In 1785, King Louis XVI bought a gift for his wife, Marie-Antoinette: a mansion built on the ruins of a 13th-century castle on Île de Ré, an island off the west coast of France. Today, that mansion is La Baronnie Hôtel & Spa, a boutique hotel with all the elegance of days gone by — grand staircases, period woodwork, velvet sofas, an old stone fireplace, decorative toile drapery, cobblestoned courtyards perfumed with lavender and jasmine — plus a sun-drenched Cinq Mondes spa and a cozy cocktail bar.
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Guest rooms are simple and elegant, with wood-beamed ceilings and antique furnishings. Though all share a unified aesthetic, each one is different, and not just in the finer details — they range from relatively conventional historical bedrooms to the Tour des Amis, a tower room in the original structure, and the Indian Lodge, a free-standing cabin constructed from salvaged 18th-century timber.
The gardens offer plentiful space for lounging, and make a fine venue for an evening cocktail; a heated outdoor pool is available from May through October. There’s a generous daily breakfast, served family-style on the sunny terrace, and while there’s no restaurant, the bar serves light bites, and the hotel is perfectly located for exploring the charming island capital of Saint-Martin-de-Ré on foot.