Let’s get this out of the way – There is nothing typical about Epi 1959. From the moment the gates to the driveway open, you enter another world, a more elegant, intimate one of understated and nostalgic luxury.
Epi 1959 is about stepping back in time to a reimagined St. Tropez idyll and the hazy days of Brigitte Bardot and Johnny Hallyday frolicking on the sand of this glitzy hub of the French Riviera. In 1959, businessman Albert Debarge and ambassador of Parisian nightlife Jean Castel opened up a new hotel to cater to the jet set that was hungry for more of the good times. Anyone who was anyone visited the beach cabanas, pools, clay tennis courts and bars over the following decades.
After some major refurbishment the hotel relaunched as Épi 1959 in 2018 with beautiful landscaping and gardens developed by Madison Cox and design by Italian Monica Damonte. The result is what could be described as a “new kind of chic”, defining a type of Saint-Tropez style that is more boho and understated than the excessive displays of wealth the region is known for these days. It’s clear that the work has been about preservation and culture; bringing back the charm of the 50’s and 60’s.
The vibe in Hotel Épi
The original ten cabanas remain and decor has been kept nicely casual. Creamy pastel shades, wicker furniture and quality fabrics. Amenities are laid thick with Bamford bath products and a complementary minibar and everything has been designed to make guests feel special and comfortable, without ever feeling unnecessary or over the top.
Recreating the the vibe of secret, closed off oasis which still feels familiar is no easy task but Cox and the team have certainly achieved this. You feel like a friend has handed over the keys to their villa, yet there is the level of attention to detail (and pampering) which is impossible to reach without employing extremely dedicated and passionate people, who understand both the new expectations of hospitality and the history behind the concept.
Access to the beach
Epi 1959 also enjoys direct access to Pampelonne beach, Saint-Tropez’ most iconic strip of sand, which is great for a dip before the crowds arrive and also for a wide selection of restaurants and beach clubs, should you for some strange reason wish to venture outside the property.
Food and fun in Épi 1059
The food at Epi 1959 is sublime. The Grill serves up classics such as fresh seafood and salads all day and night (perhaps the best grilled sea bass and tomato salad ever!), whilst a Chotto Matte popup delivers Japanese-Peruvian fare and cocktails, which those who have visited the brand in London, Miami or Toronto know are presented with uncompromising quality. Nestled in a small Japanese garden, it’s again a world away from a world away. Of course, the hotel is happy to accommodate any requests, which in my case meant enjoying Chotto Matte’s menu whilst perched at The Grill’s bar, enjoying the friendly banter of the bar staff and Frank Sinatra’s gentle voice..perfect, lazy evenings.
Breakfast is also a civilised affair with pastries, juices and coffees served at the table, with nice extras like eggs and avocado toasts to complement this at a surcharge. By far the best way to help burn off the petit déjeuner is to book one of the fabulous red clay tennis courts which John McEnroe himself has blessed and us mortals can enjoy at a more leisurely pace. Lacoste dressed pro-coaches are of course also at guests’ disposal and for any avid tennis fan a session or two will not only be thoroughly enjoyable but also a special occasion.
Épi 1959 is a truly unique destination; one that feels and breathes. It’s this human quality which give it soul and makes it a place we can all associate with. Müd will be back next season.
Müd stayed at Épi 1959 in early September 2019 and booked via their website Epi1959.com.