For this year’s luxury edition, we are going to share some luxurious hotel landmarks, located along the coast of the French Riviera from Monaco, Nice, Antibes, all the way to Paris. Oui! Each of these luxury abodes has an amazing history and great design that makes them unique.
Having centuries’ worth of culture and heritage, the French are known for their penchant for beautiful elements and meticulous way of work. Their stunning landmarks are known around the world, from the world heritage site such as The Palace of Versailles from the era of King Louis XIV (with the iconic landscape design by Andre Le Notre), to the contemporary version of the Egyptian pyramid in front of the Louvre museum that was designed by I.M. Pei. France is definitely the place where you will find an incredible variety of designs, particularly in the world of luxury.
Let the journey begin…
Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo:
The Icon of Sophistication
The charm of Monaco has been known for centuries. The House of Grimaldi still rules the country until today. However, the popularity of Monaco as a playground for the rich and elite in Europe started in the 19th century, when the principality stopped collecting tax from the residents and solely counted on the extraordinary success of the casino. The popularity spread worldwide in the 20th century, when the famous American actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III on 19 April 1956, which was broadcasted around the world. Ever since then, Monaco as the country and Monte-Carlo as the city are known as the ultimate luxurious playground that hosts some of the world’s most renowned events such as the Grand Prix of Formula One and Cannes Film Festival.
As one of the landmarks in the heart of Monaco, Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo was first built in 1864 by architect Gobineau de la Bretonnerie on the arid Plateau des Spelugues when the city was barely taking shape with support from Prince Charles III and Monte-Carlo Societe des Bains de Mer et du Cercles des Estrangers. Juxtaposing the two other landmarks in the city: Monte-Carlo Opera House and Le Grand Casino de Monte-Carlo were originally done in a Belle Epoque spirit. Along the journey of time, the hotel has gone through several beautification processes, to add a touch of modernity and contemporary feel into the design.
A duo of architects, Richard Martinet and Gabriel Viora, did fantastic work in turning this vision into a reality by putting a new elegant twist into the lobby. Next to it is the new open-air inner courtyard called Le Patio, as well as a rooftop wellness area with stunning indoor and outdoor spaces, a terrace, swimming pool and a bar.
The rooms were also reinvented into a modern classical design using high-end quality Tussar silk for mattresses, chandeliers and lamps made of Murano glass, white Calcatta marble and leather from luxury Italian brand, Elite. They implemented contemporary elements with modern decorations and soft shades into the new rooms, while some rooms kept a classical décor in the style of Louis XVI-style pieces. In the recent renovation, they added exceptional suites that are known as the Princess Grace Suite and the Prince Rainier III Suite. The two-story Princess Grace Suite is inspired by the timeless elegance and delicate refinement of Princess Grace of Monaco, featuring a wide outdoor space overlooking the fascinating vista, a heated infinity pool and a rare granite Jacuzzi.
The hotel created Prince Rainier III to be their largest suite, offering 525 sqm of space featuring its own sauna, private bar and infinity pool with a wave system. Another suite in this hotel worth mentioning is the Monte-Carlo Suite that is exclusively dedicated to the biggest casino customers, offering an ultra-exclusive gaming experience.
All three restaurants in the hotel are Michelin Starred and boasts exquisite contemporary design: Le Louis XV and Omer (both by Alain Ducasse) and Le Grill. Last but not least, the hotel has a unique cellar that was built in 1874 with over 350,000 bottles stored, making it one of the most respected cellars in the world; and it is a famous luxury playground in Monaco.
Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee:
The Legendary Icon
The hotel first opened its doors on 10 January 1929 as the legendary historic landmark in Nice known as Palais de la Mediterranee. The city became popular in the 1930s after they opened the majestic promenade called Chemin des Anglais after 22 years of work. This promenade made way for luxury hotels, casinos and residential buildings, which helped the tourism boom.
The Mayor proposed the idea of a “Pleasure Palace”, which caught the attention of railway magnate and financier Franck Jay Gould, who made this project happen. He appointed local architects Charles and Marcel Dalmas to mastermind a spectacular Art Deco palace. Both architects created a hotel with a grand theatre that headlined the biggest stars for 50 years, and a casino that is considered as one of the most beautiful the world has ever seen.
However, after the war, this marvellous palace slowly lost its fame until financial issues forced it to close its doors on April 1978. This once magnificent palace remained closed for 26 years and slowly deteriorated, forcing the city to make the decision to demolish it. However, right at the very last minute, the Minister of Culture at the time, Jack Lang, decided to save the palace and its superb façade. It was listed as a historic monument in 1989, keeping this architectural jewel as a part of Nice.
The saved façade was inspired by the Paris Opera Garnier façade. Charles and Marcel Dalmas made the frontage ornate with sculptures of female figures and sea horses by the artist Antoine Sartorio. They used reinforced concrete to make elevations and spans never achieved before. It was not before 2001 that Societie Hoteliere du de la Mediterranee and the Society du Louvre invested 120 million Euros to rebuild the 187-room luxury hotel. The adjoining casino, built by the Partouche group, and a 1000-seat concert hall were added. The palace once again opened its doors in 2004, this time run by the Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and it is now known as Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee.
This new palace pays homage to the hotel’s original Art Deco style that is combined with the contemporary elegance, which has become the current hotel’s signature look. The spacious rooms are equipped with state-of-art modern technology and comfort. A trio designer of Marc Hertrich, Nicholas Adnett and Jaime Beriestain created a homey ambience and a warm atmosphere, using a beige colour scheme combining the wood elements, textiles and sleek lines typical of the Art Deco and French Riviera. The iconic red colour of Hyatt appears as a great accent in contrast to the rest of the décor. The furniture was specially designed for the hotel and adds a discreet contemporary touch. As the hotel has a U-shape facing the Mediterranean Sea, most of its rooms have balconies or terraces offering a view of the sea or the city of Nice with Mont Alban as the backdrop.
Cap d’ Antibes, France
Hotel Belles Rives:
The Icon of Sweet Decadence
Staying at Hotel Belles Rives is really an experience of admiring the beautiful 1930s era of Art Deco, Jazz and a decadent way of life. The hotel is located in a small town called Juan-les-Pins, just a few miles away from Cap d’ Antibes and on the romantic stretch beaches along the stunning French Riviera coast. this hotel was first known as a private seaside villa called Villa Saint-Louis and was designed by Niçois architect Charles Dalmas, who is also known for his works of the Carlton in Cannes and Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice. Following the style of the late 1920s and early ‘30s, this villa was done in an Art Deco style.
In 1925, the charm of Villa Saint-Louis caught the attention of famous American author F. Scott Fitzgerald (who is known for his literary masterpieces such as “Tender is The Night” and “The Great Gatsby”) and his wife Zelda who was in the city after the First World War. They immediately fell in love with this little city and decided to reside in the villa. It is known that he wrote “Tender is The Night” while residing here and included this villa into his masterpiece. His time spent on French Riviera region provided him with the inspiration to write “The Great Gatsby” several years later, in which one imagines the extravagant couple throwing many parties on the terrace by the sea with celebrities such as Rudolph Valentino, Hemingway, Franck Jay Gould, Maurice Chevalier and Pablo Picasso, with a green light shining on the horizon.
A life lived at night with Champagne, extravagance and sweet decadence… The Fitzgeralds made Juan les Pins the place to be. In 1929, Russian Boma Estene and his wife Simone who came from a famous dynasty of hoteliers bought Villa Saint-Louis and transformed it into a hotel project. Thus, The Belles Rives was born as the first seaside hotel on the Riviera. They appointed Cannes architect César Cavallin to add a wing and two floors to the establishment which then had 44 rooms. It was Victor Gillino, Niçois furniture designer at the Palm Beach and Cannes Casino, who applied his talent to create the interior design of the rooms in the new establishment, using a blend of precious wood and innovative forms. After the Second World War, architect Maurice Guilgot modernised the Belles Rives with private beach. The current owner Marianne Estène-Chauvin (third generation of the Estène family) acquired the hotel in 2001, making The Belles Rives as a family business until today.
Every inch of the hotel sings a hymn to 1930s style. Its soothing atmosphere shines through a long study of archives, a vow to preserve its authentic elegance, a choice of only the finest architects and designers who work only with the most precious fabrics, stones and paintings. The lobby was restored to its past grandeur under the direction of interior designer Olivier Antoine. He recovered its historic colours, enhanced by thin linings of gold and silver. Three bronze ceiling lamps came to illuminate these details, juxtaposing the Venetian Terrazzo with the wave-like mosaic motif bordering the room and framed by large marble tiles.
All 43 rooms and suites have individual designs and personalities with balconies opening onto the Mediterranean or Cap d’Antibes. Each room is designed with a warm decoration by an alliance of straight graphics featuring Ruhlmann style, while the 1950s whims the Madeleine Castaing way and rich Pierre Frey fabrics. The bathroom is also beautifully adorned by Carrara marble that is designed under the theme of the ‘thigh of the emotive muse’.
Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris:
The Icon of Luxury
First opened in 1928, Hotel George V has been known as one of Paris’ most luxurious icons. World-famous celebrities, movie stars and renowned businessmen such as The Beatles, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Gene Kelly, Vivien Leigh, Liza Minelli, Sophia Loren, The Rolling Stones and Sylvester Stallone amongst others, are known to make this hotel as their favourite while in Paris. Even the legendary Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor stayed in the Penthouse Suite of the hotel with her second husband Conrad Hilton.
French architects Lefranc and Wybo, under the direction of American owner and architect Joel Hilman, designed the original George V in the 1920s. The hotel immediately set a high standard amongst the hospitality industry and its luxury shareholders. The hotel originally had nine floors with an exterior done in the style of the 1930s on the site of former stone quarries. These quarries gave shape to the hotel’s wine cellar where one enormous stone slab forms the ceiling, and a stone wall provided solid anchors for the deeply riveted wine racks. The George V was initially designed to be a temporary residence for visitors of Paris and not a traditional hotel. The hotel was therefore designed to be used for a residential purpose and was intended to bring comfort, prestige and elegance to a sophisticated clientele.
Located just off the Champs-Elysées, the hotel was designed around an interior courtyard fronting on Avenue George V, where the structure was kept to a single story; eight stories were created on the other three sides. At that period, even in the most luxurious hotel in Paris, having a bathroom in your own bedroom was uncommon. In 1996, the hotel was bought by a Saudi businessman Al-Waleed bin Talal and he spent US$120 million renovating the hotel. It was re-opened in December 1999 and is managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Since then, the new era of George V started and was voted as “Best Hotel in the World” by a number of publications.
The current George V is a collaboration of great taste in design, art, culinary and service excellence. The experience starts in the lobby that is adorned by a flower that changes its colour every month, an impressive creation of the famous artistic director and world-renowned florist Jeff Leatham.
The hotel is also known for its beautiful suites (ranging from 190 sqm to 250 sqm) designed in the style of a private Parisian apartment. The glamorous collection of rooms and suites are constantly growing with contemporary art and craftsmanship. The entirely redesigned spaces are flooded with natural light to illuminate the modern and classical materials.
The world-acclaimed Pierre Yves Rochon has selected renowned craftsmen to create customised furniture and refurbish historical pieces anew: Pierre Frey, Manuel Casanova, Veraseta for the fabrics and silk products, Taillardat for the “style” of furniture, also Midavaine for the lacquers, Tisserant, Yann Jallu, and more. The dining rooms of certain suites can welcome up to eight guests, providing an intimate atmosphere. The mini-bars have become personal wine cellars filled with the most prestigious bottles of wine and champagne. The vast dressing room was designed with the best fashion “haute couture” brands in mind. In the grand bathroom, rare marble, Baccarat crystal fittings, rain shower, steam bath and fountains of ice come together to offer a full wellness experience. The Penthouse Suite boasts the most breathtaking view of Paris with the Eiffel Tower becoming a beacon in the background.
The Timeless Icon
When it was finally opened to the public in the evening of 28 December 1910, Hotel Lutetia quickly became a favourite amongst Parisian society. Over the years, the hotel has witnessed many world-famous celebrities such as Josephine Barker, Jean Cocteau, Pierre Assouline, Catherine Deneuve and Brad Pitt. Famous fashion designer Sonia Rykiel redesigned the hotel in the 1970s. When the hotel shut its doors in 2014 it contained no less than two hundred and eighty listed artworks.
The story of Hotel Lutetia started when the descendants of the Boucicaut family, who founded Paris’ first luxury department store Le Bon Marche, had the idea to build a hotel on the Left Bank on a piece of land across the department store, to help lodge customers and suppliers. Built like a reflection of the store, the hotel was built with the same modernity and elegance while keeping a similar functionality and style. It was designed as a resolutely forward-looking hotel. All the rooms offered hot water, telephones for calling reception, direct air conditioning, and rolling shutters controlled from inside the room – such modern amenities that most of hotels in that era did not have.
The father and son architect duo behind Le Bon Marche, Henri Tauzin and Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, son of Louis-Charles Boileau, were entrusted to execute this project. The hotel was built using processes and materials that were incredibly bold for the period. The innovative use of concrete and glass as well as the pillars built with hot-riveted steel reminds us of the Eiffel Tower, and rightly so since Gustave Eiffel was Louis-Hippolyte Boileau’s partner engineer. The Art Nouveau style became the main spirit of this building. The facade, undulating like a wave, is inspired by the naturalist trend of the era. Its stone balconies blend into the facade and are in harmony with the cornices. In tribute to the history of the location, the windows and balusters are decorated with angels, trellises, and grapes. The naturalist vein was gradually abandoned in favour of a style with more radical lines and a more streamlined symbolism: The Lutetia was a forerunner of Art Deco.
Hotel Lutetia was sold to the Israeli Alrov group in 2010 that owned The Set Hotels Group (with two renowned properties of Hotel Café Royal in London and Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam). After US$234 million and four years of beautification and restoration, the new Hotel Lutetia reopened in July 2018. The new owner appointed Jean-Michel Wiltmotte, an internationally renowned architect, urbanist and designer to revive this iconic landmark and create a modern 5-star hotel that would become the palace of the Rive Gauche.
The hotel also entrusted a group of experts such as Atelier de Ricou who is known for their expertise in restoring paintings, sculptures, murals and ornamental panels of historic monuments to bring back the beauty of Adrien Karbowsky’s magnificent fresco in Bar Josephine. Atelier Duchemin restored the Art Deco stained glass in the hotel, and Alain-Charles Perrot as the head architect for historical monuments was in charge of maintaining its heritage. As a result, the new Lutetia became a modern, sophisticated space perfectly blended with its original Art Noveau and Art Deco style.
To give more space, the new Lutetia reduced its number of rooms from 233 to 184, including 47 suites and seven unique “Signatures”. The decor of the rooms revolves around blue and raw silk or beige-grey tones. There is a dominance of blue, the colour of the sea and Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s favourite shade, for those overlooking the rue de Sèvres and the boulevard Raspail. The raw-silk colour is featured in rooms overlooking the interior courtyard.
The Icon of Glam
Those who have been to Europe and France in particular might know about the French food and delicatessen company called Fauchon. The company that was founded by Auguste Fauchon in 1886, has a very long journey in the gourmet industry and is known as an innovator in contemporary gastronomy, with restaurants, cafes, catering services and retail outlets spread in more than 50 countries.
In 2015, Fauchon under its current owner Michel Ducros decided to expand the business and try their luck in the luxury hospitality industry. They partnered with hotel group Esprit de France to co-manage the first Fauchon L’Hotel that is located on the Place de la Madeleine in Paris, nearby their first original retail store that was opened by its founder. On September 2018, the 5-star Fauchon L’Hotel opened its doors to the public and immediately became a hotspot for Paris’ young, rich and famous.
The hotel has a unique concept called “GLAM”, to create contemporary luxury by combining the comfort and refinement of an aesthetic cocoon with the glamour of a multi-sensory experience. The first G stands for gourmet, which has been the signature of Maison Fauchon and is represented throughout the hotel with their stunning bar and in-room gourmet services. L stands for location as the hotel is situated in the 8th Arrondissement, the most glamorous and celebrated of all Paris districts. The next letter A is for attention and experiences, which are bespoke, and far beyond the usual hospitality services. The last one, M, is for Mesdames that is dedicated for women featuring sophisticated lighting, Dyson hairdryers and Carita amenities.
They took over one of the most beautiful Haussmanian style buildings of its kind in the city.
Under the direction of Paris architect, Richard Martinet, the original mouldings, doors, balconies, and other design elements were preserved. To customise the space and incorporate Paris aesthetics with a modern touch, the Atelier Paluel Marmont incorporated the iconic Fauchon pink and black palette along with a style mixing contemporary and classicism to represent Parisian charm. In the guest rooms and suites, the design alternates powder-pink velvet accessories with straight curves and rock variations, black herringbone floors, and carefully restored Parisian shutters. Everywhere, a selection of artwork represents the characteristic cheekiness of Maison Fauchon. Small touches incorporate the charm of Fauchon: gold threads run inside the shower screens, carpets have been custom-designed with the graphics fonts of the house, and light fixtures have been sourced to provide a mood that combines functional intelligence with the ambience to recreate an entirely different nuance as the day evolves into the evening. A variety of unique pieces were commissioned for the hotel including a dual-purpose TV/secretary unit where the TV seems to disappear. It also functions as a small desk — a modern and exclusive version of the former secretary.
Additionally, a variety of contemporary French artists were commissioned to design pieces to customise various public spaces throughout the hotel. The lobby’s walls were created by French-renowned Master of Art Pierre Bonnefille, who is known for his chromatic palettes. The lighting work is from an artist called Aristide Najean who is known for his blown glass featured on the wall lights in the library called ‘bonbon’ (candy). The stunning chandeliers that illuminate the lobby and the Grand Café Fauchon were created by incredible artisan Eric de Dormael. There is also a classic and hidden architectural gem in this hotel where they keep the beautiful staircase from the original building. You must ask the hotel to show it as it is not visible to the public.
The accommodations at the Fauchon L’Hotel Paris have their own personalities. With a total of 54 guest rooms and suites — 37 rooms and 17 suites with Paris city views as the background. Designed to replicate typical Parisian apartments, some suites have their own lounge, which can accommodate a chef who can prepare a special meal en suite. In every room, you can also find “The Gourmet Bar” to replace the traditional mini-bar concept. Designed by Sasha Lakic from Roche Bobois, this bar comes in a form of a display case as a true library of treats. The bar brings to life several facets of the French Art de Vivre that Roche Bobois is known for.