocative, visually stunning, and/or unexpected that you can’t go wrong.
Shangtasia is the epitome of laidback luxury so toss the heels and just chill. Throw on a perfectly fitted swimsuit and kaftan as you relax around the pool and sip on some rosé. My Evarae outfit was just the right match for Shangtasia!
Shangtasia celebrated its first birthday on June 5, 2018, and let me tell you…we dig hard and research harder and can confirm that these guys are the talk of the town!
To Philippe, Pierre, and Camille who stand by the “Fuck who doesn’t like this place” sentiment, I only have one thing to say in response:
I fucking LOVE this place!!!
14 Avenue des Geais, Grimaud