La Baronnie Hotel & Spa

Saint-Martin de Re, Ile de Re, France Book from Eur149

Reviewed by Judy Naftulin
This elegant grande dame and her more intimate little sister ooze history, comfort and style in chic Saint Martin, with leafy, rose-speckled gardens
Just a few steps from the centre of bustling Saint Martin, Ile de Ré’s oh-so-pretty capital and main town, lies a huge iron gate; step inside and you enter French history. This is La Baronnie - a stone mansion with an 18th-century baronial pedigree. Next door lies the more intimate and less imposing Domaine du Bien-Etre; together, they form a wonderfully peaceful hideaway. More like private homes than hotels, they have been sympathetically restored by Pierre and Florence Pallardy - he a famed osteopath, she a model turned interior designer - who have kept their histories intact without forgetting about guests' comfort.

La Baronnie is regal and elegant, inside and out. Think summer home away from the palace (albeit on a smaller scale) and you’ll be about right, though the ambiance is not at all royal, more well-to-do. The restful Domaine du Bien-Etre (‘House of Well-Being’) is less grand but no less beautiful, with the same traditional French décor and original features. Both have a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere, bucolic views and huge bedrooms with plenty of natural light. Outside, the fabulous gardens, rampant with wisteria and roses, offer peace and tranquility under shady pine and fruit trees. Venture through the front door and within minutes you can be sitting in a cosy restaurant, browsing through the chic boutiques that line the streets of Saint Martin, or ambling along the town’s picturesque harbour.

Highs

  • Both buildings are historic gems, with fascinating interiors and personal touches everywhere
  • The ambiance is homely, restful and very welcoming, and the quiet gardens are ideal for relaxing away from the island’s summertime crowds
  • This is a great location, with the harbour and all that Saint Martin offers just moments away
  • The owners and housekeepers really know the island inside out and have lots of suggestions for your time here
  • The small spa offers beauty treatments, relaxing massages and osteopathic consultations

Lows

  • The 18th-century décor is a bit sober and heavy-looking, which may not appeal to those on a beach holiday
  • The Pallardys and their staff can sometimes be hard to track down - don't expect 24-hour service
  • Rooms at the front overlook the street and may be a little noisy, particularly during high season

Best time to go

Any time of year, depending on just how quiet you want it and what you want to do. The island gets busier in the peak months of July and August, which are best for sunbathing. For blustery coastal walks and total silence, autumn is perfect. Swimming and watersports are generally possible from mid-June to mid-September. La Baronnie often closes during winter.

Our top tips

This really is a great place for a romantic weekend or a chilled-out family getaway. Come for a week and you’ll have time to explore beautiful Ile de Ré, browse its many markets and boutiques and relax in the gardens.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 22
  • Breakfast only
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 1 Sep 2015 - 23 Mar 2016
  • Indoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Rooms in both buildings are large with high ceilings and big windows, and their names - La Reine, Le Roy, Milady, Buckingham - hint at the level of grandeur you can expect. Those in La Baronnie have antique woodwork, metres of period-style fabric and deep-pile rugs to give you that lord-of-the-manor feel; those in Bien-Etre are generally more rustic, with tongue-and-groove panelling and pastel colours. Most have queensize or twin beds, with triples and family rooms sleeping 4 also available.

Our favourite room in La Baronnie was Madame de Sévigne, a Superior Room with opulent 18th-century style and wonderfully verdant views. The turret room, Tour des Amis, was our least favourite: the space is tight, there are steep stairs and the décor is very simple, though it's the only room with a view to the sea. The less expensive courtyard rooms are also lovely, but you trade the terrific green view for a cobblestone one. These are Family Rooms, some ideal for a couple with a child, others sleeping 4 in a double bed and bunk beds.

In Bien-Etre we particularly liked Le Loft, a Luxe Room with glorious garden views, a bright interior and ample space for lounging around. Also especially appealing is the romantic Pavilion Princesse, another Luxe Room, which has a four-poster bed and is hidden away in the garden. We stayed in a Superior Family Room, Rose de Parme - beautiful in a restrained, almost English country house way, with cream walls and fabulous pink toile soft furnishings. It has 1 double bed and 2 singles (all deliciously comfortable), the latter set back in a sweet curtained recess to give more privacy.

Bathrooms throughout are decently sized and well-equipped, but not extravagant. Most have showers only; all have hairdryers. There's no air conditioning, but the proximity to the sea keeps the temperatures from getting too sultry.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfast is served buffet-style in the dining room or, weather-permitting, in the gardens. It's a traditional, simple French spread: croissants and jam, fresh bread, cheese, ham, eggs, fruit, coffee and fresh orange juice. Paper napkins have replaced linen ones - unfortunate but understandable, since on-premise laundering uses so much water.

Tea time in the garden, or anytime for that matter, is very relaxing and comes with biscuits, if you ask. There's no room service, but each room has a minibar with soft drinks and you can order coffee throughout the day; there's also a bar for wine and evening aperitifs.

No other meals are served, but there are plenty of restaurants in lively Saint Martin. Good recommendations include Bistro du Marin for lunch, La Sarassin St Martin for delicious galettes, and Le Serghi for dinner. All are located near the harbour, just a short stroll away.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Rent a bicycle (there’s a 10% discount for guests at Yootoo in Saint Martin) and venture forth to explore - the Pallardys really know their island and will recommend the best beaches, their favourite restaurants (simple or gourmet) and the most interesting sights. Most importantly, they'll tell you how you to avoid the summer crowds
  • Wander past Saint Martin’s pretty 17th-century blue and green shuttered townhouses, with flowers out front, visit the church of St Marie and stop off at Vauban's citadel
  • Lick a cone, sip a glass of wine or try Ré's own micro-brewed beer at one of the many quayside cafés
  • Enjoy a stroll through the daily markets which take place in any of the villages in summer, browse Saint Martin’s chic boutiques for stylish presents, or head to pretty La Flotte for lunch and a spot of antiquing
  • Ile de Ré has some beautiful beaches - perfect for sunbathing or for long windswept walks
  • Visit Bois-Plage (3km away) for surfing and sailing (summer only); stop off on the way for a game of tennis at the club en route
  • Go bird-watching on the reserve near Ars (15km away)
  • Play golf at Les Portes (15km away), or hire a boat from Saint Martin to go fishing
  • Back at the guesthouse, find a shaded spot amid the flowers in the peaceful gardens and enjoy a good book, or head to the small Spa Bien-Etre for a massage or a few laps in the counter-current pool (a watery version of a treadmill)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Nightlife
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Windsurfing

Kids

The décor is not the most child-friendly, but kids of all ages are welcome. Parents had their children on quite a tight rein when we visited, but this might change during family holiday time (mid-July to September).

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

A variety of Family and Superior Family Rooms with combinations of double, single and bunk beds are on offer, baby cots and extra beds are available on request, and babysitting can be arranged.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Families Should Know:

No under 18s are allowed to use the spa facilities.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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