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Let no one say that Hôtel Le Negresco, a grand, pink-domed palace on the French Riviera’s Bay of Angels, lacks character. In a town with more than its share of storied old hotels, Le Negresco’s history might take the prize. It was founded by the son of a gypsy violinist, immediately attracted a long roster of dukes and counts and queens, posted a fortune-making profit of 800,000 gold francs in its first year of operation, was shortly thereafter converted into a WWI hospital at the founder’s expense, sent the founder into financial ruin within five years of its opening, fell into near-oblivion, and now stands, again, as one of the finest hotels in Nice.
If opulence isn’t your thing, then this is not the hotel for you. But can a palace-hotel on the French Riviera really be faulted for its excesses? The Salon Royal, where you can have a cup of tea before heading across the road to the beach, revolves around a chandelier that contains 16,800 pieces of Baccarat glass; that chandelier hangs from a lofty domed ceiling surrounded by stained-glass cherubs and gold vines climbing up the pillars toward elaborate crown molding. In the Michelin-starred restaurant, Chantecler, the tables have pink linen table cloths, fresh bouquet-centerpieces and what seem like enough wine glasses to contain the contents of the 15,000 bottles in the cellar. The restaurant’s elaborately carved wooden walls have about 250 years of varnish worked into them, and the chairs are upholstered in fuchsia velvet. You’ll find a second restaurant in the style of a Pompadour carousel, enough gold-framed portraits of people with big wigs and powdered faces to fill a court, museum-worthy sculptures everywhere you look and — well, you get the idea.
The rooms, furnished with antiques and art in your choice of Art Deco, Baroque or Classical styles, are no less richly appointed than the public spaces. Expect elaborately patterned wall paper, headboards that would suit a dozing Sun King, more crown molding and additional chandeliers. Aside from the three styles, the views are what really distinguish the rooms. The sea-view rooms, many with floor-to-ceiling windows behind billowing curtains, are the ones to get, though those with garden views on the other side of the palace are nothing to sniff at, either.
Everywhere you look, there’s a lot of very French, very old-fashioned detail to take in. When you start to feel like you’re trapped Midnight in Paris–style in the Gilded Age, just call the concierge. He can summon a helicopter to take you back to the 21st century, or wherever you might wish to go.
- 117 Rooms
- Style: Traditional Elegance
- Atmosphere: Lively
- Hôtel Le Negresco
- 37, Promenade des Anglais
- Nice, France
Hotel amenities and services
- Central air conditioning
- Free wi-fi
- Multi-lingual staff
- Room service
- Valet parking (charges apply)
- Wake-up service