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21 August 2015

Mythical Luxury Hotels

Often dating back hundreds of years, these ultra luxurious hotels and all their splendour have played host to all the great powers of this world and may even be considered as part of our heritage.

Behind their traditional facades, they present technology worthy of the 21st century!



Carlton Cannes © DR
By Adine Fichot-Marion

Luxury hotels are often known as “palaces”…But since 2010, it is not just these palaces that we want!
Only five-star establishments are eligible. More recent resorts must wait 12 months; 6 months for those that have been renovated in order to ensure that their activities are up to scratch. Candidates must submit their file to Atout France, an agency founded in 2009 and charged with managing this coveted label. They must fulfill 203 compulsory criteria and 31 facultative criteria! If the establishment is accepted, the bureau transfers its file to a jury comprising of ten people. This final stage analyses the quality of candidates, according to various criteria: their history, location, service, restaurant experience and environmental footprint.


  • Normandy Deauville

    In and around Normandy? This legendary establishment set beside the sea was constructed in 1912 under the instruction of François André. It was the first of the town’s great hotels, followed in 1913 by its neighbour, Hôtel Royal Barrière. A year after its opening, Gabrielle Chanel opened her boutique here! Modelled upon a gigantic Anglo-Norman manner with its pastel green timber posts and flagstones, it house 251 bedrooms and suites decorated with toile de Jouy and uncovered beams. A perfect balance between elegant design and tradition. In the Belle Epoque restaurant, one can enjoy classic lunches and dinners including Fouquet’s salad, shellfish pyramids, Normandy beef tartar with truffles and foie gras, with a special mention for the dominical brunch: simply divine! As for the Caviar Fouquet’s, here you can taste seafood products such as special Gillardeau oysters and Sprats de Riga…Decked out in wood and dotted with glass, it offers an extremely cosy ambiance. The standout American Piano Bar proposes a menu comprising of 123 different kinds of whisky. Take note: the hotel will be closed from 1st November 2015 until 28th April 2016 as part of the on-going renovations: a true rejuvenation will unfold! Le Royal hotel will be open especially during this period.

  • La Baule Hermitage

    Since 1927, it has reigned over La Baule, dominating the beach across from one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Today, having been renovated from top to bottom by Pierre-Yves Rochon, it is decked out in pastel tones and shades of blue, boasting nothing short of its past prestige. Amongst the 184 bedrooms and 16 suites with a view over the sea and local villas, we particularly appreciate the new south-facing luxury rooms spanning 25m2 with wonderful views over the sea. At the Eden Beach, its seafood and fish restaurant, relish the sand on your feet, regional products fresh from local markets and the new designer décor with its cool, chilled, chic atmosphere. Although this is no reason to snub the excellent poolside restaurant with its south facing terrace – perfect for a laid-back lunch!

  • Biarritz: brand new Hôtel du Palais

    Things are happening at the Hôtel du Palais this summer! This legendary resort and member of the Leading Hotels of the World is a former palace built by Napoleon III for his empress wife Eugénie on Biarritz Beach. The hotel has much to boast about: a fantastic location across from the Ocean, a dream swimming pool, restaurants, a fabulous buffet for lunch in the sun…There are 153 bedrooms, 50 of which are suites, the top ones being the Imperial Suites. Spanning between 75 and 90m2, these benefit from a plunging view over the Atlantic. Some among them have 3 bedrooms and bear the name of celebrities who have frequented the hotel: Romy Schneider, Hemingway or the Duchess of Windsor. And for a slap-up gastronomic meal, head for La Villa Eugènie : Michelin-starred chef Jean-Marie Gautier works with seafood and regional produce. We love the romanticism of La Rotonde with its high ceilings, impressive columns, enormous tables belonging to Empress Eugénie and Napoleon III and its unbelievable view over the Ocean, the bay and the Biarritz lighthouse. Two sizeable developments this year should be highlighted. For children, there is a multitude of original activities: crab-fishing competitions, galas, kids-only heated pool, brand-new play area, ceramics, video games – in short, a Kid’s Club fit for a prince! And at the Guerlain spa, treat yourself to a “beauty lift”. In 60 minutes, your features are remoulded through new anti-aging massage techniques. Every face muscle is stimulated and worked, softening wrinkles and activating microcirculation.

  • Le Grand Hôtel – Saint-Jean-de-Luz

    One of the legendary spots on the Basque coast and magnificently located in the middle of the bay, this establishment offers a breath-taking view over the Atlantic Ocean. It has recently reopened after eight months of renovations and has gained, in the middle of everything, 5-star classification. Fortunately, the place has maintained the standout elements of its former identity: coffered ceilings, inlaid marble and its large wooden staircase…that perfectly compliments the gold, black and bronze glimpses of Art Deco. In each of the 52 bedrooms, colour is key: blue, red…We love the junior suites and those on the first floor with their enormous terraces overlooking the Deep Blue. Its fish restaurant L’Océan benefits from a lovely sea fronted terrace, where you can relish cuisine by chef Christophe Grosjean – a fan of the gastro detox -, who favours vegetable and game fats. As for the Loreamar Thalasso, this is decorated with exotic wood, shells and pebble fountains…and remember the salt-water indoor swimming pool.

  • Negresco in Nice

    An unbendable resort on the Côte d’Azur, its famous pink dome has overlooked the Promenade des Anglais for a century! Its rotunda has welcomed the world and its wife, including celebrities and has its décor has been the backdrop to various films. It opened on 8th January 1913 as part of a project directed by Roumain Henri Negrescu who, feeling inspired, entrusted its creation to architect Edouard-Jean Niermans: the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz, Madrid’s Grand Hôtel, the Moulin Rouge, the Casino de Paris…this hotel instantly gathers together a host of prestigious guests that are amazed by the elliptic hallway, the giant carpet and glass ceiling, which since 2003 have been classed as historical monuments. Jeanne Augier, the emblematic owner of the place, has for several decades created a backdrop for her collection of eclectic works of arts ranging from a renowned portrait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud to a “Nana” by Niki de Saint Phalle! As for the restaurant, this speaks for itself! You have a choice between a gastronomic feast at the two-starred Chantecler, which is headed up by Jean-Denis Rieubland or the Rotonde brasserie, which offers décor that is surprising to say the least, with its 18th-century merry-go-round and wooden horses, its new terrace offering a superb glimpse of the Deep Blue.

  • The Carlton in Cannes

    Its historic Belle Epoque façade that majestically dominates the La Croisette is world famous! It boasts 343 bedrooms including 39 suites and the legendary Grand Salon, one of France’s historic monuments. The absolute must? Definitely the suites, comprising of two bedrooms and a salon complete with sophisticated furniture and offering a 180 degree view over the Med. It is in these that Grace Kelly and Cary Grant filmed Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief”. In the restaurant, head chef Laurent Brunel takes inspiration from seasonal products. On a private beach – complete with a restaurant and pontoon – various water-sports are on offer. The spa houses 4 cabins (3 treatment rooms and 1 hairdressing salon). Treatments and massages are carried out using products by Carita, TERRY, Acqua di Parma and Kure Bazaar.

  • Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

    At its opening in 1870, which was overseen by the founder of Le Figaro, Auguste de Villemessant, it was created as a shelter for writers seeking out their lost inspiration. But this project was swiftly abandoned, and it became a beautiful hotel. In 1914, with a salt-water pool carved into the rock, the Eden Roc Pavillion was established, celebrating its 100th birthday last summer, before the famous cabins bordering the Med. A member of the Oetker collection, this wonderful Napoleon III style structure, located at the ver tip of the Cap d’Antibes, in a 9 hectare park, is a mythical refuge with its pine forest, planted with sweet smelling buds and rose garden. This year, its restaurant has been beautifully refurbished, now enticing guests with its cosy atmosphere. Our favourite has to be the Bar-Lounge, which overlooks the Iles de Lerins and its view of the sea. Enjoy the menu at the Eden-Roc Grill, with notes of the Mediterranean as well as a sushi selection. Finally, the best bit has to be the famous infinity pool, which has witnessed and continues to welcome international superstars…This year at the spa, comprising of 4 newly renovated treatments rooms, you can indulge yourself with a Sisley care treatment.

  • Reims – Les Crayères

    A member of Relais & Chateaux, having formerly belonging to the Polignac family, today this establishment is owned by the Gardinier family and has been entirely renovated by interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who revisits the traditional « Château » style. And it truly does represent the quintessence of French sophistication! The hotel comprises of 20 highly sophisticated rooms and suites, each decorated differently and prettily entitled Baronness, Countess, Marquise, Princess or Duchess…reflecting the height of luxury! The best bit has to be the Empress Eugenie suite with its vast terrace, which opens up over the gardens and its bathroom, which we loved because it is also situated on the terrace. In an alternative style, we have to confess our weakness for the Baronness Marguerite, a room decked out in red and the 19, one of the Duchess variety, and its pale yellow shades. At Le Parc restaurant, which proudly sports 2 Michelin stars, enjoy cuisine cooked up by chef Philippe Mille (Best Worker in France) in a magnificent room decorated with wood, stuccos and tapestries. He favours a menu inspired by the four seasons. A truly wonderful culinary moment! If you favour simplicity, head for the Jardin brasserie with its designer atmosphere, which serves highly current, completely delicious cuisine. 

  • Le Royal – Evian

    Considered as the most beautiful hotel in the world at its inauguration in 1909, its takes its name from King Edouard VII who, having disappeared several months after its opening, never visited. Perched 450m above Lake Leman and rubbing shoulders with the peaks of the Alps, the Hotel Royal is an unmissable marker in top European hospitality. The architects, Francois Champsaur and Francois Chatillon were in charge of renovations, mixing historic heritage with contemporary design. The 150 rooms and suites that make up the hotel have all been restored and modernised. Take note: the new 6th floor suites offer an incomparable view! At the Fresques restaurant, indulge in an elegant and contemporary environment, while chef Patrice Vander offers inventive cuisine based on only the best products. Here, you can opt for main classics, including wild sea bream marinated in mango, wakamé and Oscietre caviar or Bresse fatted chicken or supreme cloute foie gras…As for the golf course, this is one of the world’s most prestigious. A magnificent spa, which offers exceptional treatments including Royal caviar for the body by la Prairie, which completes the offer of this extraordinary place.

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