Set back on a country road surrounded by vineyards, the new 15-suite Hôtel Muse offers an edgy 21st-century take on Luxe, Calme et Volupté, just minutes from the seashore where Matisse painted the famous work of that title. But there’s no need to walk there—a vintage Bentley shuttles guests back and forth to the beach. Financed by the Malaysian YTL Corporation, which owns the Pangkor Laut Resort on a coastal island north of Kuala Lumpur, this €20 million boutique hotel aims to offer the best of both worlds. “We’re offering excellent Asian service in a French cocoon,” says Adrian Jossa, the co-manager of the Muse. “We want it to be the French hotel industry equivalent of a Louis Vuitton.”

The luxury treatment kicks in the minute you step into the five-acre landscaped Mediterranean gardens, from high-tech goodies—an iPhone and iPad are delivered on arrival—to the poolside “sun butler” offering an array of protective lotions. Glossy art books grace tables everywhere, and the staff is decked out in style—little navy dresses with lace collars, and faux-tuxedo tee shirts—designed by Alexis Mabille. The extremely comfortable suites, named after famous muses in art and cinema, vary in size; some have private plunge pools and/or vast bathrooms complete with personal massage tables. (The full spa is scheduled to open next season.) The true highlight, though, is the dreamy cabana-style pool and its terrace restaurant, headed by seafood-wizard chef Nicolas Le Toumelin. Best bets are the fresh cod with squid risotto and the sea bass baked in salt crust, but there are also sample dishes from Provence’s “truffle king” Clément Bruno, whose signature dish is creamy truffled potatoes. The excellent house wine is from the neighboring Château des Marres, and if you’re too comfortable to go out clubbing, there’s also an open-air cinema on the pétanque court, under the stars.

Route des Marres, Ramatuelle, 04.94.43.04.40. Suites from €350. website

Originally published in the September 2010 issue of France Today.

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