HOTEL REVIEW: Le Negresco, Nice

Welcome to Nice!

Instead of having crowded streets and concrete jungles, Nice, France is almost the opposite of what you’d call a city. The light and vibrant-colored city thrives beside the blue Côte d’Azur, refreshed by the air of the Mediterranean sea every day.

At the heart of Nice is the pedestrians-only Place Rossetti, decorated with a grand fountain, beautiful buildings, and the Sainte-Réparate cathedral.

Aside from its natural and homey landmarks, Nice has something else that’s unique. It stands like a palace that has braved history. It’s none other than the luxury hotel Le Negresco.

History

It was a Christmas night in 1905. A man named Henri Negresco dreamt of a place for Rockefeller and Queen Amelia of Portugal to stay in when they were guests at Nice’s municipal casino.

Negresco placed his stakes on Nice, somewhere a luxury resort can stand so elites can experience luxury and refinement.

Soon enough, the Negresco opened in January 1913, with seven royalties in attendance. However, when the war came, the damages of conflict caused deterioration for the hotel’s clientele.

The hotel got passed around different owners until a wealthy couple – Jeanne Mesnage and Paul Augier – transformed it to its former glory. The artworks became a key part of the “living museum” and helped bring it to modern times.

Le Negresco is a name that’s been around since the past times. When you see it now, it will take you back to a time only found in books.

Architect Edouard Niermans’ design of the hotel has stuck until now, even after extensive renovation in 2010, to the point that it has been given the status of a 19th-Century Heritage.

Its two landmarks, The Belle Epoque façade and the famous Salon Royal are now both national heritages.

In 2003, the Hotel Negresco was listed by the government of France as a National Historic Building and is a member of Leading Hotels of the World.

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Location

Now, how do we get to this renown place that has so much history?

The Negresco is five kilometres from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport. Halfway along the Promenade des Anglais, facing the sea, the hotel is just a stone’s throw away from Nice’s shopping district.

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Jeanne Augier

You remember Jeanne Augier from earlier? She’s the stylish, art-loving CEO of Negresco.
She’s still in charge of the maintaining the hotel’s 180 staff and its grand artistic heritage, which is often filled by her rare souvenirs from her artistic adventures.

Augier is the last person to own an independent Belle Epoque grand hotel. She was knighted as a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite in 1979.

Pierre Bord

Right beside her is Pierre Bord, Le Negresco’s General Manager and one of its precious talents. He has been a general manager at hotels such as the Richemond, Geneva and Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo. When he was asked to manage Le Negresco, Bord jumped at the chance. Now he helps preserve the hotel’s art collection with his own style of leadership, faithful to your roots yet adaptable and open.

Artworks

Now, the highlight of the hotel, the artworks. True to its “living museum” name, the Negresco has major collections of over 6,000 artworks of different forms displayed all over the hotel’s public areas and rooms.

Salon Versailles has two prominent artworks on display. First is the Sun King, one of the three official portraits of King Louis XIV that has been in the salon since 1991. Its two counterparts are in the Louvre and in Versailles. The second artwork is a coffered ceiling that will make you look up in awe.

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Salon Royal also has two masterpieces. The large Baccarat chandelier makes the room glow with elegance and history. Alongside this is the Nana Jaune Niki de Sainte Phalle Sculpture, which made its way from the first Les Champs de la Sculpture in 1996 to the salon in 1998.

Le Negresco is also proud of its 18th century royal portaits, all from the collection of French archbishop Monseigneur de Beaumont du Repaire.

Guestrooms and Suites

The art spirit of the hotel does not stop at its collections. The Negresco has 99 rooms and 25 suites in total. Every one of those is an immersion into the art and history of France.

Empress Josephine’s room at Château de Malmaison inspired the Imperial Suite. Among those who've slept at the suite were Paul McCartney, Elisabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra, Yves Montand, and Mickey Rourke.

King Louis XV’s chest of drawers made of precious wood and a double walnut-wood corbeille bed is the charming point of the Pompadour Suite.

A touch of royalty, with a Louis XV writing desk and Louis XVI bed with gold-plated bronzes, is the highlight of the Montserrat Suite.

Guestrooms, meanwhile, are not just guestrooms. These house the largest collection of period furniture among French hotels.

Majority of the rooms have a view of the sea or the Musée Massena gardens with the sea in the background.

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Restaurants

As you enjoy the luxury of the guestrooms, you must also dine well at Le Negresco’s restaurants: Le Chantecler, La Rotonde, and Le Bar.

Award-winning Chef Jean-Denis Rieubland leads the two restaurants, Le Chantecler and La Rotonde, which offers savory meals in different styles.

The 2- Michelin Star Le Chantecler honors the produce of the Côte d’Azur’s hinterland, with a small family enterprise in Berre les Alpes as his main supplier. Fresh salads go well with savory meat and unique vegetables. On top of that, the high quality service makes dining even more enjoyable.

La Rotonde is a playful place that is a crowd favorite. Upon going there, you will be treated to a homely aesthetic amplified by playhorses. It is the hotel’s brasserie which features typical brasserie dishes and summer barbecues.

Last but not the least is Le Negresco’s official bar, simply called Le Bar, a go-to place for celebrities and townspeople. The venue is made of period woodwork with a sophisticated ambience right by the French Riviera.

Le Bar offers music nights ranging from vinyl parties to live concerts. All of these can be enjoyed with adventurous, experimental cocktails prepared by Head Barman Lofti. You heard that right!

Talents

Aside from the chefs, Le Negresco is proud of its group of talents that excel in various aspects of hospitality.

We’ve mentioned the General Manager, Pierre Bord, as one of the top talents in the hotel.

The hotel has two prestigious cabinet-makers. One has graduated from fine arts and crafts school Ecoule Boulle.

Their two upholsterers, from artisan group Compagnons du Devoir, maintain the quality of the art collection for a whole year.

Three of the Negresco’s staff were awarded the prestigious Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Craftmanship Award, “MOF”: Jean Denis Rieubland, MOF 2007; Virginie Lafon, MOF 2011; and Pernille Douvrain, MOF 2015. 

Awards

As a result of its staff’s work, the hotel was certified as a member of France’s Living Heritage Companies in November 2015. These companies are officially recognized for preserving French national traditions. Le Negresco stands next to luxury brands like Chanel and Christian Dior.

Moreover, the hotel has also been recognized for its modern-day practices. It has been a certified Eco-Label by the European Union, because it has been scientifically proven to reduce environmental impact.

Prominence

A visit to Le Negresco is a chance to experience actual star treatment, as its guest list is filled to the brim with big stars from around the world.

The hotel has been visited by big names in the big screen like Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, James Dean, Walt Disney.

It also served as a sleeping and partying place for music icons like The Beatles, Celine Dion, Barbara Hendricks, Michael Jackson, and David Bowie, to name a few.

Other figures from the arts, such as Armand Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Picasso, from high fashion, like Pierre Cardin, Isabel Marant, and Claudia Schiffer, have also stayed inside Le Negresco's vibrant halls.

Not to forget its inspiration, Le Negresco has also served heads of state and royalty such as Nicolas Sarkozy, Winston Churchill, Zhu Rongji, Queen Elizabeth II, King Ibn Saoud of Saudi Arabia, and Sheikh Zayed.

As a result of its popularity, the hotel has been the go-to for venues and popular films.

The hotel has been a place for high society weddings and parties that has catered 10 to 600 people. It opens its Salon Royal and its red and gold Salon Massena that has 200 person capacity.

It also has nine function rooms exposed to natural daylight and Baie des Anges meeting rooms with an uninterrupted sea view. Really, what more could you ask for.

Not only does the hotel preserve art, it also helps in the creation of it. The Negresco has been the beautiful location for a lot of popular French and Hollywood films from 1949 to the present day. Some of the films include:

  • Tous les chemins mènent à Rome (1949)
  • Monsieur Ripois (1954), with Gérard Philippe
  • Les seins de glace (1974), with Alain Delon, Claude Brasseur, Mireille Darc
  • Le hasard et la violence (1974)
  • Folle à tuer (1975), with Jeanne Moreau
  • Je suis timide, mais je me soigne (1978) with Pierre Richard, Aldo Maccione
  • La cage aux folles I & II (1978 and 1980) with Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Serrault
  • Magic in the Moonlight, Woody Allen (2014), with Colin Firth, Emma Stone
  • Transporter (2015) from Camille Delamarre: with Ed Skrein
  • Un Sac de Billes from Christian Duguay (2017) with Patrick Bruel & Elsa Zylberstein
  • Dalida (2017) from Lisa Azuelos with Sveva Alviti

Your special occasion or film could be here next!

Things to do

Nice is a lively, humble city that has activities for people from all walks of life. We have a list of things you can do in Nice that you can turn into a bucket list once you visit the place!

1. Jog, sit, cycle or run along the famous Promenade des Anglais. The place has been a site for world-renown biking marathons and leisurely hangouts with loved ones. 

2. Enjoy a performance at Opéra Nice Côte d'Azur. The place is a prime venue for artistic operas, ballets, and classical concerts that’s been around since 1776.

3. Wander through the streets of Vielle Vielle (Old Town) and admire its distinct Italian architecture and setting. As we all know, Nice was part of Italy before the Treaty of Turin in 1860.

4. Climb the wild Parc de la Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill), complete with a rocky and wet vibe, and be mesmerized by the French Riviera panoramic view.

5. Attend a mass and take in jaw-dropping interior of Nice Cathedral. Nice Cathedral has been considered as a national monument since 1906 and was declared a minor basilica on 1949.

6. Eat fresh delicious seafood dishes, shop for souvenirs or buy fresh produce and flowers at Cours Saleya Market.

7. Explore Nice via electric tricycle, #HappyMoov.

8. Sunbathe, swim, or enjoy a meal right next to the sea at Le Negresco’s private beach, Le Neptune.

9. Enjoy water sports in Baie des Anges, a beautiful pebble beach of the Mediterranean Sea.

10. Visit the elegant Musee Massena, located beside Le Negresco.

11. Indulge in a retail therapy in the chic Avenue Jean Medecin.

12. Discover the 19th century Place Massena, the most impressive square in the historical district of Nice.

13. Dine at Le Negresco’s La Rotonde.

14. Take a Trans Côte d’Azur cruise and enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea and the shoreline of the French Riviera.

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15. Don’t just stay in one place. Since Saint Tropez, Monte Carlo, and the city of Paris are just nearby, you might as well make a side trip and complete the French experience.

Conclusion

Le Negresco is a place that will surely exceed your expectations. It does not only serve as a hotel, it also serves as a French landmark, a piece of history that shares to French people and foreigners a piece of their identity.

On top of that, its top-notch hotel services will enrich the experience and makes guests feel like they’re royalty. A stay in Le Negresco will surely be memorable and even life-changing and we can attest to that after staying there for 4 days and 3 nights!