Hotel: Hotel Negresco, Nice
Address: 37, Promenade des Anglais, 06000, Nice
TraveLife Ranking: Five Plus Stars
Rooms: 140 rooms and 23 suites
Room rates: $500+
Awards: The Negresco has been voted the best luxury hotel in Nice.
Highlights: Museum quality antiques, haute cuisine the likes of which you’ve never tasted before, priceless works of art and charming staff make a stay under Negresco’s famed dome, the one designed by Gustave Eiffel of tower fame, one of the most memorable you’ll ever experience.
History: The hotel opened as a casino in 1905 and was converted into a hotel by Henri Negresco in 1913. The French government classified it an historic monument in 1974. It’s the last of France’s elegant palace hotels. The Negresco has had several owners since but in 1957 it was purchased by the late Paul Augier, a hero of the French Resistance.
Interior highlights: The furnishings throughout the huge white building, considered the last of France's great palace hotels on the French Riviera, are all worthy of museum status. Priceless curiosities can be found in the rooms and hallways and original works of arts, signed by the likes of Rigaud, Nattier, Cocteau and Picasso, adorn the walls. One of the most stunning public rooms in the hotel is Le Salon Louis XIV, featuring coffered ceilings, a 17th-century fireplace and a giant Louis XIV portrait painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud. The decor in this room was inspired by France's grand chateaux and museums. The Salon Royal is dominated by the colorful Nana Jaune, a member of sculptor Nike de Saint Phalle's family of Nanas - a collection of aluminum statues defined by their liberated forms and bright colors. Nana's polyester resin skin is a shocking yellow and her attire is a mixture of bright blues, reds and greens. She is beautiful!
In the next room: The list is a virtual Who's Who from the worlds of royalty (including Queen Elizabeth), politics (just about every world leader) and entertainment (hundreds of actors have stayed here and 34 films, including Ronin starring Robert de Niro, have been shot at the hotel). Some legends surrounding the hotel and its privileged guests include: The late Richard Burton was chatting with the hotel barman and showing him the fabulous emerald necklace and earrings he had purchased for his wife, Liz Taylor, when she called him back to their room. A good half hour later, the barman found the jewels on a bar stool; The late William Holden fell in love with a waitress in La Rotonde named Micheline and admired her in the restaurant from morning to night for two weeks before she finally agreed to join him on a round-the-world trip; Michael Jackson arrived at the hotel with his own chef and converted one of the rooms into a kitchen and another into a dance floor so he could rehearse. When he left the hotel, he dressed in disguises like: a hippie, an English gentleman, a delivery boy and, what the hotel describes as "a woman of easy virtue."
The rooms: Each of the hotel's 119 rooms and 23 suites are decorated in their own authentic style, with the Louis XIV bedroom, Louis XV suite and the Empire apartment with its Napoleon III boudoir, topping the list of jaw-dropping gorgeous rooms.
Amenities: Because of its age, the Negresco does not offer a spa but it does feature a fitness centre, business centre and high-speed internet. This being France, dogs are welcomed.
Restaurants: The hotel's main Michelin star dining room, Le Chantecler, is considered one of the finest on the Cote d'Azur and the fashionable and friendly brasserie-style restaurant called La Rotonde, with its carrousel motif, is a work of art itself.
Shopping: The city’s chic shops and bustling outdoor food market are an easy walk away.
Close By The hotel sits in the heart of Nice, on the famed Promenade des Anglais, and overlooks the Mediterranean. It's only steps away from the town centre, where guests wander the narrow streets and try to negotiate a better price with today's Picassos. The Negresco also provides one of the best viewing points from which to watch Nice's annual carnival parade. Nice’s gravel beach is right across the street.
Tips: Oh, come on – splurge a little. You can find much cheaper accommodation in Nice but none more entertaining or beautiful. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to stay in a stately French Chateau, this is your chance. Try and secure a room during Carnival. The views you’ll get from your balcony of the colorful parade will stun and amuse you. Be prepared to see lots of topless women on the beach across the street.