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Best beach clubs in Europe

W

hat are the key ingredients for a great European beach club? Usually it starts with the setting – an ethereal cove or perhaps sun loungers scattered across buttermilk sand wrapping an island. Then it’s the tone, broadly set by interiors (refined? rustic? minimalist?), the music and the cocktail game.

But the crowd is unequivocally the most important ingredient of all – no matter how photogenic the linen finishes or killer sunsets are, there’s no magic formula for luring in a chic bunch, and there’s no given that the joint will be dancing by 10pm, though the DJ will try his best.

With this in mind, from classics such as Plage 55 on Pampelonne beach, where the rosé flows, to lesser-known spots such as Republiek Bloemdaal in the Netherlands for lazy, seafood lunches, here are the best beach clubs in Europe.

Byblos, Saint Tropez

Onefor: the wine

Hotel Byblos was just as crucial as Brigitte Bardot in shaping Saint Tropez’ starry reputation — the raucous celebrity parties in its underground nightclub, Caves du Roy; Mick Jagger’s wedding… It was the South of France’s linen spin on Studio 54. Only recently though has the iconic hotel stretched its tentacles out as far as the waterfront, opening its own beach club on the legendary Pampelonne beach. Come here for the dizzying standards of locavore food Byblos guests are accustomed to, for elaborate cocktails and for simply reclining on a sunbed in lounge music-induced delirium. This hedonistic scene is in fact, incredibly eco-conscious – the wooden structure can be dismantled in winter months for the beach to breath and plastic is strictly forbidden. byblos.com

Byblos beach club

Ftelia Beach Club (now Ftelia Pacha), Mykonos

Onefor: music

This bona fide beach club occupies an unspoilt, sandy stretch (unusual for Mykonos) in the north of the island. Expect barefoot antics, fueled by rose, but chic of course. The music has a lot to do with this – beats from the world’s top DJ’s cascade through three-floors of linen-clad guests, all gazing out towards a balmy Aegean Sea from the clifftop setting. This is sunset-to-sunrise territory, without the stilettos. destinationpachamykonos.com

Ftelia Pacha

/ Ftelia Pacha

La Reserve a la Plage, Saint Tropez

Onefor: the interiors

La Reserve Ramatuelle’s signature refined simplicity now reclines along Saint Tropez’ most famous stretch of sand, in rustic, rattan style. Sharing plates of fresh ceviche, , lobster and sizzling bavette de boeuf splay out across long tables, much like the post-lunch crowd digesting the feast like sleeping lions under Slim Aarons-style creme umbrellas. And while the food is sensational, the rosé pale and plentiful, the mis-matched pastel chairs, linen napkins and woven basket lampshades dressing this origami-like wooden structure sets a bare-food chic scene that is hard to leave. lareserve-plage.com

La Reserve a la Plage, Saint Tropez

/ La Reserve a la Plage

Purobeach Vilamoura, Majorca

Onefor: the wellness treatments

This is where the wellness brigade comes, and invariably sin – the odd glass of cool wine or several cocktails often accompanies lunch’s cavalcade of tasty sharing plates. But they can stay on the straight and narrow with a deep tissue massage overlooking the sea. Beach club clichés (the chicer end) are unashamedly embraced here – the white umbrellas and sunloungers, the pool whose glassy stare is rarely broken, the palms and pumping music. And the sunset, cracking like yolk over an endless horizon for couples drunk on jazz. purobeach.com/

Purobeach Vilamoura, Majorca

/ Purobeach Vilamoura

Republiek Bloemendaal, The Netherlands

Onefor: the architecture

A mere 30-minute drive from Amsterdam lies the low-key and lovely seaside resort of Bloemendaal aan Zee. Perched along this pretty stretch of Dutch coastline is a contemporary, concrete bastion of modern design: The Republiek beach club and the seaside outpost of its owners’ handful arty hotels back in Amsterdam. The tone is less barefoot beach club, more tech billionaire with taste and good architect contacts built something cool in Holland’s Hamptons. The brutalist windows, mid-century chairs and external cabin-like facade would attest. republiekbloemendaal.nl

The Republiek beach club

/ Republiek Bloemendaal instagram

Fontelina Beach Club, Capri

Onefor: landscape

Familiar with those blown up prints of Capri, where blue and white umbrellas are sprinkled along craggy rocks and a turquoise sea winks in the midday sun? It’s most probably Fontelina Beach Club in Capri, a legendary, photogenic spot where lashings of oil are drizzled over heavy plates of fresh seafood and sun-kissed, languid bodies. Rocks surge from the water ahead, touching the clouds and slowly pulling down the sunset like a theater curtain. Fontelina-capri.com

Fontelina Beach Club, Capri

/ Fontelina Beach Club

Nammos, Mykonos

Onefor: the food

It’s a classic, it’s flashy and it’s a firm favorite among celebrity circles, from Paris Hilton to Mariah Carey. Guests pull up in Rivas or hop off helicopters for the full sushi and sashimi lunch washed down with several bottles of Dom Perignon. The turquoise striped umbrellas are cleverly written into the subdued landscape of rocks and sand and the curtains on seafront cabanas billow in a hot, Aegean wind. Nammos has recently partnered with Parklane Resort & Spa in Cyprus, spreading the laid-back luxury brief still further across the Mediterranean. nammos.com

Arienzo Beach Club, Positano

Onefor: the dolce vita

Drawn into the coast like an artist’s sketch, in red and white strokes, Arienzo Beach Club embodies the sweet life idyl that desk soldiers lust over. Particularly in Positano, where Amalfi Coast expectations are as high as its sprawling cliff-clinging fishing villages and Aperol’s burn a wild orange in the sun. Come here for unfussy Positanese cuisine, for heart-wrenchingly pretty views, bottles of beer and cliff jumping. arienzbeachclub.com

Arienzo Beach Club, Positano

/ Arienzo Beach Club

The Chiringuito, Ibiza

Onefor: Lofi Ibiza

It would be remiss of a writer to leave Ibiza out of a European beach club round up. But El Chiringuito feels worlds away from the techno clubs and raving crowds. Its minimalist wooden loungers and soft cream sofas are carefully woven into the surrounding dunes and white sands. Food here is honest, global and seriously tasty (expect tuna ceviche, wild sole meunière and pasta alla norma. elchiringuitoibiza.com

The Chiringuito, Ibiza

/ The Chiringuito, Ibiza

Club 55, Pampelonne

Onefor: the stories

There are several reasons that Pampelonne Beach keeps cropping up in this feature, the most notable being its pedigree. In 1955, Madame de Colmont cooked lunch from her beach hut for Brigitte Bardot and the crew of ‘And God Created Woman’, the film that put both Saint Tropez and Club 55 on the map. Now part of Saint Tropez folklore, lunches are pricey, but drinks under make-shift bamboo roofs, whose stenciled strips of sunlight animate faces, touch on the original essence of Club 55 (once you’ve exhausted the celebrity safari). club55.fr

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