For 160 years, Hotel Le Grand Dinard has offered a world-class spa and an unequalled renewal for visitors. Completely renovated after five months of work, the first hotel of this chic resort on the Emerald Coast, in Brittany, has revisited its history, dotting its new decor with references to famous travelers, crowned heads, writers, painters and movie actors who have helped shape its myth.
Agatha Christie learned to swim in Écluse Beach, aviator Roland Garros held his first air meetings and, well before them, the Lumière brothers started printing color photographs here in a spot known as La Grotte de la Goule aux Fées, which they had transformed into a darkroom! The aura the Hotel Barriere during the Belle Époque is unequalled.
The first hotel of Dinard
Inaugurated in the mid-19th century by the British, who liked the mild climate and its charming setting opposite the corsair city of Saint-Malo, this resort on the Emerald Coast quickly became the rendez-vous point of the European elite. To accommodate all these high-society people, villas with whimsical architecture popped up in the lower folds of the coast. Among these, one house would soon become the center of social life: the first hotel of the resort in 1858, the Hotel Le Grand Dinard. It has remained the crown jewel of the Breton coast ever since.
It is hard to find more iconic decor than what you find in the hotel. Facing the windows, you can make out a spectacular bay interspersed by Saint-Malo's ring of fortifications. And just a short walk away, the blue-and-white striped tents of Écluse Beach evoke the fashion of the first sea baths, when wooden cabins belonging to middle-class society ladies were pulled by horses to the shore. The feeling of this prosperous period brings to life an elegant renovation by Alexandre Danan, inspired both by Breton roots and the essence of a time when vacation sometimes meant adventure.
The Emerald Coast as an inspiration
The blue of the depths of the ocean, the intense green of the forest of Brocéliande, the sandy tones of the beaches: the harmonious palette of the long beaches of the Emerald Coast are the same as the hotel. From the entrance, the lobby invites guests to take a cruise without leaving land. There is a precious lacquered wood desk in tribute to a boat hull, carpets with changing colors like the ocean—Hotel Le Grand Dinard is land-locked yacht splitting the waves.
In one of the 86 rooms and suites, put your suitcases down while thinking about past travelers. In this vintage universe, the decoration winks at its adventerous past: three-legged nightstands in tribute to travel furniture from large expeditions and books from writers eager for exoticism. It wouldn't take much to imagine Churchill playing with his hat on the beach in sepia tones, like the old photographs that dot the walls of the Grand Hôtel Barrière come back to life.
With Kirk Douglas at the bar
At 333 Café, another legend appears in the frames that decorate the blue-and-white striped walls. In 1957, American actor Kirk Douglas spent a month at the Grand Hotel while filming "The Vikings" in Brittany. Hence the name of the place, taken from his favorite cocktail, the 333. The recipe: A third of gin, a third of Cointreau and a third of orange juice, all mixed with champagne.
With large bay windows and pictures of sailboats, the George V restaurant sports new and refined livery. The reopened restaurant invites guests on a culinary journey around the globe enlivened with flavors of the world, as well as shareable dishes, French classics and Breton specialties revisited.
And, of course, the sea air calls for new horizons. Hop on a sand yacht to sail the shore back and forth at low tide, or ride a bike along the narrow streets of Dinard in search of classified villas before embarking on a partial navigation of the islands, baubles of white sand embedded in turquoise waters.
Indoor pool and solarium
However, for water at tropical temperature (28 °C, or 82 ºF), our next stop is the brand new spa, Diane Barrière, and its beautiful indoor pool! In good weather, the large terrace solarium opens for a voluptuous snapshot: swimmers are covered by sunshine and sea sprays, while spying on the ballet of sails flying towards the open sea, in the distance. It's an eternal postcard of a lost time finally found.
For more information:
• Plan your stay at Hôtel Barrière Le Grand Hôtel Dinard
• Visit Dinard
• Plan your trip to Brittany
• Also read: All aboard! The Brittany coast from an old sailing boat