Last month, I enjoyed a short break in France, where I stayed at some iconic hotels (French Riviera + Paris). You can read my reviews here:
- Review: easyJet A320 from Brussels to Nice
- Review: Grand-Hôtel du Cap–Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, French Riviera
- Review: Le Negresco Hotel, French Riviera (today)
- Review: Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, Paris (coming soon)
Today: Review of Le Negresco Hotel (Nice, France)
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: Le Negresco Hotel
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
For over a century, Le Negresco Hotel has been writing the legend of Nice and the French Riviera. Built in 1913, the hotel is a magnificent, privately owned Belle Époque palace, classified as a National Historic monument. The hotel is ideally situated on the seafront promenade overlooking the scenic Bay of Angels on the Mediterranean Sea. The spectacular salons are richly furnished with a collection of antiques and extraordinary contemporary works of art. The creative guest rooms, with evocative names like the Suite Louis XVI, Pompadour, and La Traviata, are a unique harmony of history, tradition, and modernity. Le Negresco is also home to the city’s finest restaurant, the Michelin-starred Le Chantecler.
Have you ever stayed at Le Negresco Hotel? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Enjoying an enviable seafront location in Nice, Le Negresco Hotel is set along the curving Promenade des Anglais, offering one of the most beautiful views of the Bay of Angels. The property is just across the famous promenade from Nice’s popular pebble beach, and next door to the landscaped Mediterranean gardens of the Massena Palace Museum of Art and History. Many restaurants, art galleries, and shops are closeby, while it’s only a ten minute stroll to Nice’s Old Town (‘Vieux Ville’), where narrow and shaded streets are lined by historic houses and churches. Nice International Airport is about 15 minutes by car.
- The legendary hotel is named after Henri Negresco (1868–1920), who had the palatial hotel constructed in 1912. Negresco – a young Romanian and son of an innkeeper – was appointed as a director at the Municipal Casino of Nice at the time, and had a dream to build a lavish hotel for a prestigious clientele that would bring money with them to play at his casino. After raising capital, Negresco hired Édouard-Jean Niermans – the innovative architect responsible for the ‘café society’ – to design the hotel, which opened to much fanfare in 1913. When WWI started the following year, the guests stopped coming, Le Negresco went bankrupt and the hotel became a hospital. After the World Wars, it reopened as a hotel, but slowly declined and sunk into oblivion.
- In 1957, Le Negresco was sold to the Breton self-made millionaire Jean-Baptiste Mesnage, who bought it for his paralyzed wife (as it was the only hotel in Nice at the time with a lift for wheelchairs). His daughter Madame Jeanne Augier – an eccentric hotelier – developed a passion for the hotel, and dedicated her life to bringing the hotel back to its days of glory. Her efforts payed off and Le Negresco slowly turned from a forgotten gem into a must-visit destination for the rich and glamorous. Jeanne Augier decided that every hotel room should have mink bedspreads, and she also dedicated suites to butterflies, Napoleon and King Louis XIV. Three years after her passing, Le Negresco’s hotel staff still affectionately refers to Jeanne Augier as “Madame”.
- Le Negresco’s white stucco, neo-gothic façade is the most famous and photographed landmark of the French Riviera, not least because of its imposing pink dome, allegedly a reference to the breasts of the architect’s mistress. However, if the outside is opulent then the inside is even more so, especially in hotel’s famous rotunda, which is located just behind the reception & concierge area. Called ‘The Royal Lounge‘ and listed as a historical monument, the enormous marble-floored rotunda features a stunning glass-ceiling rotunda punctuated by an oversized Baccarat chandelier, which was originally built for the Russian Czar Nicolas II. Once a majestic ballroom, today it’s the perfect place for grandiose receptions or spectacular events.
- Le Negresco Hotel owes its strong identity partly to a large collection of artwork and period furniture, which includes over 6,000 references. Exhibited both in the hotel’s public areas and in its rooms, the art collection spans more than five centuries, from Louis XIII to the modern-day. All works of art were collected by Jeanne Augier, who decorated the hotel as if it would be her own home (which it was as she lived in an apartment on the hotel’s 6th floor). Some of the most beautiful pieces on show are Niki de Saint Phalle’s Nana Jaune in the Royal Lounge, a series of seven brightly colored rugs designed by Raymond Moretti, floor carpets made from an original work by Yvaral in 1974, and a Louis XIV’s portrait canvas by Hyacinthe Rigaud, identical to that exhibited at the Louvre or Versailles.
- Fitted-out and personalized with period furniture, each of the hotel’s 102 rooms and 26 suites has been inspired by the most remarkable periods of French art. Every room is different and has a story to tell, with some recently refurbished rooms featuring a minimalist design while others are decidedly opulent with deep colors of red, blue, and gold for carpeting, wall-coverings and drapes. During my visit, I was upgraded to a deluxe room with a small French balcony that overlooked the gardens of the Massena Palace Museum and the sea beyond. Decorated in a gothic theme, the room featured a kingsize bed with ensuite bathroom outfitted in a bright blue and white striped wallpaper. Lalique toiletries were provided.
- One of France’s most prestigious establishment, Le Negresco has a always attracted the rich & famous. Many head of states, royalties, politicians and important personalities have stayed at the hotel. This includes VIPs and celebrities like Queen Elizabeth II, Ernest Hemmingway, Michael Jackson, Brigitte Bardot, The Beatles, Prince, Winston Churchill, Madame Pompidou, Princess Grace, le Maharadjah de Patiala, the King of Nepal, Frank Sinatra, Kirk Douglas, and Salvador Dali. Elton John even featured Le Negresco in the video for his song “I’m Still Standing’. The hotel was also used as a filming location many times, with more than thirty films having been shot there (e.g. “La Cage aux folles” and “Le Héros de la famille”).
- Well known for its doormen dressed in the manner of the staff in 18th-century elite bourgeois households, complete with red-plumed postilion hats, the hotel offers two restaurants and one bar (all of them on the groundfloor facing the Promenade des Anglais:
- With its sumptuous wordwork dating back to 1751, the hotel’s one Michelin starred restaurant Le Chantecler offers an 18th-century decor which is both ethereal and sumptuous for exceptional dinners. Highlights from the menu include tartar of sea bass and oysters, lemon cream and caviar from Sologne, lamb loin fillets au Vaudouvan, artichokes and herb gnocchi
- A better-value option is La Rotonde Brasserie, which serves a breakfast buffet, lunch and dinner in either an indoor dining room (where carousel horses add a light and fun touch to the decor) or on a small outdoor terrace.
- With its authentic walnut woodwork dating back to 1913 and a magnificent 1683 tapestry, Le Negresco’s Versailles Bar is a comfy place to enjoy a drink or eat a snack. In the evening, it moves to the rhythm of jazz, pop and soul.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- Le Negresco shines with a location along the Promenade Des Anglais, a museum-like decor, spacious rooms, and a string of excellent restaurants & bars. Unfortunately, it lacks leisure and wellness facilities: there is no pool, no spa, and no private beach club, which is a bummer, especially for one of France’s most iconic hotels. Consequently, the hotel feels more like a city hotel than a beach resort, despite its seafront location. The good news is that the hotel realizes that it’s way behind its competitors in this field, and it plans a complete overhaul over the next years, with the addition of an indoor pool, a dedicated wellness center, and a beach club.
- Guests’ reactions are as varied as the hotel’s overwhelming decor: some are wowed by the unique design and many art pieces while others express disappointment and feel the decor is bizarre and dated. I had mixed feeling during my stay: I appreciated the art (and the story behind it) that was on display in the lobby and guest rooms floor, but I was not a fan of the weird gothic design of my recently refurbished room. It’s important to realize that when you stay at Le Negresco Hotel, you commit yourself to staying in a place that was designed by one single person, Jeanne Augier, who apparently had a very remarkable and eccentric design spirit.
- Rooms on the hotel’s front side have lovely sea views but be aware of the noise from the street during the night (Promenade des Anglais is busy day and night). If you have troubles sleeping, it might be better to book a room away from the seaside.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: N/A
- Rooms: 7/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: N/A
- Service: 8/10
- Value for money: 6/10
- Overall experience: good – 8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Le Negresco Hotel (and/or receive many free perks).
- 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 (15 minutes), which is served by most major airlines (click here for an updated list of airlines offering direct flights to Nice).
Below is a selection of my photos of Le Negresco Hotel. To view more hotel photos (including breakfast & dinner photos), click here.