Our trip to the South of France was predominantly based around Grasse, however as we were flying in and out from Nice airport I thought it was worth spending a night or two by the coast before we flew home. I didn’t have to do any research for the hotel as the minute I had worked out our schedule, I knew where I wanted to stay.
The Negresco Hotel is an iconic building right by the beach along the Promenade des Anglais. Originally designed and set up by Henri Negresco, he had a vision to attract wealthy international clientele, their website quotes them as ‘Kings of the old and new world.’
Henri hired one of the most famous Belle Epoque Architects, Monsieur Edouard Niermans, to help create his plan of a luxurious Palais style hotel to compete with others that lined the Riviera at that time. From what I read on the plaques in the Grand Hall, the hotel came under pressures during the war and never really fully recovered until it was sold to the Augier family. Madame Jeanne Augier reinvigorated the hotel with luxurious decorations and furnishings, including an outstanding art collection, which today boasts thousands of pieces.
I have a real passion for expressive art, detailed architecture and have always loved the belle époque area, so there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would be doing whatever was necessary to stay at the Negresco in Nice. 2013 was also the 100 year anniversary for the hotel, it was a big birthday for Mo and the Negresco.
We pulled up in our teeny VW Polo and the doorman, dressed in red and blue velvet attire, came straight to take our bags, the valet took our car and we were left to stroll into reception and sort out our booking. As usual we were early so we asked if it was possible to grab some lunch in one of their restaurants, ideally La Rotonde. The restaurants at the Negresco are famous in their own right so they totally get their own blog post, I couldn’t possibly gush about them on here or this would turn into yet another monster essay.
Obviously, budget restrictions meant I wasn’t able to book us a suite and instead Mo and I had to settle for a basic room. I say settle, but a basic room at The Negresco is still pretty awesome. All of the guest rooms are uniquely decorated, inspired by a period of French art. The suites on the website looked particularly spectacular, but to be honest if we were to come back I would probably book this room again anyway. Its comfortable and clean and there’s so much to do in Nice (and the rest of the hotel), we spent most of our time exploring and used the room purely as a crash pad.
We spent a a fair bit of time nosying round the hotel as it was just so interesting. The Grand Hallway after the reception area is a stunning gallery and the corridors to the shops and restaurants are also filled with quirky odds and sods. Every floor is festooned with a selection of artwork on the walls, on the console tables, on the floors, all from different eras and areas of the world. So it’s worth taking the stairs when you can, just to take it all in. The combination of modern and fine art forms all housed in Niermans beautifully designed framework is breathtaking and so enchanting. If ever I have to think about my favourite art gallery in the world I would think of this hotel. It epitomises my own belief of having art in a functional space. You can either take the time to specifically look at the individual pieces or simply take a seat and glance at the collection and appreciate it as a whole (This is how I envision my home to be one day).
I know I said take the stairs when you are wandering around, but don’t completely miss out the lift, even that is quite quirky. Kind of like being in a lush velvet padded cell, in a good way, if that’s possible?
Location wise, you cannot go wrong. We walked everywhere from here. The hotel really is situated in the heart of the Promenade and we didn’t need the car once. We were able to stroll the streets and still visit all the places on my to do sheets. The hotel has it’s own private beach area, however we were there in March and it wasn’t really the weather for us to enjoy this particular facility. I can only imagine how great it would be in the summer.
If you are into art and design, this hotel is a must! And if you’re not, that’s ok too because this hotel is so wonderfully quirky and luxurious in every way I struggle to think of any faults with it.