Villa Marie, St Tropez

St Tropez has become the most popular place for celebrities and stars to holiday in the South of France. For 9 months of the year it is an idyllic seaside town with fresh seafood restaurants, picturesque white sand beaches and quaint museums and shops to look around. But in the heat of the summer everyone descends on this piece of coastline resulting in stifling crowds, awful traffic and tourist ridden beaches. So I have two recommendations for you: visit St Tropez outside of peak season; and stay outside of the main town in Ramatuelle, at the Villa Marie hotel.

This lovely sleepy little place overlooks St Tropez but is removed enough to give you a peaceful holiday – blissfully quiet and perfectly civilised. Villa Marie hotel is part of the sophisticated and traditionally French Sibuet Hotels group, an understated offering of 5* luxury located amongst a seven acre pine forest. There are 45 rooms and suites, each designed and consciously decorated by Jocelyne Sibuet.

We were in a cosy room on the ground floor, with a balcony that opened out to the forest and a path down to the swimming pool. Unusually the bathroom and bedroom were together in one long room, with just a toilet separately. I was delighted to find a wonderfully indulgent free standing bath, which I used at every opportunity to soak and unwind. The bed was gloriously soft and comfortable, and the natural surroundings were blissfully quiet in the night. The pale white, cream and grey colour scheme in the bedroom is subtle and calming, and suits the character of this area of France.

The terrace restaurant looks out to the sea and the menu is simple but focuses on fresh fish and seafood from the area. Drinking the hotel’s own deliciously crisp rose under the starry sky was a real pleasure for our last night in Provence. We chose a few dishes to share, highlights were; the calamari and vegetable tempura, light and crispy with flavoursome seafood inside and accompanied with a creamy rich aioli; and the asparagus and truffle risotto, a dish too tasty to be classified vegetarian. After the delicious dinner we retired to the sitting room inside to test our skills in a competitive game of Scrabble, whilst sipping fresh mint tea.


After an al fresco breakfast of coffee and croissants on the terrace, I enjoyed a brief massage at the hotel’s boutique spa. The shabby chic spa has a beachside feel and stocks all of the Pure Altitude products, the brand founded by owner Jocelyne. I specifically asked to try a treatment which used the range of products, and found the argan and neroli balm to be deeply relaxing and soothing. It was the perfect envigorating morning wake up and I imagine would be a great place to be pampered after a day at the beach.

Villa Marie is open from April to October inclusive every year. Instead of joining the Riviera regulars in the heat of summer, opt for a quieter time of year and enjoy a truly relaxing Provencal holiday.

More information and book a stay here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 192

January is a good time to change and refresh your daily beauty routine. I’ve scoured the best brands around, and here’s my top selection for the winter.


Finding a brand that offers a range of products to cover your whole face routine is a revelation. Murad Daily Cleansing Foam, Balancing Moisturizer and T-Zone Pore Refining Serum is on offer as a set for £99 when you buy all three and they compliment each other and your skin so you don’t have to worry about any other products. I love the easy-to-use cleansing foam, it is very light and fresh and tones the skin while also washing away all dirt and impurities. The serum is particularly good to use on more problematic areas of your face, whilst the moisturizer can be applied liberally and will hydrate and protect.

The luxuriously organic collection from Thalgo is faultless. Made from a concoction of the finest ingredients, these formulas are a a joy for every skin type. Both the Freshness Exfoliator and Relaxing Cream are light and yet hydrating. The silky touch of the cream makes it a pleasure to use, night and day.

Those days your skin needs a little extra boost, Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream does the trick. This rich and creamy moisturiser smells divine and feels even better. Presented in a retro turquoise glass container, it is a facial cream for the most glamorous girls and will keep your skin glowing long after application.

I have always been a fan of Jurlique, the floral and girly ranges are great for maintaining even tone and complexion whilst scenting the skin with delicious perfumes. The Balancing Cleansing Lotion is a gentle product made with rosewood and lavender, to cleanse and hydrate the skin. Once the skin is clean, a few pumps of the Herbal Recovery Advanced Serum will combat any dullness and leave your skin radiant. I notice the wonderful effects of Jurlique everyday.


I can’t get enough of the indulgent Cocooning Body Butter from Sanctuary Spa, it soaks so easily into the skin whilst softening and tightening. It can be used on the whole body and is the perfect remedy to unwind at the end of a stressful day. Another great product, the brings the spa to your home, is the Warming Sugar Polish. This self-heating scrub deeply cleanses the skin with the crushed organic sugar and crushed walnut recipe removing any dead skin to leave your body feeling bright and fresh.

For bronzed skin all-year round, there is only one brand to go to. St Tropez is a godsend, and in summer the shelves of Boots are emptied as girls rush for these precious bottles of tanning lotion. My favourite is the Bronzing Mousse which is easiest to use and very natural. But before tanning can commence the skin must be smooth and soft, which is where the Tan Enhancing Polish comes in. This scrub preps the skin and helps ensure the best tan. For your face, St Tropez Bronzing Lotion gives the best results.


Charles Worthington is an affordable and reliable haircare brand. These three products (Moisture Seal Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Masque) work well as a set, intensely nourishing the hair from root to end. Enriched with argon oil, when dry the hair appears shiny and glossy. Use the masque occasionally to add strength to weakened hair.

In my opinion Philip Kingsley is the king of haircare. His Moisture Balancing Shampoo and Conditioner is proof of this, these carefully formulated products are ideal for medium-textured and wavy hair, giving bounce and shine. As well as improving quality, this shampoo and conditioner makes hair manageable and easy to style, adding moisture to dry split ends and ensuring balanced roots.

When it comes to hair styling it is important to have products that you know work for your hair. Joico is a fashionable American brand with sassy styling products, I can particularly recommend the Styling & Finishing Spray and Ultra Dry Spray, with a light and lovely smell and medium hold, they will prepare hair perfectly for a night out on the town.