A palatial stay in the heart of Nice
Le Negresco isn’t the only graceful hotel in the French Riviera, of course, but it may be its most fascinating. The property’s enthralling backstory — the 1913-constructed hotel was the idea of Henri Negresco, a charismatic casino owner, but it didn’t blossom into the elegant address we know today until it was purchased by Madame Jeanne Augier in the late 1950s — sets the tone for a visit.
Still, it's Augier's opulent (if not a bit eccentric) eye for mink bedspreads or dapperly attired doormen that have made the pink-domed hotel a must-visit for royals, Hollywood's elite and well-heeled globetrotters.
But the 117-room jewel box isn't content with merely being a showroom of gilded furnishings and lavish chandeliers, and it proudly demonstrates this by equipping rooms with flat-screen TVs and other up-to-the-second technological treats.
It doesn't matter if you're more intrigued with the new or the old, you'll agree that Le Negresco's position along the Mediterranean Sea is an absolute thing of beauty. Bask in the views from your water-facing room or at your table at the posh Le Chantecler Restaurant.
In between camera snaps, though, be sure to check your surroundings for a famous face because you never know who Augier is having over for the night.
Our Inspector’s Highlights
• Le Negresco is an homage to the subtle and contrasted French décor. Though entwined in eccentricity, the luxury hotel’s soul is classically French.
• The antique furniture and collection pieces handsomely blend with Mediterranean soft colors, silk hangings and velvet textures, creating stunning displays of French palace life.
• Le Negresco owes its strong identity partly to a large art collection. Madame Jeanne Augier has gathered some of the most prestigious paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries (along with modern sculptures and other show pieces) and has them displayed throughout common areas and the rooms.
What to Know
• Le Negresco has several venue options for your next event on the French Riviera. Plan a grand reception in the majestic Royal Lounge, an area sitting under a large glass dome that could be considered Le Negresco’s heartbeat. Or, you can set up your private story in the Versailles Lounge, a space with Louis XIV’s portrait and a 968-square-foot terrace.
• The elevator is original to the Nice hotel. With its red paint, chandelier and old-fashioned feel, you’d almost expect an attendant to be inside pushing buttons to the floors.
Le Negresco’s Bar may be famous for its walnut woodwork and wondrous cocktails, but its Live Sessions music shows on Friday and Saturday evenings are a delight, too. Residents and guests have a blast to rock, reggae, jazz and many other genres.
• Higher-floor rooms have the better views and are more quiet.
• Each floor has a different theme (animals or Asia, for example) and all the rooms are individually designed and well-equipped. Some rooms are fabulously quirky while others are more traditional. A few units feel a bit dated, but they're all charming in their own individual way.
• The bathroom, naturally, is far from standard. Though some of the washrooms have rose-colored marble counters you’d find in other high-end addresses, here you’ll also spy acrylic gold sinks or striped walls that could be dubbed as pure kitsch elsewhere but not here.
• Though the French Riviera hotel’s tapestried halls might indicate otherwise, the property is certainly of the times with its earth-first policies. Le Negresco uses energy-saving light bulbs, promotes guest recycling and its onsite restaurants proudly uses produce from local growers.
• With the feel of a vintage carousel ride, the La Rotonde brasserie is decorated in a colorful hodgepodge of wooden horses, puppets, a circus tent and pink velvet sofas. The surreal hall gives the appearance as if the room could start spinning at any moment.
• Unlike your traditional fair where you’d find a funnel cake or corn dog, La Rotonde’s prized treat is the bergamot and hazelnut king’s cake, a crispy puff pastry filled with Sicilian bergamot frangipane and slivers of roasted hazelnut.
• At heralded Le Chantecler, expect romanticism, elegance and a savory display of French gastro delights on chef Jean-Denis Rieubland’s menu every night.