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fifteen luxury hotels on the Cote d'Azur

fifteen luxury hotels on the Cote d'Azur

Old Nov 10, 16, 1:41 pm
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fifteen luxury hotels on the Cote d'Azur

As with my earlier thread on five luxury hotels of Provence, I encourage you to think about what kind of luxury you want. You have many choices on the Cote d'Azur, and you can experience either the classic, polished luxury of a city hotel ... or the charming and authentic (but more four-star) luxury of a village hotel housed in an ancient building. Either qualifies as luxury; guests just need to determine what kind of experience they want to have.


InterContinental Carlton Cannes

The IC Carlton is the hotel my clients book most frequently in Cannes. Built from 1911-1913 in a Belle Epoque (classic) style, the hotel has 343 rooms and suites.

The hotel has four room categories — Classic (250 sq ft with courtyard view), Superior (380 sq ft, most with city views and a few with partial Sea View), Deluxe (350 square feet with a panoramic Sea View), and a Deluxe 1BR Seaview Suite. You may have noticed that the Superior City View rooms are larger than the Deluxe Sea View. The reason behind this is quite interesting. There was a time when wealthy families preferred rooms that did not look out over the sea as these rooms (they felt) admitted too much harsh, bright light. Thus, their servants were made to stay in the smaller Sea View rooms. An interesting reminder of how preferences change over time.

Pictured here is a Superior City View room. Most rooms in the hotel have a shower in the tub, but rooms with step-in showers are available, so make this preference known at booking. 6th floor rooms have a smaller interior but feature outdoor terraces.

Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez

Hotel Martinez is an historic hotel, built in the Art Deco style, that opened in 1929. It became the headquarters of American Army after the liberation of France. The largest hotel on the Riviera at the time of its opening, it boasts 409 rooms and suites. Some beautiful architectural features have been preserved, including the ornate staircase pictured above.

The bedroom pictured is a Sea View room #409, Sea View that was renovated in 2011, one of 50 recently renovated rooms in the hotel. The room is a spacious 40 square meters in area with tall ceilings. The bathroom provides dual vanities, a step-in shower, tub, and WC. I found the room light and attractive, decorated in a contemporary style.

Among the features of the hotel are a private beach (free access for Virtuoso guests) and a year-round heated pool. Its signature restaurant, La Palme d’Or, is the only 2-star Michelin restaurant in Cannes.

Majestic Barriere

I learned something interesting about the hotel's name during my site inspection. Why, I asked, is it called the Majestic Barriere? Answer: the hotel is owned by Barriere, a hotel company that operates 17 French hotels (including Virtuoso-member Fouquet's Barriere in Paris) and one hotel in Marrakech.

Like the other two Virtuoso properties in Cannes, the hotel is across the Croisette from the sea, and it offers a private beach to its guests.

There are 349 rooms in the hotel of which 89 are suites. Note that the original part of the hotel has padded fabrics on the walls in the hallways; the newer addition has more ordinary walls. I preferred the original.

We were shown the lead-in Deluxe City View in the original building (pictured above). Walls were treated with padded fabric coverings with vertical tan stripes and maroon accent colors. The styling seemed very nice to me, contemporary and up to date.

Bathrooms have been renovated, but they were small with a single vanity, shower in the tub, and a WC with bidet.

We were then shown a Junior Suite with terrace. This was a large room with a spacious terrace with a view of the pool and the sea. The bathroom had dual vanities with lots of counter space, a tub, step-in shower, and WC.

We also saw a Prestige Suite with terrace in the modern addition. In addition to the full featured bathroom, the suite provided a large closet and a powder room


Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee

Palais de la Mediterranee was built in 2004, just 12 years ago, behind an old art deco facade that was preserved when the original building was torn down. After spending its first nine years under the management of Concorde Hotels, Hyatt took up management three and one-half years ago.

The hotel consists of 187 total rooms including 9 suites. All rooms have balconies.

The styling is similar to Hotel Martinez in Cannes (also a Hyatt hotel). The simple contemporary furnishings have touches of art deco. The room we saw used a color scheme of pastel blues, greens, and beige.

Being a new hotel, rooms are larger than usual for France. All rooms have a single vanity, bathtub, a step-in shower, and WC. Suites have dual vanities.

Standard rooms are 375 square feet. There is a Deluxe Queen-Queen, a large room about 450 square feet, that will accommodate family of four.

Pictured above is #707, a Deluxe King with partial sea view. I preferred the color palette of this room with its magenta and red accents.

In addition, we saw a Premium Suite with Partial Sea View. It provides a very large living room and a terrace with ocean view.

Hotel Negresco

Hotel Negresco is a classical French hotel built in 1913 in a traditional older building with smaller rooms. Most rooms are traditional, while the second floor features rooms with a more contemporary style. Of the 170 rooms, 36 are suites. Categories are Superior, Exclusive, Deluxe, Junior Suite, and Suite. Privately owned by a 93 year-old woman, the hotel has whimsical touches with a lot of personality.

I thought room 212 (pictured above) was attractive. Decorated in a Louis XIV style, the dark blue carpet with gold crests added a bright splash of color. The room had a nice view overlooking a garden and the sea. The bathroom had two vanities and a WC with bidet, but the shower was in the tub. You should request a room with a renovated bathroom with step-in shower if this is your preference.

We also saw 524, a Junior Suite Sea View — large with an open floor plan. (Some Junior Suites have separate living rooms and bedrooms). This suite had a modern decor and used an unusual color scheme of orange and silver. The bathroom had dual vanities, a tub, step-in shower, and WC.

The owner lives on the top floor of the hotel, and the hotel is obviously the object of her love and attention. At some point, it will undergo a renovation; I hope the restoration retains the hotel's sense of personality.


A word about Monte Carlo as a destination — come if you want to experience the glitz and glamour. The city has a world famous casino, and the downtown area has a multitude of extremely high-end shopping opportunities. The palace is in the Vieille Ville (Old City), but this part of town struck us as quite touristy. Monte Carlo is worthwhile if you're interested in the casino and/or the shopping.

Getting there can be a bit of a challenge, as there are major underground roadways in Monte Carlo, and our GPS became totally useless once it lost the satellite signal.

Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo

A grand hotel with 278 rooms, Hotel Hermitage has an impressive facade in the central area of Monte Carlo. Constructed in the early 1900's, the hotel was built in the Belle Epoque (classical French) style. Several buildings have been joined to create the hotel, and there are two lobbies — one of them, the Winter Garden lobby, featuring a beautiful glass dome designed by Gustave Eiffel.

The Hermitage shares its large oval-shaped indoor pool and expensive spa with its sister hotel, Hotel de Paris. There is direct access to the spa and pool from either hotel. Due to construction currently taking place at Hotel de Paris, direct access is not presently possible from that hotel. All guests receive free access to the Monte Carlo Beach Club and to the Casino. The hotel has a one-star Michelin restaurant.

The hotel has five wings, and I recommend requesting a room in one of the wings that has been renovated.

We were first shown #214 (pictured above), a 1BR Suite with courtyard view (which is quieter than a city view room). The room has tall ceilings and a very spacious feeling. The floor was carpeted in a two-tone grey carpet, and the wall was covered with padded silk in tones of gold, grey, and green. I found the effect to be muted, quiet, and elegant. The bathroom had dual vanities, a tub, step-in shower, tub, and WC.

We were then shown #209 (pictured above), an Exclusive Sea View with a terrace that boasted a commanding harbor view. The room had interesting wallpaper and was decorated with light purple accents, a quite attractive room.

#065, a Junior Suite with terrace, had a jacuzzi on the terrace overlooking the harbour.

Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo

Hotel de Paris is located on the Place du Casino in the very center of Monte Carlo. Built in 1884 during the Belle Epoque, the hotel has a three-star Michelin restaurant, Louis XV. The hotel is currently undergoing a rolling guest room renovation, but as this is being done one wing at a time, this work should not affect guests. There are currently just 53 rooms available from the inventory of 180 rooms.

Like its sister Hotel Hermitage, guests here enjoy free access to the Beach Club and Casino and share access to the Spa and indoor pool. Direct underground access to the Spa area is currently closed off due to the room renovations.

I was able to see only one room, an Exclusive Casino View. This is a pre-renovated room in an older style, but I liked it. It had an attractive paisley/floral wallpaper with golds and reds with a few blues and greens. (Other rooms have a blue/white color scheme). I found the room bright, colorful, attractive, with very tall ceilings and a spacious feel. The bathroom had just one vanity, but did offer a tub, step-in shower, and WC with bidet.

Hotel de Paris would be my top choice in Monte Carlo.

Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

Hotel Metropole was built 1886 but not in the Belle Epoque style. Its lobby is more casual with granite block walls and a heavier "bourgeois" style. The Lobby Bar area was a hub of activity with lots of guests congregating there. It was fun sitting by the entrance and watching fashionable guests coming and going.

The hotel has a two-star Michelin restaurant. There is an outdoor pool and relaxation area with sea water pool (heated in the winter).

We were able to see two rooms. #414 was a Deluxe Junior Suite with long and narrow dimensions. It was decorated with tan walls, gold pattered carpeting, and rust accents. The bathroom had dual vanities, a tub, step-in shower, and a WC.

#402, a Deluxe room, was on the cozy side. It felt like a classic or superior room to me.

If the informal lobby and active bar scene sounds appealing, Hotel Metropole might be a good option for you. Based just on the room product, I would prefer the two other options in Monte Carlo.


With the highest-priced real estate in the world, Cap Ferrat is an exclusive peninsula just east of Nice and west of Monte Carlo.

Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel

Cap Ferrat is popular vacation destination for the rich and famous on the Cote d’Azur, and the famous Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat is now under Four Seasons management. Signed photographs of some of the hotel's famous former guests are displayed in the main staircase — Somerset Maughan, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Roger Moore. Although you may see guests wearing flip flops, shorts, and t-shirts at breakfast, the Grand Hotel is not a casual resort in the vein of Hualalai or Punta Mita. Guests dress fashionably at dinner, wearing anything from casual chic to coat-and-tie. So let us begin this review with the understanding this hotel is more formal than the typical Four Seasons resort.

Rather than showing the classical long view of the hotel from the sea side, pictured above is the sitting area of the lobby. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, floor to ceiling windows admit a lot of natural light as well as panoramic sea views. A destination resort, basically nothing is easy walking distance, so you’ll have to drive (or ride a bicycle) to eat off property. The small village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, about a 5 minute drive, has a number of small restaurants by the little harbor (good to remember if you don't want to pay crazy prices every night for dinner). Parking in Saint Jean is free after 6 p.m., although you'll need to use Waze to get out of town, given the maze of one-way streets in town.

We spent four nights in a Superior Pinewood room located the main building. As the hotel was completely booked during our stay, Four Seasons was unable to upgrade me to anything larger or with a sea view. Our room was nevertheless comfortable and reasonably priced at 500€ per night in October. A small room about 300 square feet in area, the bedroom had a Queen bed, a work desk with power plugs and ethernet ports at desk level, bed table, minibar, wall mounted flat screen tv, and a sitting chair in the corner. There was a large dressing area with plenty of hanging space and drawers for two guests, and a large bathroom with step-in rain shower, WC, and dual vanities. There was no tub.

The resort was completely renovated after coming under Four Seasons management. The same interior designer who worked on the George V renovations created the interiors at FS Cap Ferrat. At first glance, the room was white-on-white, but looking more closely, I could discern the use of two tones of off-white in the paneled walls and ceiling with an accent stripe of light blue. This designer knows how to create visual contrast and interest, and I found the room bright and attractive.

This is a boutique resort with just 73 rooms in all — 49 rooms in the main building and 24 in the residence building.

I was shown a ground floor Pool Suite in the residence building. These have the same white-on-white interiors and can accommodate four with two rollaways in the living room. Upstairs in the residence building are Deluxe Terrace rooms, each of which has a very large outdoor terrace.

In addition, FS Cap Ferrat has a 6BR villa with its own private pool, tennis court, bocci court, screening room, gym, and sauna. Four of the bedrooms are suitable for adult guests; the two remaining rooms would be well suited for children or staff (a nanny, security personnel, or chef). Unlike the resort whose season runs from March to mid-November, the villa is available for rental year round with daily rates varying from 7,500€ - 22,000€, depending on the time of year.

The hotel provides Hermes amenities. Valet parking is available at a price, WiFi is complimentary, and the hotel has a Pool Club with a large salt water pool down by the sea. There is no beach, but there is access to the sea for swimming.

Hotel Royal Riviera

Located at the northeastern tip of Cap Ferrat, Hotel Royal Rivera is a casual-chic family-friendly resort, less formal than the Four Seasons. It's also less secluded — which is either an advantage or a disadvantage per your own preferences. It's just a short walk down the beach to the town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer and its shopping and restaurants. Pictured above is a photograph of the hotel's large family-friendly pool.

Guests are greeted in a lobby that has a living room feel. Like the Grand Hotel, this is a boutique resort with just 94 rooms (78 in the main building, 14 in the Orangerie, and 2 private villas). The main building is decorated in a palazzo (Italian palace) style while the Orangerie is in the style of a Provenal villa with lavender colors. The hotel provides free parking, free beach access, and Bulgari amenities.

General notes on guestrooms:

(1) Standard Rooms are not part of the Virtuoso program. These are too small to be comfortable for most North American luxury travelers.

(2) Floors 1-2 of the main building are contemporary while floors 3-4 have traditional styling.

We were shown a Superior room, 290 square feet in area. The bathroom had a single vanity, shower in the tub, and WC. The room had a very nice sea/garden view., although it's quite small.

We also saw a Junior Suite (pictured above). This is an example of a contemporary room. Located at the corners of the building, these rooms are spacious and boast a panoramic view. The bathroom had dual vanities, step-in shower, tub, and a WC. I would love to stay in this room!

We were also shown a Superior in the Orangerie, #12. This is a smaller room in a Provenal style with lavender walls. The bathroom had dual vanities, a step-in shower, tub, and toilet


Eze is a cute, charming village high in the hills above the Mediterranean Sea. I can't imagine where visitors park in the summer, although we had no problem finding street parking in October. Fortunately, both Virtuoso hotels (Chvre d'Or and Chateau Eza) provide their own parking lots for guests, so you'll have no trouble parking your car. Just research the location of your hotel's lot before you arrive. Once there, the valet will take your bags, and you'll have a five minute walk to your hotel.

Chateau de la Chevre d'Or

This property opened in 1953 as a restaurant and hotel. Chateau de la Chvre d'Or is a boutique hotel with thirty-two rooms and eight suites spread through the town. The hotel has 17 hectares (42 acres) of gardens and four restaurants, everything from pizza to the famous two star Chvre d'Or.

Each room is unique with its own styling. It's helpful to specify your preferences when booking this hotel — contemporary or traditional, shower or tub — and a note to travel advisors to phone reception to discuss your clients' preferences with the hotel so that they can be blocked in an appropriate room.

Note that room categories are based on two criteria, size and view. A small room with a view might have the same category as a larger without a view.

We saw the one available room, an Executive Suite. The third highest of the eight room categories, the Cocteau Suite was designed by the French artist Jean Cocteau who spent his summer holidays in Eze. The suite has a large bedroom, separate living room, and a balcony with a great view of the sea. This is the only duplex room in the hotel; guests climb stairs to a bathroom on the second level that provides dual vanities, step-in shower, a jacuzzi tub, and toilet.

Chateau Eza

We were the guests of Chateau Eza for lunch at their gastronomic before our site inspection. Although it does not have a Michelin star, don't let that fact dissuade you from eating here. Our meal was formidable and they poured an exquisite chilled ros at lunch and a yummy chocolate dessert. Even better than the food (as if that were possible) were the sea views from the terrace where we dined.

A member of Small Luxury Hotels, Chateau Eza is 30 years old and has only 14 rooms. Here is the breakdown:
2 Suites … all include hot tub, panoramic sea views
3 Jr. Suites … panoramic sea views
3 Deluxe … partial sea views and balcony
2 Superior … partial sea views and balcony
2 Standard - village view, no balcony
2 Elegance … large, renovated, village view
We saw two rooms, the first a Junior Suite once part of the Prince of Sweden’s summer residence. The living room had terra cotta floors and featured a large terrace with a great view. The carpeted bedroom had a 4 poster king bed and walk-in closet. The bathroom provided dual vanities, step-in shower, tub, and WC. All Jr. Suites have a shower and tub; when booking Standard, Superior, or Deluxe rooms, be sure to specify your preference.

We were also shown the Elegance room pictured above. Although it had a nondescript village view, the room provided a spacious bedroom with hardwood flooring and a very large new bathroom with dual vanities, step-in shower, a jacuzzi tub, and a WC.

Rooms are more localized than Chvre d’Or, all being in close proximity to the hotel's lobby.

Other hotels on the Riviera

Le Saint Paul

Saint Paul de Vence is a cute little town, the home of Marc Chagall for many years of his life, with a lot of interesting art and a very worthwhile contemporary chapel. Though it's crowded with tourists during the day (lots of tourists from the cruise ships following their guide's little flag down the main pedestrian street), the village empties out at night. Definitely consider a stay here during the shoulder season to avoid most of the crowds.

We spent our final three nights at Le Saint Paul, a Relais & Chateau hotel in the heart of historical Saint Paul du Vence. A word about parking. Use your GPS to get you to the place du Jeu de Boules outside the walls of the town. From there, use your cell phone to call the hotel. A member of the bell staff can come down and drive you through the extremely narrow streets to the hotel ... and then park your car. We called for him every time we came into town and tipped him 5€ each time. Highly recommended procedure!

Our room, #16 - a Village View Junior Suite - is pictured above. This was an extremely spacious room with an open living room. Our bathroom had dual vanities, a tub, step-in shower, and toilet.

Advice 1: There is much variety in the rooms. Our Jr. Suite was on the first floor (directly above the hotel's entrance). It was spacious with four windows in the living space and a fifth in the bathroom. But being on a low floor and facing the street, it was dark and noisy during the day (but quiet at night). So we stuck our heads into the Junior Suite directly across the hall while it was being cleaned. Though it faced the valley (meaning better light and great views), it had only one window found in the living room, so it was also dark.

So ... request the highest floor possible and a room with multiple windows. Also, specify your preferences for the bathroom and whether you want a valley view.

Advice 2: the Classic room (we saw #15) is too small for luxury guests, just 15 sqm.

We were able to see two Suites. Pictured above is the bedroom of a full Suite with terrace. This suite has lots of space and would be good for families (the sofabed in the living room can accommodate two kids comfortably).

Suite #30 had better views than the suite described above. Its terrace is large enough to eat breakfast or enjoy a romantic dinner for two, but the bathroom had only one vanity, and its shower was in the tub.

Chateau Saint Martin

Chateau Saint Martin was built on the site of a 12th century chateau on the outskirts of Vence. It was purchased by a private individual in 1950 to create a vacation home, then turned into a nine room hotel. Oetker Collection subsequently bought the property and expanded it into a 40 room hotel with six hillside villas. I noticed the family resemblance with Le Bristol in Paris, also an Oetker hotel.

Like Le Bristol, each room in this hotel is uniquely decorated by the owner's wife. She selected different fabrics for each room, coordinating the draperies, bedspreads, carpeting, and wall colors. The result is 40 different room designs.

Pictured above is room #2, a Deluxe Junior Suite with a large terrace. Notice that there are no throw pillows on the bed, just like the room decor at Le Bristol. I would describe the decor as "practical aristocrat." Because her husband dislikes having to move throw pillows from the bed if he wants to take an afternoon nap, none of the rooms at Le Bristol or Saint Martin have these decorative accents. Personally, I'd go for more frilly ... but the room is large and comfortable. The pink marble bathroom has dual vanities, a tub, step-in shower, and a WC with bidet.

A new extension to the hotel, built 14 years ago, contains the spa, gym, and 9 of the 40 rooms.

Chateau Saint Martin has a very nice, large pool, 2 tennis courts, and free parking.

Of the six hillside villas, five have kitchens.

Le Mas de Pierre

Le Mas de Pierre is a 54 room, privately owned resort built in 2005 in a Provenal style. It's located a few minutes south of Saint Paul de Vence. If the idea of parking in Saint Paul de Vence seems too daunting, this hotel is very each to reach. Guests can utilize the free shuttle service to Saint Paul that runs four times per day. There's also a free Kids Club provided in the summer months from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

The resort has a lovely setting in a 3 hectare garden (about 7 acres). The atmosphere is relaxed — no coasts and ties — and the heated pool is nice and warm. We had lunch at La Table de Pierre, a Relais & Chateau restaurant. The food was very good and stressed fresh and local ingredients.

Ground floor guestrooms have terraces but are small. Classic rooms are 20 square meters in size and Privilege rooms are 30 square meters. All guest rooms are being renovated this summer and will feature a more contemporary style with soft colors.

Suites and Junior Suites are in a separate complex that has its own pool. Suites also get Butler service. The Suite we were shown had a bedroom (pictured above) and a small separate living room.

Advice: If you book one of these suites, request a ground floor suite. (Second floor suites have first floor entrances with steps to climb to get to the second floor).

There is also a private 3BR Villa on property with its own kitchen, private pool, and laundry facilities. The villa has a private entrance from the street.

While I would not call Le Mas de Pierre a WOW property, it has great food, is well priced, and definitely worth considering if you want to visit Saint Paul de Vence but don't want to deal with the busyness of the village or its parking hassles.

Last edited by DavidO; Nov 11, 16 at 7:49 am
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Old Nov 10, 16, 2:08 pm
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A superb report, DavidO. Thanks for sharing your information with FT
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Old Nov 10, 16, 3:46 pm
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One word: Amazing! Thanks DavidO, very well received and highly appreciated.

Cheers & Safe Travels. ^
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Old Nov 10, 16, 4:25 pm
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Fun to read, Thankee.
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Old Nov 10, 16, 10:53 pm
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Great List.

Must add: Hotel du Cap Eden Roc. One of the most beautiful properties you can find anywhere in the world.
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Old Nov 11, 16, 1:34 am
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Great as always - thank you!
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Old Nov 11, 16, 3:44 am
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Thanks, always good to know the options!
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Old Nov 11, 16, 6:17 am
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I have to second both FS Cap Ferrat and Chateau Saint Martin. We love both properties for totally different reasons!
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Old Nov 11, 16, 8:47 am
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Thanks David0 - this was a trip down memory lane for me!

In fact, regarding Cap Ferrat, the Pierre Yves Rochon refurbishment was done a few years prior to Four Seasons taking over management. Four Seasons brought their training standards with them, but will be doing more work to the villas in the grounds over the next couple of years.

I also think it useful to point our that in the annexe of Cap Ferrat - the Residence - there are some stunning pool suites and a beautiful Spa - all Pierre Yves Rochon designed.

Le Saint-Paul, when it was privately owned, was a star in this region, but Baglioni bought it and I felt that the quality of the service and food really declined. I much prefer Le Mas de Pierre these days.

The Majestic in Cannes was the best hotel on the croisette before Barrire took it over - great food, not bad service and beautiful rooms and suites. Barrire refurbished it originally to look like the boudoir of a 'lady of the night', although they have toned it down a little since then.

I think if you stayed in Monaco, you would revise your opinion of the 3 hotels you mention. Htel Metrople has a much more relaxed vibe than the other two, yet the service is excellent, as is the food. It looks as though they showed you a broom cupboard. The Junior Suites are very comfortable indeed, as are the full suites.

La Chvre d'Or is a great place to dine, or have lunch on its panoramic terrace, but the beds are like rocks and the room/suite design is in very dubious taste. Chteau Eza, I agree, has a great restaurant, but I find the rooms/suites a bit claustrophobic - it's the sort of place to spend a night at - no more.

Royal Riviera is not really an upscale resort - more of a 4-star - and that is reflected by the level of service, the food and the relative comfort of the rooms and suites.

Thanks again for a very enjoyable read!
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Old Nov 11, 16, 10:52 am
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That glass table would have to be moved.
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