Hands down, Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez, France is home of my favorite hotel room of all time for so many reasons. This 5-star hotel is a 19th century chateau sitting on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Saint-Tropez, vineyards of Ramatuelle, and the Mediterranean. It's just a short ride to the center of Saint-Tropez and to the private Tropézina beach.
I stayed in a junior suite and loved the terracotta tile floors and Italian-inspired decorations. The canopied bed with soft white billowing curtains added that touch of the exotic. My private extra-large terrace with sweeping views of the sea in the distance was one of my room's highlights. The large bath was welcome in Europe and those big fluffy white bath towels were luxurious.
Of course, part of the draw is Chateau de la Messardiere's location in the south of France, but it's more than that. The hotel is beautiful and the grounds are exquisite. I enjoyed photographing the trees and flowers. There are spectacular views from the terraces. The food is incredible French fare served with fine French wines on lovely china. But the thing that made this the perfect experience for me was the staff.
At the time I visited Chateau de la Messardiere, it was under the direction of Gerald Hardy. Mr. Hardy had managed the Chateau since it opened as a hotel and loved the property as if it were his child. Mr. Hardy left a legacy that I hope the staff will continue in honor of his dedication. But the rest of the staff was fabulous as well.
One example came in the wee hours during my stay, close to 2 a.m. I couldn't sleep. All I wanted was a cup of hot tea. I hesitated to call and ask as this isn't a big hotel and I knew the kitchen was closed. I finally called the front desk and asked if there was any way to get a pot of hot water. I always carry a few tea bags with me, so I hoped this would be a good compromise. They were most gracious and assured me someone would be right up to my room. In less than 10 minutes, a young man arrived with a lovely china tea pot filled with hot water. There was also a basket of several varieties of exceptional European teas, a jar of honey, a pot of cream, a cup of homemade chocolate candies from the restaurant, and even a single rose in a bud vase. I don't know how they did that so fast, especially when the kitchen was closed, or why they went to so much trouble, but it made this tired writer most grateful and brought a huge smile to my face.
That is what makes an already great hotel exceptional and why Chateau de la Messardiere always holds a special place in my heart and — so far — remains my favorite stay.