Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc

France

The glamorous setting for F Scott Fitzgerald’s 'Tender is the Night'

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Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc
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Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc

Location

Boulevard J.F Kennedy, at the tip of Cap d'Antibes overlooking the Iles de Lérins and Pointe Croisette

Travel Information

Nice airport is less than 30 mins away by S-class

Top Tips

A suite with a sea view might be pricey but, what-the-heck, live the dream!

5-Star X-Factors

Too many to mention, but the iconic kidney-shaped infinity pool has to be one

Utterly haute Côte d’Azur

If anywhere epitomises the most glamorous period of the French Riviera, it is Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, overlooking the Iles de Lérins and Pointe Croisette from its imperious position at the tip of Cap d’Antibes. Today, it continues to occupy pole position on the 'Haute Côte'.

Its provinence is second to none. The setting for F Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night – the novel that defined the 'Roaring Riviera' lifestyle – Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc has hosted so many A-listers that repeating their names would be futile. Instead, think of a star, any star, and they’ve been here. With eight out of ten guests returning, they’ve probably been here more than once. Some come every year, especially during the Cannes Film Festival. I am sure you get the picture.

A WHITER SHADE OF PALE

This is not a place to arrive in a Peugeot. An S-class would facilitate a moderately elegant entrance, but a Bentley would be better. A smiling, genuinely warm welcome awaits and your first impression is that you have arrived somewhere very special indeed. Your second thought combines the words; card, credit and limit.

Describing the hotel as a ‘villa’ may be technically correct, but rather underplays its grandeur. This is a villa in the same sense that Buckingham Palace is a house. In my eyes, it's more of a mansion or even a seaside château.

The main building is iconic, radiantly white with a pale-grey tiled mansard roof under an azure sky; it could only be French in the style of Napoleon III. The 'château' elegantly overlooks the palm-fringed, aptly named, ‘Grande Allée’ which leads down to the sea, where the pool and restaurants are found in an ocean liner-like pavilion, which also accommodates some exclusive suites overlooking the water.

 A HEAVENLY ASCENT

Having checked-in and upgraded, we took the crystaline lift to our Junior Suite on the top floor. With wood, brass and glass polished to a continuous shine, this lift glides transparently between floors, its crested glass doors opening gracefully to a brass button’s command. It was an experience we loved to repeat for any excuse.

Our elevated corner suite was spacious, with triple aspect views to the sea, across the park and towards Juan les Pins. A pretty perfect place to stay for a few nights. Traditionally furnished in pale creams and greens and offering every creature comfort, including lashings of Sisley ecoutrements in the lavish marble bathroom, we wanted for nothing. Well, I say that, but some other suites do have balconies…

A few 19th century touches remain. While conventional room service can be accessed via your telephone, the brass call buttons also offer the option for summoning either a valet de chambre or a femme de chambre. Equality aside, service is prompt, courteous and efficient at all times. Our room service test was passed with flying colours; 4 cappuccinos (2 each) arrived piping hot within 5 minutes, both mornings.

There are 117 guestrooms including One Bedroom Suites, Deluxe One Bedroom Suites and the Eden Roc Suite, which can connect with a Junior Suite to form a vast appartment.

Two private villas in the gardens complete the accommodation choices, Villa Les Cèdres with two bedrooms and Villa Eleana with three.

DINING AMONGST THE STAR-MAKERS

Overhearing conversations on adjacent tables is all part of the experience in the gastronomic Eden-Roc Restaurant. It’s not that the tables are closely positioned - they aren’t - it’s more that film financiers, producers and directors all seem to be macho-opinionated. Donald Trump may have shared his views of Meryl Streep's abilities, but we overheard casting judgements that made DJT sound polite.

To be honest, despite panoramic views through the expansive windows, Sophie and I both preferred eating outside on the stunning terrace, which we enjoyed immensely the following day for a very long lunch that must have lasted a full 4 hours. Within, we felt the interior a tad lavish and flamboyant. However, the service is as impeccable as the à la carte prices are historic. A starter of Dublin Bay Prawns roasted with tarragon butter was €84, Catch of the Day, Mediterranean Sea Bass, priced at €20 per 100gms. Think about that next time you are at the fishmongers.

The tasting menus are better value at €152 for five courses and €190 for six, featuring: foie gras with chanterelles, the aforementioned Dublin Bay prawns with tarragon, bluefin tuna with avacado, lamb with a pepper crust, cheese and apricot iced almond mousse. Delicious!

Out on the terrace, the ocean liner feeling encourages a languorous lunch overlooking the pool and the sea dotted with yachts. We took our time over prawns, perfect risotto and lamb washed down with Domain Ott Rosé and Domaine Trevallon Bandol 2012.

The Grill, a floor below, serves simpler dishes, including sushi, pasta, burgers, grilled gambas and fish and, of course, salads.

For sundowners, choose between, the stylish Champagne Lounge or the Eden Roc Bar to watch the sun descend behind the islands in a blaze of fuchsia and orange. If it turns chilly, La Rotande is a light and airy bar with great views out to sea. The Bellini Bar, in the main building, is the perfect place for a pre-prandial or a digestif pitstop on your way back to your suite.

FUN BESIDES THE SEA

Almost every model or actress worthy of the title has been photographed in or beside the salt water infinity swimming pool. If you prefer the sea, the high diving board is the quickest way to take a dip, but beware, rating your diving style is a popular spectator sport on the bar's terrace.

Watersports are well catered for with jet skiing, kayaking, waterskiing, sailing and windsurfing. Cabanas are dotted throughout the grounds, where you can relax in the sun in privacy, with linen clad waiters serving your every need.

Clay tennis courts add a comforting sountrack during a walk around the grounds; that is unless over-enthusiatic grunters/screamers are broadcasting their game.

The Sisley Spa – which our long lunches prevented us from experiencing - has four treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room, gym and beauty salon. The boutique features beautiful things with price tags that demand a second glance.

With a Green Globe Certificate for commitment to its environment, Hôtel du Cap’s gardens are beautifully maintained. The flora and fauna are thoughtfully sustained, the palms tendered with real care and the Grande Allée’s stones raked twice a day to maintain that ‘perfect’ standard guests expect. In 'Tender is the night', F Scott Fitgerald wrote that the villa was ‘cooled by deferential palms’ and his words still accurately describe this unique setting.

WHAT TO DO IN CAP D’ANTIBES

Picasso and Marc Chagall both lived and painted in Antibes and Renoire’s home was 20 minutes away, so with galleries dedicated to Picasso and Renoir, art lovers will have plenty to see.

Exploring the hills and villages of the Côte d’Azur is highly recommended as a rocky contrast to the coastline, with great restaurants to try for lunch.

Messing about in boats is a must and the hotel has its own pontoon and motor launch to charter to explore the Lerins islands and beyond. There are plenty of glittering yachts bobbing in the bay, some who bring their owners to dine at Hôtel du Cap, traversing the water on their polished tenders.

If you want to venture out for lunch or dinner, you don’t have to go far. There are four Michelin-starred restaurants on the Antibes peninsula.

SWEET DREAMS

Each evening we enjoyed a digestif and cigar - after all this is the Haute Côte - on the terrace of the now newly refreshed Bellini bar, to hang on to the view of the sweeping, expertly-lit, palm-fringed Grand Allée for just a little longer.

On our last evening, the mansion was ablaze in pink as we watched teams of technicians transforming the whole hotel into the most exclusive venue for a lavish wedding weekend. While we reflected on the fun we’d had dipping into the Haute Côte lifestyle, it would seem that, for a privileged few, this remains their daily de rigueur

Peter Matthews
Peter Matthews


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer