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“Enjoy the full experience of the French Hamptons”
Review of Hotel Le Senechal

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Hotel Le Senechal
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Ars-en-Re
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“Enjoy the full experience of the French Hamptons”
Reviewed May 13, 2012

I have been many times to Le Senechal.
My first visit was as a young professional between jobs, enjoying my "garden leave" at the end of August up until early September. The hotel had just been acquired and renovated by its current owners, and it was well before it became the place to be in the island. In fact, it was even before Ile de Re became fashionable.
A word about the island: white sand beaches, over 100km of cycling slopes punctuated by oyster farms that serve the most divine platters on the spot for a dime, secluded villages often featuring a restaurant worth a stop...and in a nutshell, away from it all. It was there that I proposed to my wife. It was there that I took my eldest son to its first beach holiday when he was 3 months old. And it is there where my fondest holiday memories remain.
Le Senechal is on Ars en Re, the prettiest village of the island, with its black and white church tower, fruit and veg market, amazing restaurants, beach and country feeling, removed from modern civilization but close enough to get to.
The hotel was renovated in 2000 into a laid back, whitewashed walls and climbing plants, sunny yet secluded gem featuring a small swimming pool and many living areas small enough to provide intimacy to its occupants. The place doesn't look anything much from the outside, but the magic starts as you walk in: terracotta tiles, sisal or timber wood floors grace your feet as your eyes are enchanted by the typical decorum of the French Atlantic style: simple yet subtle furniture found in flea markets mixed with deep, comfortable seatings and beddings, dimmed lighting either in the bedrooms, or in the patio, lit with leds that form a patchwork of stars on the cobbled courtyard, climbing plants carefully chosen for the enjoyment of the sight and the scent.
My favourite room is suite 22: large enough with a living room benefiting from a working fireplace (nights are chilly in Ars except in July-August), large bathroom with bath and shower, bedroom with a 150 sf terrace overlooking the pool (and, as you would expect, protected from everyone else's gaze).
Staff is generally accommodating: breakfast served in bedroom if you wish, good tips on what to do and see around, where to go and what not to miss. Breakfast in the courtyard when sunny is also very enjoyable, reading the island newspaper or the Figaro, both available in high season from the local newsagent.
Many Parisians owning a house in the island prefer to check into Le Senechal rather than open their own house if visiting the island on a short break (I guess it is always a good problem to have when you need to set significant time aside to "open" your holiday home).
You've never been, you want the island experience, you don't want to be disappointed: book yourself into le Senechal.
Best period to go: first week of September. Everyone is back in Paris - however, restaurants, shops and hotels are still in full service, just recovering from the peak of the season. The weather is at its best: hot during the day, 28-30c, with the Gulf Stream warming the waters of the southern beaches of the island to 22c, but chilly enough in the evenings to light a small fire for the fun of it, or wear a thick woolly jumper to enjoy dinner al fresco, on a terrace overlooking the harbour.
When NOT to go: mid July and whole of August. Anything and everything you do not want to meet or see during your time off.
So a very enthusiastic reviewer.

Now the small print:
- Some staff can seem a little off-putting. After many years of going there, it is probably due to excessive shyness than intentional offence. This has been a laid back beach resort up until 10 years ago, and it still is off season, which explains the lack of international standards despite the internationally standardised pricing of rooms and suites..
- Room prices have gone up to what I consider over and above the reasonable limit. It is cheaper to rent a 3 bedroom house in the same village than a medium-sized bedroom if going for a week. Given that the place does not offer the full array of hotel services (no concierge, no room service safe for tea and breakfast, no laundry, no restaurant except breakfast and tea, no cable, no gym, etc), might as well rent a house and ask for daily cleaning service from local cleaning ladies.
- the island has become a French and to some extent international phenomenon. Crowded with tourists, easily accessible through the main viaduct, it has somewhat lost its past appeal during the peak season. That problem is reflected in the hotel clientele and less personalized service. Hence the importance of your timing...

Room Tip: Ask for a room on the internal courtyard - quieter and nicer views.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank JackfromParis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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198 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (17)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
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English first
London
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed November 7, 2011

We love visiting Le Senechal, out of the high French season ie August. Architecturally and in terms of decor, this is top-notch. We love the village of Ars and Le Senechal is right in its heart. Ars is well-positioned for cycling round the nice end of the island - go to Cycland at the port. Try the breakfast on day 1 but maybe the bakers across the square is a better option for many.

Room Tip: Best rooms are pricy but worth it. Website is excellent for choosing what is right for you.
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Tony_Sandra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
58 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2011

We've stayed at Hotel le Senechal twice now. Firstly, the island and Ars-en-Re are finds in themselves. It is a gorgeous little seaside village filled with all things wonderful and oh so French. It's also lacking a touristy feel and filled with locals, which makes it extra special. The hotel is smack bang in the middle of the village centre and is French to its core - colour schemes, room design, menus, the gardens. It has a truly lovely look and feel, and the staff are super friendly (particularly since we speak no French!).You need to be prepared for a bit of noise if you are on the ground floor and its summer. It is surrounded by 3 alleys and the mopeds do occasionally zip down them, plus there is no air conditioning so you need the fresh air through the window. We needed to be extra security cautious as we were on the ground floor and wanted the air (no screens), however, there is absolutely no sense of concern and I do believe the risk is very very low. You may want to request a first floor room away from the streets to manage both of these elements (we'll be doing that next time!). The cheaper rooms are also small but perfectly formed, so expect cosy! The breakfast is a decent continental spread for a reasonable price, or you might choose to go to the boulangerie/bakery which is less than a minute away. If you are driving, there is parking very close by which will cost about 7 euro a day in the meters. There are other options a few more minutes away. Go to Ars-en-Re and stay at Hotel le Senechal - you will not be disappointed.

Room Tip: Ask for a first floor room away from the front street
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Its_Small_World
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waalre, Netherlands
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
Reviewed September 11, 2011

We stayed in Le Senechal for 3 days and enjoyed the hotel very much. It is located in the centre of Ars-en-Ré, a village towards the western end of Ile-de-Ré. Ars-en-Ré is a little sleepy village and far less touristic than the island's main town St Martin-en-Ré (although also that is very enjoyable). Early September was a relatively quiet period, with the summer season just having ended the big crowds were gone.
The hotel consists of a number of renovated separate houses, that are interconnected by small courtyards. One of the courtyards features a small plunge-type swimming pool and sundeck. All rooms are different in size, shape and outfitting. But they all share the same level of attention to detail that the owners have put into creating a tasteful blend of old and new. Rooms may well feature in architectural or interior design magazines. Since white is the dominating colour of the island, that colour also shows in the rooms' interior: white-washed old stone walls, bleached wood panelling and floor, white-ish chairs and bedding.
Our room (#15) was quite large (to French standards), we even had a small roof terrace to enjoy the afternoon sun. Bathroom was fine, although we would have preferred a shower instead of the bath, towels were very large and soft (far better than in most hotels). Bed and chairs were very comfortable.
The hotel lobby and flowery courtyards provide a very pleasant, relaxed atmosphere to enjoy breakfast, have a coffee, read a book, pick up your e-mail (using the free hotel WiFi) or just hang around a bit. The hotel does not provide lunch or evening meals, but the village has a number of reasonable restaurants, especially "O de mer" (just around the corner) is excellent!
No negatives? Yes, there are a few:
- during the renovation, some larger spaces in the buildings appear to have been subdivided into smaller rooms, with separation walls made of wood. Sound proofing is less than what one would like to have!
- majority of the rooms has a bath: biking trips, beach visits or warm weather would make a shower a lot more preferable
- some of the ground floor rooms are directly adjacent to an alley that turns out to be one of the passageways for people coming from the village centre; room windows and/or shutters are best kept closed for privacy and safety
- the more spacious 1st and 2nd floor rooms are quite expensive, compared to rates of most other hotels on the island
- the hotel has no parking facilities; there is some nearby parking at the village church square around the corner, but it requires paying a meter charge. Free parking is available at a large public parking some 4-5 minutes walk away (meant to keep the tourist traffic out of the village), but overnight there are less cars, and various little heaps of smashed car window glass indicate unwelcome visitors. We parked there during the day, but took the car to the village square parking after 7 PM when parking is free until the morning.
Overall we enjoyed our stay here very much: Le Senechal has a pleasant atmosphere, is comfortable and well located. We would certainly recommend this hotel, but suggest you carefully study the room information on the hotel website to make a good room selection.

Room Tip: Study the room specifications on the hotel website, as all rooms are different. Ground floor rooms n...
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank TravellerJanWaalre
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed August 6, 2010

We discovered Le Senechal only after having to cancel a trip to Greece due to my husband breaking his collarbone and five ribs in a cycling accident. Blessed with glorious weather, we had an idyllic week.
We booked quite late and took room 23. We were worried about the noise from the courtyard. It is on the first floor and overlooks the church and square. But it was great; fascinating to look at the activities of the locals - including a weekly market.
Bathroom slightly narrow, but perfectly ok.
I loved the fact that the rooms were all different and had their own plus points
I loved the architecture and the style of the hotel; relaxed, informal and unquestioning. I don't understand why some people criticise the staff - we found them most helpful.
Breakfasts were good. Good jam and eggs.
We wer eslightly concerned that we had to leave car in carpark 200 yards away - (we are Londoners!!!) but it was fine. And all seemed pretty safe.
The square has a number of useful shops - including the deli/grocers - you can buy picnic food and English newspapers, and postcards.
Despite my husband's injuries we actually managed to cycle - there is a hire shop just 100 yards away.
The village is by far the most peaceful and pretty on the island.
There are several nice restaurants on the harbour - the best being Bernards. Expensive but worth it and interesting little winding alleyways throughout the village.
I highly recommend hotel... it's good not to have tvs...We took a Laptop and watched John Adams boxed set.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank LondonSian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed November 14, 2009

We stayed in the Le Grande Maison. Our room really was lovely (Natureau 5), the architecture was fantastic and our bathroom was stunning. However, it was quite basic (rustic?) and exceptionally expensive for what it was, although that is partly due to the current conversion rate. We also would have prefered the "hotel" experience of staying in the actual main hotel (with its beautiful courtyard and ambience) rather than what felt like an expensive self-catering holiday (albeit with a great breakfast thrown in every day)

There have been a few negative comments about the hotel staff posted on Trip Advisor. We actually found them fairly pleasant with the odd exception. They didn't exactly go out of their way to help us in any way, but they certainly weren't unpleasant.

It rained for most of our stay and we found Ile de Re lacking in anything to do. The restaurants in Ars en Re were terrible and the people were utterly rude. We walked out of a restaurant for the first time in our lives as it seemed the owners would rather huff at us than lower themselves to serve us or take our money. We had a similar experience throughout Ile de Re and we ended up living on bread from the bakery as they were the only people who were actually nice to us! We ended up being pretty desperate to come home simply due to the rudeness of the people. As such, I won't be returning and certainly would not recommend this over-priced island of exceptionally rude individuals.

If you are French, however, then the hotel is highly recommended!

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Lee59C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
drancy
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2009

a very pretty little hotel, comfortable bed,with a large window giving plenty of light into the room, sweet courtyard, with "lots" of plants...... nice big log fire in the lounge giving a very relaxed atmosphere, I would recommend this hotel if you are looking for somewhere to stay zen.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank kazzetta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Le Senechal

Property: Hotel Le Senechal
Address: 6 Rue Gambetta, 17590 Ars-en-Re, Ile de Re, France
Location: France > Nouvelle-Aquitaine > Charente-Maritime > Ile de Re > Ars-en-Re
Amenities:
Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Ars-en-Re
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Hotel Le Senechal 3*
Number of rooms: 22
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Charming hotel in the middle of the village, rooms are all different, patios full of flowers, a little heated swimming pool, a fire place, a hearty staff, an ideal place to spend a wonderful stay in ile de Re. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Le Senechal Hotel
Hotel Le Senechal Ile De Re/Ars-En-Re, France

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