Le Sénéchal in Ars en Ré review – a charming hotel for my family reunion

France HotelsRentals
  • 22 rooms
  • Double rooms from €90
  • Cots can be hired for an additional €20 (£18) per night and beds for children under 16 are also available for an additional €38 (£34) per night.
  • There are a couple of family rooms.
  • If you’re travelling with grown up children, it might be best to hire one of the houses or the apartment, which offer more space.
  • Babysitters are available on request.
  • Heated outdoor pool
  • Handy bike parking garage
  • Fly to La Rochelle and then drive or take a taxi to Ars en Ré, it’s about 30 minutes if the bridge is not busy
  • Once there, make sure to rent bikes to explore the island. There are cycling lanes everywhere.

After 18 months of not being able to see my family nor to travel to France, I couldn’t wait to set foot in my native country.

We arranged a family reunion at Ile de Ré, where my sister is renovating an old house. Flights to La Rochelle, the nearest airport, were only on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays so I decided to treat myself to a long weekend and flew there in advance onThursday.

I booked Le Sénéchal in Ars en Ré for the first two nights. I long had noticed that charming hotel and was delighted that I could finally experience it.

Hotel le Sénéchal right in the center of Ars en Ré

Ars en Ré is itself is in the middle of the Ile de Ré. It is a typical village of the island with its alleys lined with white houses adorned with green shutters, leading to a marina or the village square.

In this square stands the Church of Ars, with its slender spire that can be seen from far beyond the marshes.

The hotel is therefore ideally placed for exploring not only the village but every corner of the island, one of my favorites in France, especially if you have an electric bike!

Le Sénéchal is both a boutique hotel and collection of charming holiday homes to rent

The hotel itself has a small number of rooms of various sizes. Some have terraces, others a fireplace, some a seaview in the distance, many with views of the hotel patio.

Le Sénéchal also offer luxury villa rentals for 10 or 15 people, large traditional houses that have been renovated including one with a pool. All have hotel services.

For smaller families, a few houses have the classic charm of the hotel and again, come with hotel services.

Finally, they have two lofts, perfect for a snug night, one in the hotel offering a very spacious room with a lounge area by the fireplace and a kitchenette and the other boasting a turret and a breathtaking view over the black and white bell tower and a dining area.

One of the first boutique hotels in France

Years ago, I spotted the Sénéchal in interior design magazines, long before the term “boutique hotel” became widespread.

It was one of the first hotels to incorporate the codes of its location and add a recognizable design touch.

The warm island stones are highlighted in all the rooms and provide a perfect setting for the mainly white and beige decor style, with touches of green. The furniture is simple or mottled, with old sinks in the bedrooms, for example.

I had a “character” room on the first floor with a double view: on the patio and on the street. Not very big but well laid out with a small separate room for storage and even a small table to work on.

There is nothing fancy but everything fits together and works great. The TV is very simple, there is no wifi in the rooms because really what you want here is to keep the holiday spirit and stay disconnected from everything.

The bathroom too is simple. Nice amenities from Acqua di Parma. There are few rooms with a shower and most of them have a bath with a hand-held shower hose. In the summer, I would miss a proper shower as one of the big pleasures of coming back from the beach is having a good shower before getting ready for an apéritif!

The staff are lovely, very relaxed but present when needed.

I especially enjoyed the lounges, the only places where you can get good wifi. It forced me to think in terms of moments: exploring on a bike, walking, resting in the bedroom,”blogging” in the living rooms, all alone with a cup of tea..

The set of patios with plants and hollyhocks gives a bucolic atmosphere. The heated swimming pool, which is warm from April to September, is not big enough to do laps but is perfect  to cool off or laze on the deckchairs.

Limited food offering

There is no restaurant in Le Sénéchal but with lots to choose from on the square nearby or on the marina, a 5’ walk, you totally understand why they don’t bother.

They do offer a hot drinks table in the afternoon where you can help yourself to tea and coffee. Pity that there were no home made cakes, that would have been a simple and welcome touch.

Breakfast is extra at 14 euros per person. It’s a classic continental one with breads, pastries, freshly squeezed orange juice (delicious), a boiled egg, cereals, fruit and yoghurt.  Enjoying it in the flowery patio is lovely but if you want to save money, you can choose your own breakfast at cheaper prices in the cafés or the boulangerie on the square.

Activities at Le Sénéchal

Le Sénéchal is really your base to explore the island, not so much to do many activities. They can however help you with those, whether finding bikes, sailing etc.. 

I found it really convenient to rent a bike down the street. I chose an electric bike and let me tell you that it’s like business class in a plane: once you try it, you don’t want to revert to economy!

Ars-en-Ré has few shops but they are the kind that I like. A few home design shops, some small clothes boutique where the owner really knows her stuff and can advise you. I highly recommend le Caiman Pamé, a fabulous concept store with a very carefully selected collection of home accessories, clothes and furniture.

Hotel le Sénéchal, Ars en Ré – my verdict

https://youtu.be/pK-Eo7i0wdo

I really enjoyed my time at Le Sénéchal. It was made even more special by meeting my family, and enjoying French food and the French quality of life again. Travel was a breeze, despite all the Covid measures, because there are so few people doing it. 

I hope I’ll be back soon.

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