Ten minutes away from the highly-strung glamour of Cannes, five-star hotel Le Mas Candille is a charming renovated olive farm high on a hill. It’s wow factor – other than a Michelin-starred restaurant – is that pretty much every room and pool relishes the spectacular views over the valley to the dramatic foothills of the Alps.
Large gates open onto lawns with ancient olive, pine and Cyprus trees rolling down to the peach coloured 18th Century farmhouse (Le Mas), with white shutters and terracotta-tiled roofs. The lobby is homely rather than grand, a Provençal hall with a Romanesque tiled floor, an enormous brushed grey velvet chaise longue and shabby-chic French antiques. Don’t underestimate its simple charms Brad and Angelina have stayed here, as have Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp.
Owners Mark and Tina Silver restored Le Mas Candille in 2001, enhancing original features and adding contemporary comforts, as well as vibrant local sculptures, paintings and objets d’art.
There are 39 bedrooms, ranging from cosy and traditional in the main house to larger doubles in the newer part of the hotel. There are also six modern luxury suites.
Lavender-lined paths wind up tiered lawns past a smaller private pool for hotel guests and children, to a huge oval infinity-edge pool that juts over the valley. Swim long lengths in its silky cool water and gaze at the pre-Alps and skies before flopping on a funky pink chair or lounger and ordering drinks and snacks from La Pergola restaurant. Head down steps to a bubbly Jacuzzi set in a panoramic terrace with a gently trickling waterfall.
In 2005, the Silvers bought a neighbour’s house and transformed it into Spa Candille. The single-storey, honeycoloured building peers above grasses and flowering shrubs over the valley. Décor
is Med-Zen – think white walls, sliding wooden screen doors and pale pebbles edging dark wooden floors.
Changing rooms are petit, all dark wood and pale marble with creamy rustic tiles – try the ESPA products on the dressing table or in the showers.
The rectangular relaxation room has floor-to-ceiling windows so you can bathe in mountain and sky views from your lounger. Doors lead to a small terrace which overlooks the blue oval hydro pool in the spa garden below. This quiet, secluded area is the perfect place to unwind on a poolside lounger. Claim the hammock beneath the willow tree and watch the odd private jet etch across the clear blue sky. Or head over a little Japanese bridge to the intimate Jacuzzi, cloistered in a Cyprus hedge. There’s an outdoor gym where you can enjoy the scenery and mountain breezes while working out, and – if you can stand the heat – an outdoor sauna cabin.
We tried the ESPA Age-Defying Facial (90 minutes, £127). My therapist, Jade, invited me to inhale a choice of oils and I plumped for the heavenly Restorative option.
Jade began by thoroughly examining my skin under a lamp, then dimmed the lights before exfoliating and cleansing my face. An intense facial massage is at the heart of the treatment and is performed in three stages. First Jade briskly massaged in warm oils to loosen up the muscles, then she focused on points around my eyes, mouth and jaw, before finally using firm sweeping strokes as though ironing out creases.
Jade then brushed on a refreshingly icy mask, and as it set, massaged ESPA’s wondrous Pink Hair and Scalp Mud into my scalp. She ended the treatment with serum, moisturiser and eye cream.
I took before and after pics and was pleased with the results. My eyes looked wide awake minus the usual baggage, and my skin was gleaming. There was a definite lift around the forehead, eyelids and jawline, and my sun-frazzled hair was grateful for the mud. Even better, the healthy Riviera glow remained long after I’d landed home in rainy Blighty.
La Pergola bar and café is next to the spa, and overlooks the spectacular main pool and scenery. Enjoy fresh salads, hot meals, seafood, grills and club sandwiches as well as tempting desserts.
In the evening, we dined on the terrace at Le Candille, watching the sky blush pink then darken as the twinkling lights of Grasse appeared in the valley. Even more captivating was the four-course gastronomic menu created by Michelin starred chef David Chauvac. We kicked off with a colourful and refreshing vodka carrot soufflé, then I had meltingly tender poached seabream, while my partner had a rich beef slow-braised in Chateau Lagraula wine. Amazingly, we found room for a cheese plate and strawberry cheesecake, as well as lashings of fine wine. Well, when in France…
Foodies and artists – we loved the way the hotel and village co-exist, sharing a passion for gastronomy and art.
Mougins, the absurdly pretty village where Picasso spent the last decade of his life, is a few steps further up the winding hill road. In the renowned Museum of Classical Art, paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Matisse, Warhol and Damien Hirst lurk among the Roman, Greek and Egyptian antiquities.
Order a gourmet picnic hamper, or simply take a bottle of rosé to the lawns high up by the front gates and watch the sun set over the valley.
Find out more about Le Mas Candille
21st December 2017
Clever, inspiring design, sublime views, a vast, clean and empty pool, solitary relaxation areas to read, write or commune with my muse.
Small talk, discussions about spirituality or astrology, any products containing tea tree oil or aloe (sadly am allergic), busy pools where you can’t do laps.
Behind the scenes