Les Roches Rouges has had a makeover and it glows with a newfound confidence. Perched on the rocks of St Raphael just an hour away from Nice, this design-led waterfront hotel is perfect if you're looking to toe the line between the hedonism of the French Riviera and a laid-back retreat.
You're greeted by a Mondrian palette; modernist whitewashed architecture is set against the twinkling sapphires of the Mediterranean - and then there are those egg-yolk yellow 1950s chairs. The colours lull you into a sense of calm as you listen to the gentle lapping of waves against burnt-red rocks - that is, until you realise that the waves are unfurling into a private salt-water infinity pool, and a childlike urge to jump straight in is most certainly forgiven.
As for the interiors, your eyes will dart from rustic terracotta vases filled with lavender and wild wheat to eclectic paintings by local artists and long wooden tables well-stocked with books (hello there, first edition Picasso and Brigitte Bardot biographies) in what the owner told us is "a collaboration with everyone bringing their passion".
With impeccably crisp, white sheets and polaroid pictures dotted next to the bedside table, the 50 rooms are simple yet elegant. Each is individually decorated, underlining the feeling that you could be in somebody's home, with its own memories and stories. The sea rooms are a treat, with an overview of the hotel's primary colours and Tintin's golden island on the horizon. Watching the sun rise from your balcony is a must.
What's for breakfast?
Granola and yoghurt, soft boiled eggs with yolks that match the chairs, a rainbow of fruits, hefty charcuterie board and endless fresh pastries. In their words, this is a place that goes "back to our roots".
How about lunch and dinner?
The rooftop restaurant serves refined Mediterranean dishes that change to reflect the catch of the day. Channel Audrey Tautou in Hors de Prix and slip on your heels for the occasion. Alternatively, enjoy a more relaxed Provençal meal downstairs, where the rich ratatouille is the star of the show. If you're peckish, the beach hut offers light bites to complement your rosé.
Is there a bar?
Both the bar and its menu are a focal point at Les Roches Rouges. Masterfully created by a mixologist who cut his teeth at the Chiltern Firehouse, it's a tough call choosing your tipple - but you can't beat the vin d'orange for a post-swim aperitif.
Snorkel at Ile d'Or (the island that inspired Tintin), unwind in the wellness spa or kick back at the alfresco cinema with the sea as the backdrop. Les Roches lets you be as social or as solitary as you wish.
Things I should know
The hotel is a destination in itself, so don't expect to wander into town on foot.
Within a short walk I can find…
See above - but if you feel like exploring St Raphael, jump in a taxi and head to the main square where you'll find the market. The streets are vibrant in both colour and spirit making for an enjoyable morning jaunt.