Nice: The Negresco
Many hotels get called unique but the luxury 5-Star Negresco in Nice on the Côte d’Azur is one of the few that justifies the claim. Not only is it one of the finest and most historic hotels on the Riviera, it is also one of the finest art galleries in Nice.
Situated right on the Promenade des Anglais, it is unmissable for several reasons. One is its pink dome, which has watched over the Bay of Angels since the hotel was first opened in 1913. But another is the vividly colourful sculpture of Miles Davis by Niki de Saint Phalle that stands outside the entrance. It’s a sign of the rare combination of formality and fun that makes the Negresco unlike any other hotel you’ll ever stay in.
Viewing the Negresco’s Art Collection
Staying in it is also the best way to appreciate even a portion of some of the 2,000 art works that decorate the public areas, line the corridors of each floor, and are even to be found in the guest bedrooms. Visitors are welcome, but there are no guided tours and, with security to consider, being a guest at the hotel is the only sure way to be able to wander round freely and admire the collection. And this is no ordinary collection. On your left as you enter the hotel is the Salon Versailles, where you will find one of only three authentic surviving portraits of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Of the other two, one is in the Louvre in Paris and the other in the Palace of Versailles.
The Negresco’s Salon Royal
Straight ahead of you through the lobby is the Salon Royal, the heart of the hotel. It’s a vast, open room that’s flooded by light filtering through the glass dome, the work of Gustave Eiffel. Here is a chandelier made up of almost 17,000 pieces and originally commissioned by Tzar Nicholas II. The matching chandelier is in the Kremlin in Moscow. Here too the classic and modern art stand side by side. You might see, for instance, a formal portrait of Napoléon III, while dominating the room is another colourful work by Niki de Saint Phalle. It’s one of her Nana creations, La Nana Jaune, a Rubenesque yellow woman slowly twirling and resplendent in her bright blue swimming costume.
More Art at the Negresco
Each floor at the Negresco has corridors lined with an amazing assortment of art. Just walking to and from your room is a pleasure, and you should spend an hour or two exploring all the floors. The entrance to each floor has a different period theme, again ranging from the classical style of Napoléon III on the Executive 5th Floor to the modern art on the 2nd Floor where you’ll find original work by Jean Cocteau, amongst others.
Why so much art in a luxury Côte d’Azur Hotel? Well, the owner, Jeanne Augier, is an exceptional woman. She and her father bought the run-down hotel in 1957, and she was determined from the start to create a museum hotel, where guests could not only enjoy the best of Riviera luxury, they could enjoy its famous art heritage too. Since her husband died in 1995, Jeanne Augier has run the hotel single-handed, maintaining its independence and its unique nature. Madame Augier still lives at the hotel, on the 3rd floor, and her cat Carmen can be seen in many of the artworks around the hotel – and frequently wandering round the lobby too.
Dining at the Negresco
Oh yes, and if the art collection doesn’t tempt you, perhaps the restaurant will. Le Chantecler is one of the best restaurants in Nice, with a Michelin star.
Promenade des Anglais 37, 06000 Nice, France
Phone: +33 (0)4 93 16 64 00
The Negresco Wesbsite
All Photos (c) Donna Dailey