Photo: Hotel Epi 1959

Hotel ÉPi 1959 Showcases the French Riviera's Style, Sun, and Cuisine

France Epic Stays
by Hannah D. Cooper May 20, 2024

1959. Alaska and Hawaii received statehood, the Barbie doll debuted at the New York Toy Fair, and the arrival of Épi Plage caused ripples among the French Riviera jet set.

Inches from the sun-soaked shores of Pampelonne Bay (Brigitte Bardot’s favorite beach), the opening of this five-star boutique club and hotel was received with starry success during the golden 1960s. Épi Plage was masterminded by the nightclub magnate Jean Castel who, having conquered Parisian nightlife, turned his eye to the boom in Saint-Tropez tourism. Johnny Halladay spent the night, Audrey Hepburn was a fan.

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2019. Sixty years later, luxury interior designer Monica Damonte and celebrated landscape architect Madison Cox were tasked with recapturing the mythology of ‘60s St Tropez for the modern adventurer. The rejuvenated and rebranded Hotel Épi 1959 is truly epic but there is one snag. With accommodation limited to just nine private bungalows, the resort is as exclusive as it is elegant.

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Vintage beach bungalows at Hotel Épi 1959


Bulking out this Mediterranean oasis in Ramatuelle with extra suites wasn’t part of the refurb. Only the original nine refuges remain, in an effort to preserve exclusivity and privacy.

Damonte styled these little cottages with a boujee-beachy-boho flair loyal to the free-spirited artists who shaped ‘60s Saint-Tropez. The exteriors are clad with white shiplap and each shack has a private patio and outdoor shower for washing off the sea salt. Each bungalow is outfitted with a king-size bed, rattan chairs, kitsch ceramics, and hand-picked art. Think, understated luxury that feels like home.

With only nine units up for grabs, you need to act fast to secure a stay. Save that sleep-in – or faire la grasse matinée as they call it in the Côte d’Azur – for your vacation.

Buffing and bronzing in Saint-Tropez

Hotel Épi 1959 instills a holistic approach to health and wellness through its sports, pampering, and leisure facilities. Two sun-trap pools are edged by plush Balinese beds corresponding to each bungalow where you can while away a languid afternoon sipping rosé. Monica Damonte installed retro striped parasols to channel the Sixties essence (and keep the fierce Mediterranean rays at bay).

Stress-shredding yoga, pilates, and meditation classes are delivered on the sea-facing shala. No need to pack your gear – this is tricked out with high-end Manduka mats and props. The state of the art gym comes stocked with cardio, weights, and boxing bags and an attentive crew of fitness coaches.

Private tuition and casual play are available from sunrise until sunset in Épi’s heritage tennis court. John McEnroe gave this clay court his stamp of approval and it’s been part of the Épi club brand since the onset. Hotel guests also score complimentary access to the 18-hole course at Golf Club Saint-Tropez in Gassin.

Round off your summer sojourn with a treatment in the hotel’s premium spa. Skincare products are sourced from Biologique Recherche while massage oils and elixirs are supplied by Wesak Paris.

An epi-curean adventure on the French Riviera

Photo: Hotel Epi 1959
Photo: Hotel Epi 1959
Photo: Hotel Epi 1959
Photo: Hotel Epi 1959

Castel named his Saint-Tropez hotel in homage to the French épicerie, a late-night grocery store where famished Parisian revelers would seek to cure their drunchies. Dining at Épi aims to create that same sense of excitement and anticipation – but with a healthier slant.

It all starts with a posh petit déjeuner of pastries, fruit, and coffee served on the airy terrace or delivered to your patio. Chef Paolo Amadori is helming the 2024 season at the Club Restaurant with an Italian-French menu. Expect a selection of straight-off-the-boat shellfish and the tenderest of steaks doused in mother sauces. There’s an endless supply of Provençal rosé as well as pressed juices and smoothies.

The hotel front desk can help with reservations in Saint-Tropez and the surrounding villages.

Getting to Hotel Épi

Ramatuelle bridges the gap between the famous Bay of Pampelonne and the fashionable town center. The Port of Saint-Tropez is less than 10 minutes by car: close enough for drifting in and out yet offering a welcome respite from the relentless summer crowds.

Hotel Épi 1959 is 70 miles from Nice and 90 miles from Marseille. Sure, you can rent a car and drive from either airport – there’s free parking at the hotel. If you fancy making check-in part of the Épi Plage experience, chat with the concierge about arriving from the sea.

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