One of the best things about Hotel Les Mouettes (translated: The Seagulls) on Corsica’s jagged western coast, is its wonderful outdoor terrace overlooking the glistening clear waters of the bay, the maquis-draped mountains and the picturesque town of Porticcio.
The four-star hotel’s uplifting color scheme and design of its spacious lobby areas delightfully contrast the crimson and white furnishings. A distinct coral theme permeates the hotel as they are embroidered on cushions, framed in drawings on the walls, designed on standing table decorations and creatively formed into the shape of lamp stands. Inside, one is beguiled by a bright, mixed décor of gold leaf mirrors; art nouveau wall lamps with pretty, filigree designs; colorful ceramic vases; and Queen Anne chairs. Even the paintings are diverse, ranging from a classic portrait of a medieval Florentine prefect to a print by Colombia figurative artist Fernando Botero, and including a framed historic world map. One sidewall is almost entirely papered in a blue-green, pink-red tropical vegetation theme. A large open fireplace beckons one to sit down and bathe in the ambiance.
Originally the summer residence of a local wealthy family, Les Mouettes was a villa built in 1880 and named after the birds that perched on the rocks in front of it. It then enjoyed stints as a seaside establishment (Hostellerie de la Grande Bleue), a nursery and then a film studio before becoming a hotel again in 1954. In 2006, the Pieri family, who also own one of Corsica’s oldest boutique hotels, Castel Brando in Erbalunga, took it over.
The guestroom, neither too showy nor too basic, provides a separate bathroom and toilet, ample floor-to-ceiling wardrobe space and a very comfortable, firm double bed. A sense of airiness is created by the color scheme (predominantly white) and the furniture. The double sliding doors look out onto the swimming pool below and the sea scattered with boats and sailing yachts and the green-clothed mountains beyond.
Aside from leisurely walks through Ajaccio, we spent a considerable amount of time relaxing on chaise lounges in the stone-tiled, sunbathing area around the heated, saltwater pool. For added pleasure, a small Jacuzzi is located discreetly in a corner for privacy. A few steps further takes guests to the hotel’s strip of private beach or to a series of flat, smooth rocks that makes for fun snorkeling escapades. Goggles, flippers and other necessary accessories stand nearby for complimentary guest use.
Hotel Les Mouettes serves a buffet breakfast and sandwiches but has no full service restaurant of its own. However, right next door is Le Cabanon Bleu. With a wonderfully romantic terrace location right at the edge of the sea, this restaurant serves mainly seafood and fresh fish, but also some meat dishes.
The property is reached off the main coast road about one mile outside Ajaccio through a large white metal gate for pedestrians only. Parking is at the side of the building in a quite tight space. The outside patio resembles a Spanish courtyard with terracotta tiles, two huge eucalyptus trees, banana trees and a large overarching oak. Due to its location, Les Mouettes offers calm and convenience without the stress of traffic snarls and with the added advantage of being close to a long seaside promenade leading directly to the center of Ajaccio. It is a great destination for enjoying a tranquil Corsica vacation.