The top 10 hotels to head for in Europe’s most glamorous summer holiday destination
Prepare for sun, sea and striped umbrellas – the Côte d’Azur is a glitterati haven of old school glamour which has somehow retained its je ne sais quoi status year on year. From enchanting Èze to sparkling Saint-Tropez, spend your days flitting between super yachts and chi-chi beach clubs, where plateaux des fruits de mer washed down with ice-cold rosé is the diet du jour. Amidst the bohemian, barefoot hedonism, there is a more rustic charm to be found in the surrounding string of quaint coastal villages. Wherever you choose to stay on the French Riviera, you’ll be following in the footsteps of a star-studded list of visitors, from Coco Chanel to Brigitte Bardot. Here we pick 10 of the hottest hotels to make your boutique base on the Côte d’Azur, from Art Deco mansions to pastel-hued villas and storybook châteaux.
Images via @french__toasts
1. Hôtel Lou Pinet, Saint-Tropez
Designed to feel like a beautiful holiday home you would share with friends, Hôtel Lou Pinet has a wonderfully vintage vibe thanks to its sixties-inspired interiors by architect of Mediterranean chic, Charles Zana. Rooms and suites are filled with light and colourful graphic prints handpicked by the art collecting owners, many of which open directly onto the swimming pool lined with cherry red umbrellas and surrounded by private gardens scented with lavender, jasmine and cypress. Far from the crowds in town, but close to Bardot-approved beaches, return to the hotel after stretching out on the Plage de Pampelonne for a spritzer under the stars.
2. Hotel Belles Rives, Cap d’Antibes
The former home of Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, the bold Art Deco styling and blue striped awnings of Hotel Belles Rives have a nostalgic ring reflecting the riotous glamour of the Roaring Twenties. Today, time spent on the private beach and balmy evenings dining on Michelin-starred dishes by the water’s edge recreates the chic elegance of those bygone days at a more relaxed pace. For the ultimate indulgence, request a massage in one of the beachfront cabanas, or a beauty treatment by Swiss skincare revolutionary Valmont. Splash out on a sea view suite and enjoy the same sparkling blue vistas which inspired one of history’s literary greats.
3. Hôtel la Pérouse, Nice
Set on the cliffs on the corniche and overlooking the Baie des Anges, Hôtel la Pérouse commands outstanding views of both city and sea. Spend sunny mornings taking breakfast on the sun-soaked rooftop terrace or the balcony of your tastefully decorated room, then relax by the pool before wandering around the maze of cobbled streets in Nice’s picturesque Old Town. Return to this perfectly placed hotel for lunch in the outdoor Restaurant Le Patio, where you can sit under the shade of the lemon trees accompanied by a gentle sea breeze and enjoy exquisite Mediterranean cuisine.
4. MUSE Saint-Tropez, Saint-Tropez
With its creamy, cooling interiors and fragrant Mediterranean gardens, MUSE Saint-Tropez effortlessly captures the essence of Côte d’Azur glamour. Sit back on the sunny terrace of the MUSE Suite with a private pool overlooking the sea, or take a dip in the Prestige Suite plunge pool with a glass of local rosé in hand (straight from the suite’s own wine cellar). To make the most of the gardens, opt for the Romy Suite – with its own patch of pine tree-lined paradise, this plunge pool enjoys the sunshine with just the right amount of shade. Every little detail has been thought of here, from the beach bag in your suite, kitted out with sunglasses and towels, to the MUSE bicycles guests can hop on for a ride through quintessentially French scenery.
5. Hôtel Juana, Juan-les-Pins
An Art Deco mansion in the stylish seaside setting of Juan-les-Pins, Hôtel Juana epitomises 1930s elegance. Every room here has a refined Riviera feel, while the Deluxe Rooms and Suites benefit from alluring views of the Lérin Islands and Esterel. From gliding across the bay in the birthplace of water-skiing, to private guided tours of the nearby Picasso Museum, there is plenty to keep every type of traveller entertained. Or, you could simply laze the day away on the legendary Plage Belles Rives where homemade pastries and fresh fruit are delivered directly to your deckchair.
6. UP – Ultimate Provence Hôtel, La Garde-Freinet
Just 30 minutes from the Gulf of Saint-Tropez and Sainte-Maxime, next to the little village of La Garde-Freinet, UP – Ultimate Provence Hôtel is a contemporary retreat nestled within 46 hectares of immaculate organic vineyards. Come to luxuriate by the swimming pool against a backdrop of olive trees. Stay, lured by the comforts of beautifully designed bedrooms and delicious dining. And don’t leave without trying a sip (or a bottle) of its award-winning rosé wine.
7. Le Mas Candille, Mougins
Set among pine and olive trees, Le Mas Candille is part traditional Provence country retreat, part contemporary luxury hotel. Alongside the 18th century farmhouse, there are modern villas, while the medieval village of Mougins is only five minutes’ walk from the hotel’s gates. And among the lavender-lined walkways of the garden you’ll find striking sculptures, tranquil swimming pools, and the setting for alfresco Michelin-starred dining. Sink into luxurious French linen and laze on private balconies that frame epic sunsets, before devoting an hour or two to Spa Candille with its zen atmosphere and luxury ESPA treatments.
8. Château Eza, Èze
Step through the 400-year-old castle doors of Château Eza and straight into the pages of a fairytale. Perched high among the ancient cliff tops of Èze, the views from this historic hideaway are truly second to none. Affectionately known until the seventies as ‘The Prince of Sweden’s Castle’, the antique-filled interiors with four-poster beds and period fireplaces nod to the property’s aristocratic heritage, while the glass-edged restaurant opening onto a panoramic terrace gives guests a taste of the modern day Mediterranean. End the day with an alfresco nightcap, where lights from hill-hugging villages and luxury yachts make the shoreline sparkle.
9. Althoff Villa Belrose, Gassin
At first sight this elegant retreat looks like a Florentine villa. It’s circled by pine trees and landscaped gardens, with the beautiful bay of Saint-Tropez just below. Take it all in from the pool terrace or the outdoor bar, with a signature Althoff Villa Belrose glass of rosé for company, before sinking into one of the sumptuously styled suites. Larger groups can make Résidence Belrose, a four-bedroom villa tucked up in the hills of Gassin, their private holiday home, with two spacious terraces, swimming pool and in-house boules court. Be sure to download the hotel’s bespoke concierge app before arrival, which means every detail can be arranged for you, from flowers waiting in your room to sailing trips on luxury yachts.
10. Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel & Spa, Theoule-sur-Mer
With the magnificent backdrop of the Esterel Hills and sitting on the red rocks above the Mediterranean Sea, Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel & Spa has breathtaking sea views through its large panoramic windows – not to mention a fabulous outdoor pool and private beach area. Guests in search of an extra level of exclusivity should opt for Villa Azur, a three-bedroom private residence just a stone’s throw from Cannes, hidden by umbrella pines with three spectacular sea-facing terraces. From boat, kayak, and canoe rentals, to cycling tours and yoga sessions, Tiara Miramar has you covered on both land and sea.