Review: Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel (French Riviera)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Today: Review of Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel (French Riviera)

Located between Nice and Monaco, on a peninsula facing the Mediterranean, Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel is a French Riviera icon. This award-winning legend has hosted many heads of state, celebrities, and artists since 1908. Guests can settle into one of 49 guest rooms, 24 suites, or a villa with views of the sea or lush pine forest. World-class facilities include a luxurious spa, an infinity-edge swimming pool at Club Dauphin, and Michelin-starred cuisine at Le Cap. Without any doubt, Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel is one of the best properties I’ve ever stayed at.

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels on the French Riviera and the best Four Seasons hotels in the world.

Have you ever stayed at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is located in the heart of one of the world’s most glamorous destinations: the jagged Cap-Ferrat peninsula on the French Rievera. At the turn of the 20th century, Cap-Ferrat was little more than a charming fishing village, surrounded by a wilderness of rocks and dense scrubland. Today, the magnificent peninsula is an enclave for billionaires, living in grand old villas that are hidden for the most part in the depths of tropical gardens. Cap -Ferrat is also a top attraction for travelers, who come here to enjoy the seaside setting, the unspoiled natural forests, and to walk the famous coastline trail (from where you catch peeks of the incredible villas). The peninsula – and hotel – is just a short drive from Monaco (25 minutes), Nice (30 minutes) and Cannes (50 minutes).
  • There are few settings as exclusive and spectacular as the one of Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat. Occupying a 17 acres (7 hectares) clifftop location in a beautifully manicured landscape, the property affords stupendous views over the Mediterranean Sea. A tiled driveway leads to the main hotel building, whose pristine white façade contrasts with the azure light of sea and sky. The main hotel building – which houses the lobby, most rooms, and two restaurants – is surrounded by gardens lush with lavender, pine and citrus trees. Cascading down the hill, the property extends into its famous beach club – called Club Dauphin – which has direct access (either by private funicular or stairs) to the seafront on the furthermost tip of the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, right next to the famous light house.
  • The hotel’s storied past goes back to royalty. In the 19th century, piece by piece, King Leopold II of Belgium purchased the peninsula’s only wooded area and expanded his own estate by buying up most of the surrounding vacant land. Shortly before 1900, Leopold sold part of his property to Mr Péretmère, the son of a coachman who decided to build a hotel on the grounds. Construction began in 1908 with two wings built at an open angle to each other, then the following year a loggia dining room and a central rotunda were added. A little later, the hotel was bought by Madame Ferras, the grandmother of famous violinist Christian Ferras. After the World Wars, the hotel continued to build on its reputation as one of the world’s most exclusive properties. Several extensions were added and in 2015, hotel management was taken over by Four Seasons.
  • Although the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is more than 100 years old, it features a magnificent design that has withstood the test of time among endless series of renovations. The latest extensive refurbishment was done in 2009 by renowned designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who introduced a creamy white palette in the lobby and adjacent bay-windowed rotunda built by the great Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel). The hotel’s understated and soothing decor mixes gleaming white marble with chic textures of white and beige and touches of crystal and glass glimmering like nearby waters. Emphasis is put on the lovely sea views and colorful reproductions of works by artists including Picasso, Cocteau, Matisse, Chagall, Modigliani and Rodin – many of whom were local to the area and regular guests at the hotel.
  • The hotel’s 74 sumptuous rooms & suites are spread over three buildings – the original 1908 Palace, the contemporary Residence, and the singular Villa Rose-Pierre. During my visit, I was upgraded to a fabulous Palace Sea View Suite in the hotel’s central section, which offered beautiful views over the hotel gardens and the Mediterranean Sea. The suite – which felt more like a residential apartment – featured an entrance hall, separate living area, a large bedroom with kingsize bed and gorgeous marble bathroom equipped with walk-in shower, bathtub and two sinks. The suite’s design was inspired by the Riviera’s ’40s and ’50s heyday, with a neutral color palette of pale, earthy tones with splashes of jade and turquoise. Note that some of the suites come with private terraces or plunge pools, offering the ultimate in comfort and luxury.
  • With room for 13 people, the hotel’s magnificent Villa Rose-Pierre is nestled in a one-acre private garden, with a professional fitted kitchen and wine cellar and exclusive access to its very own private freshwater pool, tennis court and petanque field. Villa Rose-Pierre takes its name from its salmon pink walls, which blend with the Riviera sun to cast an inviting warmth throughout the residence. The interior design combines a modern Mediterranean aesthetic with traditional European sophistication. Tiles and mosaics throughout the villa reflect the Mediterranean theme, while a spiral staircase adds a dramatic touch. There are four color-themed bedrooms, each including their own luxurious lounge and office areas while offering picturesque sea views. The bathrooms continue the luxury theme with Jacuzzis.
  • Just across a small street from the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat’s main domain is the entrance to the property’s legendary beach club (called “Club Dauphin”). Fom here, a footpath descends down the mountain to the beach club although the spot can also be reached via a glass funicular. At the beach club, guests can enjoy a swim in the Club’s spectacular Olympic-sized infinity pool, relax on the comfortable sun loungers, spend the day in one of the private cabanas to make the most of this sunny spot, or have an delicious lunch at Club Dauphin’s poolside restaurant. The beach club is a gated facility but it offers direct access to the (public) seafront, which is dotted by idyllic coves that are perfect for a safe swim in the refreshing sea water. A beautiful hiking trail that runs around the peninsula also starts from Club Dauphin’s seafront.
  • The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat has long been a favorite retreat among the rich and famous, royal houses, entrepreneurs of finance and industry, and celebrities. Illustrious guests included the novelist Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, David Niven, Winston Churchill and Aristote Onassis. The legendary swimming instructor, Pierre Gruneberg, has given lessons in the Club Dauphin’s swimming pool to Picasso as well as to Frank Sinatra’s children. Gruneberg still teaches guests with the same gusto despite now being in his early 90s. Over the past six decades he has added Bono, George H W Bush and Stella McCartney to his impressive list of graduates. Stella’s father, Sir Paul, even wrote him a note: “Me and the missus thank you for some laughs and some lessons at the Grand Hotel.”
  • The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat offers four venues for dining, drinking and traditional afternoon tea, under the careful guidance of award-winning Executive Chef Didier Yoric Tièche and pastry chef Florent Margaillan:
    • Le Cap is the hotel’s one Michelin starred signature restaurant, serving extraordinary Provençal and Mediterranean cuisine. The menu is accompanied by a list of 600 wines from France’s top vineyards.
    • Located beneath a canopy of 100-year-old Aleppo pine trees, La Véranda is a chic French Riviera bistro, combining influences from Italy and the Mediterranean Sea.
    • Set by the beach club’s saltwater pool is Club Daulphin Restaurant, serving a medley of Mediterranean dishes (open for lunch during the summer season only).
  • The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat offers a wide range of options for both the active traveler and those who wish to relax and rejuvenate by the sea. For relaxation and luxurious pampering, guests can visit the exclusive spa, which is housed in a contemporary building next to the lobby pavilion. The wellness center features 5 treatment rooms and 2 outdoor pavilions, including a couple’s suite, with sea-view sundecks for relaxation before and after treatments. Additional facilities including a whirlpool, sauna, steam room, water therapy showers, and an indoor pool with a countercurrent system, which is perfect for swimming laps and exercising tired muscles. Active travelers will appreciate the state-of-the-art gym, two clay surface tennis courts, and scenic jogging trails throughout the hotel grounds.
  • Since 2015, The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is managed by Four Seasons, probably the best known luxury hotel brand in the world. The Toronto-based company has transformed the hospitality industry in a tale of continual innovation, remarkable expansion and a single-minded dedication to the highest of standards. Four Seasons was founded in 1960 by the young architect Isadore Sharp, but the real breakthrough of the brand came in the seventies with the opening of the Four Seasons London. Although the company went public in 1986, the Sharp family – along with a group of like-minded investors such as Bill Gates and Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal – took the company private again in 2007 to protect the integrity of the brand well into the future.
  • The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat provides exceptional service, as you would expect from the world-famous and highly acclaimed Four Seasons brand. As good as the facilities are, in the end, it is the unmatched service that really has this hotel standing head and shoulders above most of its competitors in the French Rivera. From the second I stepped foot onto the property, I was treated like royalty, thanks to the incredibly hospitality and the welcoming, professional attitude of the hotel staff. Senior managers frequently checked throughout my stay whether everything was ok and whether there was anything I needed. Miraculously, everyone at the resort seems to know your name and what you want before you even know it yourself.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

  • Club Dauphin, the hotel’s private beach club, is open to guests and non-guests (the latter have to pay a day fee that includes lunch and pool access). As a result, at times of high occupancy (summer), it can get busy at the pool and the pool chairs fill up fast (for example, during my stay in a busy summer weekend, most sunbeds were “reserved” by 10am). I recommend the book a lounger one day prior (with the staff of Club Dauphin), to make sure that you get a sunbed the next day in the section of the pool deck that you like the most.
  • The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is one of the most exclusive 5-star hotels on the French Riviera, and its rooms, food and spa services are priced according to its stellar reputation. For example, expect to pay 50 euro per person for a continental breakfast with egg dish (only when breakfast is not included in the room rate). But even though the property is very expensive (and you should know that going in), its prices are similar to what is charged at the other ultra-luxe 5-star palace hotels on the French Riviera.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 10/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Pool: 10/10
  • Rooms: 10/10
  • Food: 10/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional 9,8/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Room tip: all rooms are gorgeous. If possible, I recommend to book a room/suite with sea view on a higher floor in the historic hotel wing.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit the French Riviera is during the late spring to early fall (late May through September). Spring brings balmy days ideal for coastal walks plus the return of wild flowers and lush greenery. In the summer, warm weather draw crowds to the region’s many coastal towns and beaches, so you’ll have to share the scenery with large crowds. Fall is quieter, cooler, and rainier, though early fall is still great, with the sea warm enough for a dip.


HOW TO GET THERE

The hotel is a short taxi drive from Nice International Airport (30 minutes), which is served by most major airlines (click here for an updated list of airlines offering direct flights to Nice).


PHOTOS OF GRAND-HÔTEL DU CAP-FERRAT

Below is a selection of my photos of Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat. To view more hotel photos (including meals), click here.

HOTEL ENTRANCE
HOTEL ENTRANCE
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
GUEST ROOM FLOOR
PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: ENTRY HALL
PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: LIVING AREA
PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: WELCOME AMENITIES
PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: BEDROOM
PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: BEDROOM
PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: BATHROOM

PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: BATHROOM
PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: VIEW
PALACE SEA VIEW SUITE: VIEW
HOTEL GARDEN
HOTEL GARDEN
CLUB DAUPHIN: ENTRANCE
CLUB DAUPHIN: ENTRANCE
CLUB DAUPHIN: ELEVATOR TO BEACH CLUB
CLUB DAUPHIN: POOL DECK
CLUB DAUPHIN: POOL DECK
CLUB DAUPHIN: POOL DECK
CLUB DAUPHIN: POOL DECK
CLUB DAUPHIN: POOL DECK
CLUB DAUPHIN: POOL DECK
SHORELINE IN FRONT OF THE HOTEL
SHORELINE IN FRONT OF THE HOTEL
SHORELINE IN FRONT OF THE HOTEL
SHORELINE IN FRONT OF THE HOTEL
SPA

SPA
SPA
SPA
HOTEL GARDEN
HOTEL GARDEN
SUNSET
DINNER AT LE CAP RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT LA VERANDA RESTAURANT

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1 Comment

  1. Since Four Seasons got involved the prices are ridiculous – they have more than doubled what were quite high already. Glorious hotel but vastly overpriced in season now

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