This underrated French Destination offers Sandy Beaches, Vineyards, and Picturesque Villages

Discover Doubled Elegance in the Ile de Ré, France at L’Hôtel de Toiras and Villa Clarisse

City Style and Living Spring 2024 Ile de Re cobblestone street
/ Courtesy Villa Clarissa

Where is Ile de Re?

The Ile de Ré, south of Nantes and just off the coast from La Rochelle in mid-western France, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its salt-marshes, pristine beaches, lighthouse, and seventeenth-century fortifications. The island is criss-crossed with cycle paths – but it is also known as ‘the 21st arrondissement of Paris’ – a sanctuary for the laid-back, for nature-lovers, and for the very well-heeled.

Loved by the cognoscenti, Ile de Ré is just four hours from Paris by car,  a one and a half hour flight from London, or an effortless train journey: Eurostar to Paris and an easy onward connection of around three hours. 

City Style and Living Spring 2024 Ile de Re France harbour
/ Courtesy Hotel Torais

Claiming to enjoy as many hours of sunshine as the South of France, it’s  a more low-key alternative to its southern sister, with salt marshes, sandy beaches, cycle paths, cornfields, vineyards, and picturesque villages that offer endless exploration for all ages and interests. There are 140 kilometres of cycle paths, 10 quaint villages, splendid landscapes, 13 beaches and an elegant, star-shaped port with cobbled streets and restaurants that spill out onto the pavements.

Here in picturesque Saint-Martin-de-Ré are two of the loveliest places to stay:  L’Hôtel de Toiras and its sister hotel, Villa Clarisse: both cool and quiet, but also cosy – masterclasses in design, hospitality, gastronomy and (new for 2024 at Villa Clarisse), spa.

City Style and Living Spring 2024 Ile de Re Hotel Torais Chairs and garden
/ Courtesy Hotel Torais

City Style and Living Spring 2024 Ile de Re Hotel Torais Sitting Area
/ Courtesy Hotel Torais

Best Hotels in Ile de Ré

L’Hôtel de Toiras

This meticulously restored 17th-century merchant’s house with just 18 individually-designed guest rooms and suites, L’Hotel de Toiras is celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer. The hotel was renovated recently in partnership with designer Pierre-Yves Rochon including a new lobby, lounge, bar and restaurant with a large terrace reaching out to the harbour. Here, glamour meets classic elegance…

George’s restaurant is both chic and relaxed, with a modern, multicultural menu sourcing local produce. During the day, and with music by Maison Sérieuse, it also functions as a breakfast spot, wine cellar and cocktail bar.  La Cave de Clarisse offers guests the opportunity to purchase the finest wines produced at the owners’ vineyards in Saint-Emilion: Château Clarisse.    

Nightly rates from €320 in a Deluxe Room (room-only); For special offers, either romantic, gourmet, family, private events and more, please visit:

City Style and Living Spring 2024 Ile de Re Villa Clarissa Suite
/ Courtesy Villa Clarissa

Villa Clarisse & Spa

A stunning 18th century mansion recently meticulously renovated to become a stripped-back haven of well-being and relaxation. Decorated with cool fabrics and understated design, Villa Clarisse reflects the blanched style of the Ile de Ré where all shutters and doors must be painted in one of just 12 permitted colours.

Wake up to the freshest breakfast, served fireside during the cooler months, before the discreet, on-hand hotel team arrange bicycle hire or curate your island exploration. This is a serene yet informal retreat with fresh and understated interiors dominated by white: it has just nine airy rooms and suites overlooking a sunny patio garden as well as a heated outdoor swimming pool. New for 2024 is a lush garden extension to be completed in May and a two-treatment-room spa and hammam for both single or double occupancy, using the A List’s favourite eco-friendly, plant-based luxury: products by Olivier Claire. 

Nightly rates at Villa Clarisse from €360 in a Premium Room (room-only)

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