Whether you prefer the gorgeous cobalt blue ocean views or the lush green hill views on the French Riviera, a stay at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc and Château Saint-Martin & Spa, two iconic hotels seeped in history, is where all your French Riveria dreams will come true.
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
If you're a sucker for breathtaking sunsets like I am, then a stay at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes is an absolute must. It's where you'll be treated to the most mesmerising sunsets of your lifetime. This iconic establishment with 111 gorgeous guestrooms has been the venue of choice for the amfAR Gala and other high-profile red-carpet events frequented by Hollywood stars. When I had the privilege of checking into this magnificent hotel on a rainy day in April, it had just concluded hosting the opulent wedding of Sofia Richie, the model, designer, and youngest daughter of the renowned singer Lionel Richie. The wedding had taken over our social media feeds, and it was every bit as gorgeous as it appeared in those pictures. Often referred to as the 'Grand Dame,' the hotel welcomed me to experience the romance that the French Riviera is renowned for.
With a history steeped in legend, it's no wonder that the Hotel du Cap has been the summer haven for countless stars, and creative minds since its inception in 1870. Having stood tall for almost 150 years, I couldn't help but wonder if the hotel's walls could speak, how many secrets and stories they would unveil. This was the place where Elizabeth Taylor spent her honeymoon with Conrad Hilton, where her legendary love affair with Richard Burton began, and where many famous celebrities turned it into their own love nest.
Originally built in 1869 and named Villa Soleil, it was envisioned as a sanctuary for writers seeking inspiration. By 1887, it had adopted its current name and was well on its way to becoming the preferred summer destination on the French Riviera. The list of legendary guests who have graced the Hotel du Cap is endless—Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Ernest Hemingway, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Grace Kelly, Kirk Douglas, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Sharon Stone, Justin Bieber, Winston Churchill, the Kennedys, Kardashians, Hiltons, and many more.
Grand as the French Riveira, what stunned me was the dreamy setting— century-old pine trees guard the hotel and grounds from the outside world, charming Belle Époque design style, French balconies, and a majestic 200-meter-long Grande Allée and uninterrupted views of the Riviera and sunset. It’s easy to feel the spirit of the Riveira here. Languid and lavish, you'll spot colourful yachts and sail boats mooring by the Eden-Roc restaurant, guests spending hours inside the century-old, heated saltwater infinity pool, and poolside staff sporting 1920s striped t-shirts and sunglasses serving you Niçoise salads and grilled Jumbo prawns in the privacy of one of the 33 waterfront cabanas. A harmonious fusion of classic elegance and modern refinement, like the newly launched swanky Dior spa, this is a place where you'll easily lose track of time.
As much as I was tempted to spend some time in my plush vintage-styled room, made prettier with fresh roses from the 150-year-old rose garden, gilded mirrors, chandeliers, and the most comfirtable bed to truly soak in the French flamboyance, it was the culinary indulgence that drove me out into the gorgeous setting. The magnificent ocean views spent enjoying a leisurely breakfast digging into a frshly baked criossant or sipping a champagne at lunch and watching the yachts sail by is what the slow life is all about. I highly recommend multiple rounds of Bellinis from the Bellini Bar, a seafood feast of fresh oysters, snails, lobsters and outstanding seabass ceviche, among others at the Eden Roc Restaurant, and a coma-inducing meal at the one-Michelin-star Louroc restaurant that brings the best of the Mediterranean and Provence culinary traditions. Trust chef Sébastien Broda to plate every meal as unforgettable as the colourful sunset views over the Mediterranean.
To say that the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc is the epitome of luxury and refinement would be an understatement. It's a timeless sanctuary, one of the world’s most famous and photographed hotel that leaves an indelible mark on anyone lucky enough to experience its magic.
Château Saint-Martin & Spa
While the coastal Riviera is a dazzling paradise, there is also a quieter side tucked into the hills of Vence that offer therapeutic pleasures. Spoilt from Hotel du cap’s extravagance and lavish pampering, I entered the former 1150's castle surrounded by olive groves and fragrant Tango roses as the last stopover in south of France. The air here instantly leaves you feeling calmer. The vast landscape, tranquil atmosphere and historic site of Château Saint-Martin & Spa is the perfect hillside getaway to escape the maddening crowds where you can treat yourself to the award-winning Spa Saint-Martin by La Prairie and Michelin-starred meals at Le Saint-Martin that spotlights local producers and flourishing kitchen gardens. A walk around the property uncovers the picturesque ruins, a fortified structure from Roman times, and the Saint-Martin chapel. The hotel’s ivy covered façade, the front lawns punctuated with highly sculptured spruces and hedges and long morning and evening walks are just too hard to resist.
The interior of the Château Saint-Martin & Spa is as impressive as the outside. There are 40 rooms within, plus six private villas in the surrounding hills. My spacious room was the perfect size with Italianate furniture, all in soft colours, a large balcony, with table, chairs overlooking the countryside. The hotel’s corridors feature paintings and ceramics by the charming artist Agnès Sandahl along with several other prominent artworks such as Matisse and many others. While I didn’t muster the courage to jump into the swimming pool under the shade of the olive trees, an experience here is worth the effort. What kept me in high spirits here is the hotel's collection of almost 20,000 bottles of wines in two cellars, where you can sample a tasting of the area’s wine with head sommelier Géraud Tournier.
The uninterrupted sessions of wine drinking here are perfectly complemented by the culinary delights dished out by head chef Jean-Luc Lefrançois at Le Saint-Martin. I am thinking of my lunch here that started with a flavourful cucumber gazpacho with a subtle jelly-like consistency that I wiped clean off my plate and ended with a burst of The Taste of Provence, a honey bavaroise, grapefruit, lavender cream and sorbet. One of the most tantalising meals I've ever had.
With olive oil produced from its olive gardens, homemade butter and fresh honey sourced from their own beehives, Chateau Saint- Martin is all about basking in nature and gastronomy.