The Negresco Hotel in Nice is where the rich, famous and powerful stay. Royalty, presidents and leaders from around the globe plot up here for a break, knowing they will be looked after to the nth degree. It’s also perfect for holiday makers who really want to push the boat out at a hotel that’s über luxurious and special, the sort of place that memories are made of.
A landmark hotel
The wedding cake good looks of this palatial hotel make it a much loved landmark in the southern French city. It was designed by Dutch architect Edouard Niermans (designer of the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere in Paris).
There’s a 2 star Michelin restaurant, one of the finest in Nice, and a gorgeous kitsch bistro called La Rotonde where the style is 18th century carousel – and yes, the horses do go up and down! If you’re not a guest in the hotel, this is a fab way to experience the place without breaking the bank, the lunch time menu is surprisingly affordable and well worth it.
In one splendid sitting room known as The Royal Lounge there is a Baccarat 16,309-Crystal Chandelier which was commissioned by Czar Nicholas II. It weighs an astonishing 1000kg. There are only two such lamps as this in the world, the other is in the Kremlin. Underneath it in complete contrast is a wonderful Nana sculpture by artist Niki de Saint Phalle.
The art of Negresco
There is an incredible collection of art on every floor laid out in themes and beautifully showcased in purpose built nooks and crannies – the personal collection of Madame Augier, the owner. She bought the hotel in 1957 and this formidable Madame has overseen everything, the finest detail has never been overlooked.
In her mid 90’s, these days she rarely leaves her 6th floor apartment at the hotel but her legacy is strong especially in the art works personally chosen for display from her collection of 6000 pieces. There are precious antique Japanese vases and even a Napoleonic uniform displayed on the wall of the bar (a bit like a football shirt in a theme pub but much posher of course) as well as contemporary works.
Friendly and fantastic
I was lucky enough to have a tour from the charming Bar Chef Lotfi Kahlaoui who clearly loves the hotel. He made me the most amazing Mimosa in the gorgeous bar and offered to show me round. “You must see the men’s toilette” he whispered conspiratorially to me and checked it was empty to give me the all clear. Inside are Napoleon’s wash basin and chest, and the room is decorated to look like the emperor’s room on a ship. “Magnificent isn’t it” says Lotfi and I had to agree.
Everywhere we went on our walk round the hotel, friendly staff greeted us. I was dressed in my usual scruffy jeans and shirt and no one batted an eyelid. Non-residents are welcome to use the bar and restaurants (you do need a jacket for the Chantecler 2 star restaurant). If you want to relish a cocktail made by the master mixer Lotfi and his expert team, it will set you back around 16 euros, worth it to sit in the cool bar or chic outdoor terrace and watch the world promenade by. Or you could always book a suite for an eye-watering 3000 Euros – with a sea view of course!