Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa

BiarritzEating Out

Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa

checking into French resort's splendid Sofitel...

What catches your attention as soon as you step inside this hotel is the fragrance from the fresh flowers, and scented candles, adorning the large reception area. There’s a warmth – like a home from home – and immediately you feel relaxed.

The Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa – part of the French luxury chain – is one of very few hotels in the area with a Thalassotherapy centre. Surprising really, as the fascination with freeing your mind and listening to your body through the virtues of sea-water is big news in Biarritz.

Located in south-western France, the city is compact, more of a town really. It lies on the Atlantic coast’s Bay of Biscay, and holds onto its reputation as an upscale seaside resort. Although it still retains some of the glitz and glamour of yesteryear – in the 1850s it was frequented by the British royal family – today, it’s feeling a little washed out… there’s a definite casual vibe brought into town by the many surfers, and there’s a charming air of faded glamour. It’s like an old Hollywood star who’s fallen on hard times, but never lost the elegant swagger that made her who she was.

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The hotel overlooks the popular surfer spot of the Grand Plage, one of six beaches along a six-kilometre coastline – and is only a short 10 minute walk into the town. The relaxed Biarritz vibe continues into the hotel, where guests wander the public spaces (around the pool and even at the breakfast table) in their Sofitel bathrobe and slippers. At first I was rather bemused by this peculiar cult, but it didn’t take long before I too was heading to the pool each morning dressed exactly the same, although I did draw the line at under-dressing in such a manner at breakfast.

And what a pool area it is. I’d looked online before arriving and the images I’d encountered did not do it justice. It’s a rectangle pool, nothing special there, but heated and filled with saltwater and has the most stunning backdrop of the beach and its jagged outcrops. Looking out to the left, you can see down to the Casino and beyond, and to the right, the Biarritz Lighthouse (dating back to 1831) looming 73 metres above sea level.

The sun loungers were plentiful and comfortable, and dotted around the pool were peculiar coloured objects, I’m not too sure if they were seats or not, but me being me, gave it a go, just the once mind. It has a pleasant shaded patio – dark wicker sofas with plush white cushions – a perfect spot for enjoying a cold drink and people watching and the hotel’s outdoor bar Le “B” Côté Terrase does some killer cocktails, and tapas-style light bites.

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The terrace and adjoining indoor restaurant is where you have breakfast – we were lucky enough to sit outdoors each morning due to the warm mid-September sun, and splurged on fresh fruit, french breads, baguettes, cheeses, pastries and crêpes. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff, something which strongly resonated throughout the whole hotel.

Although sadly we never made it into the spa for any treatments, we did check out the fitness and relaxation area. The small gym overlooks the promenade as does the heated indoor pool area with its jacuzzi, water massage system and neck showers. The hammam next door was bliss with an invigorating menthol and eucalyptus steam room and sauna.

The Sofitel Biarritz doesn’t disappoint, it’s everything you’d expect from the chain; spacious bedrooms (if in need of a spruce up, but very befitting the town’s shabby-chic) – ours a superior sea room, the views from both inside and the sizable balcony stunning – and an in-room espresso machine that perked us up when required. L’Occitane amenities in the large modern bathrooms were abundant, and taking up a big chunk of the room was the most ridiculously comfortable bed I’d slept in since, well, my stay at Sofitel Philadelphia earlier this year. Collapsing into it after a hard days sunbathing, and hitting the restaurants and bars of Biarritz was heaven.

Comfort, style, service, staggering views – just don’t take this hotel at face value, as exterior charm is perhaps the only thing that it’s not got just quite right. Splendid.

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Photography © We Heart / Sofitel