Words by Codelia Mantsebo
Barrière’s Le Grand Hôtel Dinard is as modern as it is nostalgic, as aristocratic as it is discreet, and as glamorous as it is down-to-earth. Fresh from a full renovation just two years ago, this belle époque beauty has opened its doors again and continues to shine its five stars in the Emerald Coast’s crown jewel.
Once deemed the ‘Cannes of the North’, the town of Dinard has long been a favourite seaside retreat for the Parisian elite. The first-ever hotel in Dinard, Barrière Le Grand Hôtel Dinard has helped forge the seaside resort’s reputation with wealthy visitors since the 19th century.
This iconic hotel quickly became the town’s most glamorous five-star pick. For over 150 years, Barrière Le Grand Hôtel has been offering discreet luxury for visiting aristocrats, celebrities and royalty, with a guest list that included Pablo Picasso, Winston Churchill, Hugh Grant, Lawrence of Arabia, and Victor Hugo.
Although popular with wealthy clients since its opening, the hotel comes from humble beginnings. Back in 1858, Hôtel de Dinard, as it was called then, offered just 20 bedrooms, none of which had the luxury of bathrooms (guests were invited to bathe in the sea!)
But the hotel has since had some changes. After closing for refurbishment in November 2018, the hotel reopened in April 2019 to reveal a fresh new look that combines modern comforts with the seaside heritage of the town, while respecting the history of the building. The new design is full of charm, romance and all about reflecting the innate maritime spirit of the location. Today, it’s the nostalgia for the town’s glory days that still draws the crowds.
Deep Dinard-blue and classic shades of cream, reminiscent of the colours of the town’s striped beach tents adorn some of the hotel’s walls in clean, elegant lines. Black and white photographs depict days gone by, while the building’s original flooring is still intact in the bar and lobby.
Upon entrance, the light wood furniture and the most charming and enthusiastic staff welcome you at reception. Through to the right, a lounge decked with soft sofas and a selection of art and books from the furnished library make a little haven for some peace and quiet.
The hotel’s decor has a sentimental ambience that gives even the most oblivious guest a true Dinard welcome. It’s breath-takingly beautiful from the entrance all the way to the rooms. You’ll feel somewhat nostalgic even if you’re not familiar with the history of the locale.
The rooms are elegant and minimal with a warm pop of colour. My room was airy, offering plenty of space for a standard room (with balcony view). The rich Dinard blue, along with the beige and cream colour pay homage to the hotel’s seaside location, which you’ll see yourself from the balcony overlooking the hotel’s gardens, and the sea on your side.
You can wake up to this iconic seascape view from any of the suites and most rooms – standard rooms included (at request). Black and white wall picture frames above the beds add to that romantic and nostalgic aura of Dinard’s past.
Downstairs, the hotel’s 333 Café, inspired by movie memorabilia from ‘The Vikings’ (shot in 1957 closeby in Brittany), offers panoramic views along with views of the wonderful fortified city of St. Malo. Here, guests can enjoy a light lunch or perhaps savour the ‘Le 333’ cocktail on The Terrace 333 contemplating the stunning ocean views.
Restaurant George V serves classic regional cuisine, fish prepared to perfection and local specialities in the most beautiful setting; with high ceilings, stunning Swarovski crystal chandeliers and white walls enhanced by wood mouldings. The menu is simple, but dishes are divine; expect refined dishes from start to finish; from excellent foie gras and perfectly cooked fish to quality poultry and fantastic desserts. Not to mention the wine selection accompanied by the friendliest and helpful staff and grandiose dining room with spaced tables and views of the sea.
For breakfast or lunch, take in the magnificent light through the large windows, and at night, take in the photographs of sailboats evoking Saint-Malo. The live music in the bar provides a perfect end to the evening.
For complete relaxation, head to the spa (you can easily sit here admiring the décor and not notice the time go by!). The spa facilities and service are first class with a gym, sauna and hammam alongside a luxuriously large indoor swimming pool. Spa Diane Barrière offers a range of relaxing body and beauty treatments. In summer, guests can lounge on the large terrace, which opens up and offers the sunny view of the bay and the ramparts of Saint-Malo.
Guests can try a game of poker or enjoy a game on any of Casino Barrière Dinard’s 117 slot machines and gaming tables just a short walk away from the hotel. No need to worry about the kids though, Le Studio by Petit Vip offers five-star childcare and many fun workshops for children from four to 12 years old so you can truly enjoy some alone time.
The satisfaction of visiting this hotel is in its discreetness, but guests who crave a more lively buzz can enjoy the open-air and closed market just a short walk away, while nearby Saint-Malo offers all day and all night affairs.
In a nutshell
Barrière’s Le Grand Hôtel Dinard offers a historic charm that’s a world away from the city life its guests are normally accustomed to, but it also comes with Barrière’s signature understated luxury that makes this undoubtedly one of the most discreet places to stay in Brittany. Its tranquil location on the Emerald Coast makes it the perfect change of scenery, while the nostalgic charm, idyllic setting and the warm five-star service from the attentive staff make it a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
As with all hotels in France, Barrière’s Le Grand Hôtel Dinard currently requires guests to wear a mask in public areas. Other services have been adopted to ensure the best possible safety measures for guests; for breakfast, staff use paper bags instead of bread baskets, as well as a table service rather than a buffet, or it can be served in your room.
Should you require valet service, the staff will happily do so, suitably dressed in a plastic overcoat to minimise any risks. All of Le Grand Hôtel Dinard’s COVID-19 adjustments are a true example of how to adapt and provide the same quality service even in the most uncertain times, ensuring an enjoyable stay and safe experience for their guests and staff.
Double rooms are available from €288 (£259).
Address: 46 Avenue George V 70143, 35801 Dinard, France
Phone: +33 2 99 88 26 26
Photography courtesy of Barrière Le Grand Hôtel Dinard