5-Star Hotel Guide

Côte d'Azur

The glittering coastline of la Côte d'Azur is home to some of France's finest 5-star hotels

Côte d'Azur
Côte d'Azur

5-star hotel guide to la Côte d'Azur

Simply rolling "Côte d'Azur" on your tongue conjures up images of sensual sojourns. The shimmering South of France, also often referred to as the French Riviera, is a riot of 'haute côte' with a seriously pampered climate - 2,668 hours of sunshine per year, to be precise - so the perfect place for a spring, or autumn escape, as well as during the high summer season.

The timeless allure of La Côte d'Azur

"A playground with a fairy blue sea" is how F. Scott Fitzgerald described this coastline a century ago, and it hasn't much changed. He came here to finish "The Great Gatsby" and discovered a world of sun, sea and fun, encouraging many others to follow in his footsteps. Such meriment was found he christened the place the "Roaring Riviera" and its allure has never faded. His fourth, last, and arguably best book, "Tender is the night", was even set in the Côte d'Azur's most glamorous hotel, the incomparable Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Here, in high season, returning guests make it almost impossible to book a suite, even if you can afford the 5-night minimum stay requirements... 

Technically, the Côte d'Azur stretches from Monaco past Saint-Tropez and Toulon to the wild and untamed Rhône delta, around Marseille, where the long flat sand beaches are often deserted. Meanwhile, the sophisticated glitz and glamour of France's most notorious coastline are found in and around Cannes, Antibes and Nice as well as the principality of Monaco, with its prized casino and grand prix capital: Monte-Carlo.

With so many luxury and 5-star hotels dotted along this coastline, our luxury hotel guide and 5-star hotel reviews will help you choose one or more to suit you mood.

Glitz, hills or sand in your Tods?

Generally speaking, the areas around Nice and Cannes - the Riviera - are swankier and glitzier, whilst Saint-Tropez and places further west are less formal. We are not alone in adoring the laid-back style of 'St Trop' where you can't easily tell the billionaires from merely rich people, unless you observe them arriving at Club 55 on their yacht or in a Bugatti.

If landing at Nice, there is, in our opinion, really only one place to stay; and that's Hôtel Le Negresco, the grand dame of this embracing, friendly city. Here the combination of a perfect position on Promenade des Anglais, stately splendour, fabulous art, wonderful sea-view suites, outstanding service and exquisite food - Chantecler is 2- Michelin-starred - is intoxicating.

Glittering Cannes is a year-round destination due to its festivals and conferences and our pick of the Croisette-front hotels is Le Grand Hôtel, still privately-owned and offering sleek, contemporary sea-front suites with balconies overlooking their own garden towards Croisette beach.

While the Côte d'Azur gets pretty hot and crazy in high season, it's always fun, with Cannes and Monaco, in particular, a magnet for supercars and showoffs. It does make for amusing viewing. After a few days you might want to head for the hills, and our latest luxury exploring took us to Vence, where the lovely Château Saint-Martin offers a more peaceful option; a pampering, family-friendly spa escape with stunning views over the coast. 

All along the glittering coastline

Back down on the coast, azure waters are kissed by carefree yachts and super yachts beneath priceless cobalt skies, while rivalling supercars cruise along one of the three corniche's that wind their way around the rugged hillsides, topped with quaint medieval villages. The 'azure coast' provides all the glamour you could ever wish for, as well as breathtakingly dramatic vistas and picturesque ports and villages.

Between Cannes and Monaco, our favourite hotels include Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Cap Estel (glamour on a more discreet scale, like staying at your billionaire-friend's private residence) and Château Eza, perched above the sea in the pretty village of Eze, with incredible views. In Monaco, we favour the impeccable Hôtel Metropole.

May and June are magical months in Saint-Tropez before the crowds arrive in full force and the weather is already perfect. Even the road from Sainte-Maxime is free-flowing and one can get to the beach for lunch in a few minutes.

September is the month to sail into town, with the crowds now departed and while the sun lingers longer. At the end of the month you can watch beautiful vintage yachts race for the Rolex Trophy in the bay of Saint-Tropez in the annual Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, previously known as the Nioulargue, alongside streamlined contemporary Admiral's Cup racers.

Our Saint-Tropez collection includes finely calibrated 5-star La Réserve Ramatuelle with its 2 Michelin-starred restaurant, La Voile, and wonderful sea views, Villa Marie tucked away amongst vineyards but close to the famous Pampelonne beaches and exquisite Pan dei Palais, an elegantly exotic mansion perfectly positioned in the centre of the town between Place des Lices and the Port. We also have private access to a number of gorgeous villas dotted around the peninsular.

If you are after an exquisitely private villa overlooking the Mediterranean, then La Réserve Ramatuelle also offers 14 beautiful 3, 4, 5 and 6-bedroom luxury villas dotted across its hillside, a few minutes from Saint-Tropez's Pamplelonne beaches. Another favourite is Cante Terra, a beautiful bastide positioned in the mountains overlooking the Bay of Saint-Tropez, offering peace and mesmerising views, yet only 20 minutes from the buzz of 'St Trop'.

We have also hand-picked a collection of beautiful luxury villas in and around Saint-Tropez and Ramatuelle. Please contact our concierge for details.

A Côte d'Azur and Provence combo?

All our 5-star hotels are cherry-picked, individually reviewed and approved by our expert team to offer the finest South of France experiences, but if the Roaring Riviera gets too frenetic, you can do what we often do; combine a stay on the Côte d'Azur with a few days in peaceful, fragrant Provence.