This very characterful hotel, formed from a historic mansion and adjoining townhouse, is just a short stroll to the harbour of Saint Martin de Ré.

The owners Pierre and Florence Pallardy had visited the island for many years and even gazed with curiosity at the forlorn and neglected building that would one day become their next adventure. It was a true coup de foudre– they fell in love with the house– and in 1996 they were able to buy the property and set about the daunting task of creating a true guest-house experience for visitors to the beautiful Ile de Ré.

It’s not surprising they were seduced by the potential of this fine old building, an 18th century manoir once gifted by Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette and built upon the site of the original chateau of the first Baronnie de Ré. But in the early days potential was all it had, and it took four years of painstaking restoration to bring the house back to former glories.

Today, the chambre d’hôte is a 4* hotel and spa, boasting many fine rooms, comfortable lounges, terraces and gardens in which to unwind after a day spent on the bikes or beaches of the island.

Yet, despite attentive staff and hotel standards, Le Baronnie still retains much of the laid-back charm of the ideal French guest house. The lounges are stylish, airy and furnished with a mix of French, Dutch and English antiques, with eclectic paintings and artworks set off against painted panelling – the owners clearly have an eye for interior decoration. The friendly barman will mix you a cocktail and bring it to a quiet terrace or corner of the garden. Here you feel you can wander around in shorts and flip-flops and not feel under-dressed; don’t be surprised to find the owners returning on their bikes from a swim or a visit to the marché.

There are many rooms on offer, from standard rooms to luxury suites, nearly all large and decorated in charming French country style with plenty of antique furnishings, toile de jouy bedspreads, drapes and comfortable bathrooms. Typically for an old house, no two rooms are the same so ask if you have specific requirements.

There is a small spa on site which can be reserved for private use by one person or a couple (extra charges apply).

Breakfast can be taken outside on the terrace in fine weather or in the breakfast room. There is no restaurant at the hotel so breakfast is a help yourself affair.

Limited parking is available on the hotel property but parking on the nearby streets is not a problem.

This hotel has beaucoup de charme – perfect if you are looking for a stylish and relaxing stay just minutes from the hustle and bustle of St Martin. It doesn’t have some of your more conventional 4* facilities like air-conditioning, a swimming pool nor room service, but what it lacks in these departments in makes up for with ambiance and a friendly, relaxed vibe.

La Baronnie Hotel & Spa, a member of the Châteaux & Hôtels Collection. 17-21 Rue Baron de Chantal, 17410 Saint Martin de Ré. Tel: +33 (0)5-46-09-21-29. Email: [email protected] Prices from 145 euros/night in a standard room.

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