Hôtel de Toiras - Relais & Châteaux Île de Ré

Special Edition Grand Award 2010

Andrew Harper
the ile de re is a sandy, pine-forested island just
off France’s Atlantic coast near La Rochelle. Connected to
the mainland by a two-mile bridge, it is peaceful, pretty
and civilized. Perfect for a relaxing summer vacation,
the island also provides a year-round weekend escape
from Paris.
Located in the delightful port of Saint-Martin-de-Ré,
the 20-room Hôtel de Toiras is one of the most appealing
seaside properties anywhere in France. The hotel is run
by the charming Olivia Le Calvez, who met her husband,
Didier, while they were both working at the Four Seasons
George V in Paris. Built during the 16th century of creamy
limestone, it was completely renovated by Le Calvez, who
also individually decorated each room in gentle colors such
as powder blue and celadon, complemented by antique
furniture and 18th century-style wallpaper.
Our light and spacious suite came with a leather
armchair in a sitting room created from an old watchtower,
which provided an ideal perch from which to observe
the activity in the yacht harbor below. The spacious
oak-floored salon featured crown moldings, a working
limestone chimney, a writing desk and a velvet sofa
flanked by Empire armchairs. The separate bedroom had
charming toile de Jouy wallpaper, parquet floors and the
same sublimely comfortable bed found at Four Seasons
hotels. A dressing room with abundant closet space led
to a very large bath with a beautiful black slate floor,
double vanity, old-fashioned claw-foot tub and oversize
stall shower with brown-stenciled cream tiles.
The Hôtel de Toiras has a charming restaurant,
La Table d’Olivia, serving “simple and honest” cuisine.
If they wish, guests are given wicker baskets to take to
the market and the chef then prepares whatever they
bring back. Generally, however, we preferred to enjoy
a glass of wine in the lounge before going out to
dinner at one of the excellent nearby bistros that showcase
fresh and delicious local seafood.