While most people visit Saint Jean de Luz and the Atlantic Ocean in the summer time, we took the opportunity to visit this region of New Aquitaine, France in January. Even if the weather is cold, there are plenty of things to see and do in Basque Country and who doesn’t love a spa day or relaxing with a glass of champagne by a roaring fireplace? The five star Grand Hotel Thalassa and Spa includes Le Clipper Bar, as well as le Bistrot Badia and the gourmet L’Ocean restaurant. We also found a California connection during our visit to this grand hotel!
With an art deco-inspired decor the grand lobby blends stately, white marble columns with pops of burgundy accent color, along with French paintings. The 52 room hotel includes 2 Suites with a terrace, 6 Junior Suites with a terrace and 2 “Sainte Barbe” Junior Suites. The contemporary seaside hotel has had several lives. While quiet during our winter visit, I can image that it comes to life when filled with vacationing families and friends in the spring and summer.
The Belle Epoque-style architecture reflects old world charm, with friendly service to match. Our ocean view junior suite, #312, rented for 360 € per night, and offered a lovely view of the beach walking path and the Atlantic Ocean in the protected Saint Jean de Luz Bay. Our room on the third floor was family-friendly in that the sofa converted to a bed for children. It also came with two separate bathrooms, ideal for families or couples who enjoy their space.
All rooms come with flat-screen TVs, (ours also featured a pop-up tv screen) mini bar, white cotton robe and slippers, in addition to Nespresso coffee maker and tea service. I liked the Betjeman & Barton French tea selection from Paris. Needless to say, several packets of Rooibush Jardin Rouge red herbal tea made it home with me on the airplane. I wish I could say the same of the velvety smooth chocolates left nightly on our bed from Paries. This Basque gourmet store makes wonderful chocolates but you simply must try the Kanougas. They are amazing caramels that melt in your mouth!
Dining at Grand Hotel Thalasso & Spa
I don’t have to tell you that the French know how to eat well. The town of Saint Jean de Luz reminded me a little of Yountville, California (sans ocean) but they have as many Michelin restaurants for such a small population. Indeed Grand Hotel Thalasso has a Michelin one star restaurant in L’Océan. The ocean-side restaurant specializes in seafood and modern French cuisine, and has a beachfront terrace. The lounge bar, which has a fireplace, also faces Saint Jean de Luz Bay. In Le Clipper you’ll find signature cocktails. Of course, the wine list at L’Océan is quite impressive, as is the friendly sommelier.
Earlier I referenced a California connection with Grand Hotel Thalasso & Spa. It turns out that Executive Chef Christophe Grosjean used to be a chef in my stomping grounds. Chef Grosjean formerly worked at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley and Le Auberge Carmel. His French cuisine is inspired by the ocean and Basque country. His lobster poached in butter, pumpkin, chestnut and hazelnut truffle emulsion was divine and the filet of lamb from the Pyrenees in Espellette pepper juice was delicious. My husband ordered the scallops and they were as lovely as the presentation. For the chocoholic, the chocolate truffle is the star of the dessert with its sphere of dark chocolate with black truffle-vanilla ice cream.
Loreamar Seawater Spa
After several spa visits in France, I’m beginning to understand the therapeutic benefits of thalasso or sea treatments, utilizing the healing properties of sea water, seaweed and sea salt. In the United States and Mexico, my vision of a “spa day” was a deep tissue massage and perhaps a healthy spa lunch with girlfriends. The French take their spa time to another level and a lot of people swear by the French beauty treatments and regimes. At Loreamar Spa, within the hotel, the former cellar has been converted into a relaxation oasis with a saltwater swimming pool with underwater music, steam room, and sauna. Loremar Seawater Spa uses Skinceuticals & Thalion brands for their treatments.
I experienced the hot stone massage, combined with an energy massage. It was perfect for a winter day. If it were in the spring or summer, I could have opened the door, directly connecting to the beach, and taken a plunge in the ocean between treatments. Guess I’ll have to come back to experience Saint Jean de Luz in the warmer months.
Need to know:
Breakfast is available for an extra fee of 29 € per person. Room service is also available. WiFi is free.
2 Restaurants: For lunch – le Bistrot Badia. For dinner, the gourmet L’Océan restaurant (1 Michelin star)
The hotel includes an underground parking lot. Rates: 25 € in July and August & 21 € the rest of the year.
Pets are welcome for an extra fee of 25 € per day.
Tourist tax : 1.50 €/person/day
Check in: 3:00 pm
Check out: 12:00 pm
Insider Tips: For a complete wellness package, the luxury hotel and spa offers a 3 day de-stress program, or 5 day detox program. On the day of check out, it’s perfectly acceptable to use the spa, saltwater pool and hot tub for free and the hotel will store your luggage. For additional insider tips follow travel writer @Nancydbrown on Instagram or Twitter @Nancydbrown and @grandhotel64 on Twitter.
If You Go:
Grand Hotel Thalasso and Spa +33 5 59 26 35 36
43 Boulevard Thiers, 64500
Grand Hotel Thalasso & Spa review YouTube video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. As is typical in the industry, I received a complimentary media stay, however, all opinions are my own. For more information on the New Aquitaine region in France click here.