Aristocratic, glamorous, surprising and forever young ! Le Negresco, Nice

Beyond its most enviable location with panoramic frontal sea views, its majestic facade resembling a Royal palace rather than a hotel and the one of a kind interior design which humorously and courageously blends, in a unique way, the most classic Louis XIV Empire art with the most daring, surprising and eyecatching contemporary art – Le Negresco is a state of mind, it is a living spirit which has exceeded its fame, history, founders and celebrity guests.

It’s almost like Le Negresco invites each and every guest to a dialogue, a sensible mockery of its own and even irony. It is impossible to find logic in why certain artpieces are positioned where they are or why a certain sharp, almost neon colour has been opted for the hallways on each floor. But Le Negresco can ”afford” this ”attitude”, profoundly French, because it is unique and there is no other hotel in the world it can be compared to.

No matter one’s nationality or whether he or she is staying in the hotel or just walking through to visit the lobby, it is impossible not to encounter this spirit, which is effortlessly acquired by each and every of the hotel’s team. Again, another ironic contrast… If you expect Le Negresco to be one of those luxury palatial hotel which master the art of French arrogance and attitude, you may stay for as long as you want, but you will not come across that. Whether in the 2 star Michelin fine dining restaurant of the hotel at dinner, or at breakfast and basically at any interaction with staff,  one feels like being welcome into a large family.

And in its 100 year history, celebrated last year and this year, the hotel’s staff, no matter the department, fell in love with Le Negresco and they felt like they have a responsibility to take care of it for the next generations of staff and guests to cherish. Le Negresco has survive wars (during the First World War, the hotel was turned into a hospital), then, several owners (ironically none an educated art connoisseur!)…then at a point the degradation cause by closure due to financial crisis.

When young Romanian immigrant Henry Negresco built the hotel in 1912, he must have not anticipated the spirit and the fame the hotel would built,in time.Each room, each hallway on each floor, each suite is ‘particulier’ as they say in French, no two featuring the same interior design not even layout.

Last year, Le Negresco organized a party for the retired staff and seeing the passion they remember their times at Le Negresco is truly emotional- they speak about Le Negresco with so much respect and one can easily see, Le Negresco will forever remain in their hearts….Some of those attending, in their 70′ and 80′ used to work for the hotel for more than 40 years and for many of them, Le Negresco was their only job! And in those times, each and every member of the Negresco family was not preoccupied by ‘promotions’ or ‘positions’…. Each and every day, they cherished serving guests and the smile of a happy guest was more than rewarding. This is the ultimate service level, which today, is almost impossible to achieve through the most advanced training and motivation programs…

Two years ago, again the spirit of the Negresco attracted a new General Manager, Pierre Bord, the first professional luxury hotelier, to act as a true Manager of the hotel. Call it fate or destiny, but Pierre’s chemisty with Le Negresco was ‘love at first site’ . He not only understood this spirit of the Negresco but since he arrived, each and every day, his friends (the staff), including the one and only Carmen, the permanent resident of the hotel (a beautiful Burma cat) who does not miss the important daily morning briefing which takes place not in some meeting room of the offices, but in the hotel’s bar. Why? Because, that is Carmen’s favourite place where she has her very own reserved armchair, able to carrefully listening to the topics of the meeting…

The customer service which emerges from this unique spirit, today, enhanced by Pierre, is impossible to describe in words. It is not flawless but it is personal and genuine and that is what attracts over half of the patrons of the hotel from all over the world, who return to the hotel each year.

Yes, the hotel has no SPA or swimming pool, and that is why it will may never join the ‘extraterestrial’ criteria for the ‘Palace’ designation launched last year, for a select group of hotels, one which instead of adding an L to the 5 stars, it adds a separate Palace. But why would Le Negresco need this small plate at the entrance when everybody agrees Le Negresco is by definition a Palace. It’s like Hermes or Chanel needs an additional appelation or designation to luxe or luxury….maybe Plus Luxe.

Another beautiful paradox at the hotel is that Le Negresco is not a marketing product. Former guests and potential new guests do need to be kept updated, but would they be more drawn to the Le Negresco if the hotel launches every month some ‘luxury package’ with discounts, an additional free night for a certain number of stays etc.

Much like the service which is nothing pretentious or sophisticated, some of the guests from as far as Japan, US or UAE do not need to see an advertising or a package. One morning, I saw the latest Ferrari model just preparing to drive off and Pierre told me ‘you know they book by’ and he felt, in a way frustrated, that he is not able to get information before the arrival of such guests. Yes, it is privacy, but a 21st century one, which needs to be accepted. He, as a guest, needs to understand and feel the Le Negresco spirit, otherwise, if he expects the facilities or the amenities of a major international luxury chain he would certainly check out before unpacking. And that is how the story will be carried like in a fairy tale….

As for the renovations, which some guests on several speciality review websites are so worried about, yes, the hotel now has undergone a general refreshment of all rooms and suites. And the 2nd and 5th floor are entirely renovated – furniture pieces beautifully restored and additional technology – touch control of airconditioning, state of the art LED Tv, high speed wi-fi, custom made bathroom amenities etc.

A comprehensive dedicated gallery of photos is available on our Facebook page.

Oliver Petcu in Nice

Le Negresco, one of the hallways