With France’s busiest airport outside Paris shipping in tourists by the thousand, Nice’s hotel industry has gone from good to through-the-roof in recent years. More than 10,000 hotel rooms are dotted around the city, and yet still it can be a struggle to get heads on beds during high season and festival time (Nice Jazz Festival and the Carnaval de Nice, in particular). Book in advance, then, to be sure of avoiding disappointment.
Old school vs digital age
Disappointed is the last thing you will be if you decide to go stellar and check in to one of the palace hotels, such as the Negresco. However, some of the young pretenders are giving the old guard a run for their money with bleeding-edge design, digital-age facilities and trendier-than-thou drinking and dining: foremost among this band of newcomers is the Hi Hôtel at the eastern edge of Nice’s New Town.
Service wth a smile
But the lifeblood of the Côte’s hotel industry is its many smaller, family-run hotels that specialise in that particular brand of southern French hospitality – breakfast on the terrace, sunny guestrooms and enthusiastic staff, proud of their city and happy to take the time to point you in the direction of a relative’s bar or a favourite stall at the market. Villa la Tour (one of the rare hotels in Vieux Nice) is a typical examples. But you won’t need to look long to find many, many more.
The chains, too, have a good presence up and down the coast, with Nice’s Four Points Sheraton Elysée Palace (www.elyseepalace.com) being a particularly popular stop. And just to clear up any confusion: the most famous of the palace hotels, the Regina, where Queen Victoria and Matisse once stayed (although not – quelle horreur – together), may still exist as a building, and indeed may have retained its name, but it is no longer a hotel. It was converted as far back as the 1930s into an apartment block and is home to some of the city’s wealthiest denizens. So don’t go knocking.
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