Hotel Negresco does not meet the criteria required for a five star hotel rating. Let’s just get that out of the way. The rules were broken for it to receive its five star rating and rightly so.
This is the hotel that Bill Gates tried to write a blank cheque for- the cheque was subsequently pushed back in his face. This is the only palace in France that is French owned so the current owner is adamant it should remain in French hands.
Staying here is like staying in a museum but a living museum. All the Hollywood and European notables come here, at least to eat. The decor is something else, like Louis XVI took a detour to Disneyland and brought back his ideas to this very place. The walls are lined with multiple Miro’s and Picasso’s. Each corridor of hotel rooms housing a different gallery e.g. African, Contemporary. But for me the standout was the furniture. I loved the beautiful gold and brass antique chairs in their unusual fabrics and this glorious setting does them justice.
The chandelier when you enter the lobby is one of a kind, renowned all over. It’s counterpart hangs in the Kremlin! To your left you will find the Versailles room which is used as an events space. I find it utterly show stopping and since my profession does not take me to the South of France I plan to host my next big birthday party here!
Keep walking down the corridor and even if you are not staying in the hotel, it is worth checking out the unusual red lift on the left hand side. Rumour has it that this is what caused the current owner to buy it in the first place. As you pass the lift you will enter the atrium which is very possibly the most glorious living room in the land. A statue of a rather large and in charge dancing lady, adorns the centre, but your eyes are drawn up to the ceiling or to the surrounding pillars and the sculptures that decorate the outer circle. More beautiful baroque furniture is spread across the space and I wished I could curl up in a chair and people watch all day.
But I couldn’t, because I was too busy eating! There are two main restaurants in the hotel. You will have breakfast at La Rotonde, which is part carousel, part my little pony HQ. You have to visit to believe me when I say it is not as hideous as you think, and breakfast was wonderful. In my view, the French do so many things well but breakfast is not one of them. Not so at La Rotonde, where you can have fruit, eggs, cheeses, pastries and even crepes and waffles for breakfast. If it’s sunny, ask to take your breakfast outside to the terrace and feel the sea breeze waft over your nutella- dipped waffle. C’est magnifique, non?
Even if you do not stay at the hotel you must make a reservation at Le Chantecler, a two Michelin star restaurant, which is the kind of French cooking there is simply not enough of!! No heavy creamy artery tightening fare here, neither is there any of the dreaded foam! Instead it is wonderfully flavoursome, light, innovative cooking that brings out the subtleties of local seasonal produce. Do order the soufflé, with at least twenty minutes notice, and it’s probably best you don’t make any plans for after as you will be extremely full.
The rooms at the Negresco are large, some palatial and the colours are often well, garish, but it’s comfortable and avant-garde which is a rare find. I ticked off all the must have’s- wardrobe space, hairdryer, slippers, robes, good lighting etc You will want for nothing except maybe your favourite pair of sunglasses when you wake up in the morning because if your room isn’t all lurid yellow velvets and textured wallpaper then your bathroom will be neon orange! All rooms have wonderful views of the Mediterranean Sea and ordering breakfast or an afternoon club sandwich and flinging the balcony doors back is always a great idea.
If you want the full on glam of the South of France then maybe keep travelling along the coastline to Cannes and St Tropez, but if you want great French hospitality and food, sea views and an eccentric overload, then stay at The Negresco.
Finally I want to give a heartfelt shout out to all the staff of the Negresco who created a makeshift field hospital in their lobby and banquet rooms the night of the terrorist attacks on the Promenade des Anglais not so long ago. Their quick thinking and open hearts saved many lives and for this alone, the Negresco deserves a Citizen Femme stamp of approval.