Best French Riviera Luxury Hotels

Best French Riviera Luxury Hotels


The beautiful French Riviera sparkles with gorgeous ocean views, gleaming designer boutiques and their chic well-heeled clientele, lively street performances, and heady Provencal cuisine. Unless you just must be at the Cannes film festival, we'd recommend avoiding the latter half of May, when it usually takes place, as it drives up already pricey hotels. If you can, consider instead September, after the school holidays are over, the crowds have thinned and the extreme heat has passed, but weather is still generally sunny and pleasant. And where to stay? We thought you'd never ask. Here are our top picks, beautiful hotels that also offer excellent and attentive service, without the attitude of some Riviera luxury hotels:

Le Palais de la Mediterranee has a prime location right on the vibrant Promenade des Anglais in Nice, with stunning ocean views, yet most rooms are surprisingly quiet. Entry level Superior Rooms range from 290-376 square feet, and while most offer city views, 35 have a terrace with a partial sea view. We'd recommend splurging on a Deluxe Room or higher, however, as these are more better appointed and fresher from a recent renovation. The style is modern Art Deco, with some neutral colors brightened by a few bold colors. We love that the unique indoor outdoor pool enables year-round swimming, especially as the beach club (not run by the hotel) is, as are many Nice beach clubs, overpriced. The breakfast buffet is very extensive for France, and worth getting included in your rate or prepaying for at a discount. Make sure to request an ocean view table on the terrace if any are unoccupied. Consider dining elsewhere for dinner, however, since the hotel restaurant is pricey for what it is; you'll find better value in the old town, and fortunately, the concierge staff is excellent in making recommendations and reservations.
Best French Riviera Luxury Hotels
Close to Nice and set in charming St Jean Cap Ferrat, the Royal Riviera is perched on a cliff, with sweeping views of the Mediterranean from the terrace and its own private beach, with jet skiing, paragliding and other water sports available. Standard Mountain Rooms are tiny, so we'd recommend upgrading to at least a Superior Room, which are more beautifully appointed and with views of the gardens and the ocean beyond. In addition to the views, we love the Royal Riviera's location, a short walk to the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station, and a pleasant walk the other direction to Villefranche and marina shops and restaurants, and don't miss a visit to the villa and gardens Ephrussi de Rothschild, which are stunning. What really distinguishes the Royal Riviera is its superb personalized service–you'll be greeted by name, and the concierges are only too glad to help you uncover some hidden gems in the French Riviera that you might otherwise have missed. We do wish they'd provide pillowtop mattresses, however, as their beds are European style–too firm for our taste. We also wish the small gym and “spa” were larger and more luxurious, but all in all, this truly is one of the best properties for the cost in the pricey Nice area.
Best French Riviera Luxury Hotels
Looking for modern, chic and boutique in Cannes? The Five Hotel & Spa is a great choice. The hotel was designed by world renowned architects Nicolas Adnet and Marc Hertrich, and rooms feature bold clean lines yet focus on comfort just as much as style, with dreamy king beds, L'Occitane bath amenities, and in-room Nespresso machines. Deluxe Rooms are a decent sized 322 square feet, with Executive Rooms a spacious 430 square feet. We love that you receive a complimentary pastry welcome amenity by top patissier Jerome de Oliveira, and suspect that if your sweet tooth is anything like ours, you'll make a daily stop at his Intuitions by J pastry shop in the hotel. As lovely as the hotel and the service is, it's also hard to beat the quick walk to the beach and to Cannes' old town, without the sky high price tag of actually being on the beach. If we had to nitpick, the sleek rooftop infinity pool is on the small side and the 7 Euro charge for a single tea bag is ridiculous–bring your own. Thankfully the Nespresso is complimentary.

Best French Riviera Luxury Hotels

Getting to the French Riviera with miles or points

You'll most likely fly into Nice (NCE) from another destination in Europe, as there aren't nonstop flights from the U.S. Here are our picks for at least getting the transatlantic portion in first class or business class. All mileage amounts are one way, simply double them for roundtrip.

1. Lufthansa First Class or New Business Class via Frankfurt or Munich for 67,500 United miles (First) or 50,000 miles (Business Class)

If you can book Lufthansa First Class 15 days before departure, this is a good option. You could build in enough time to experience the First Class Terminal if you fly via Frankfurt, but even if you fly via Munich, the Lufthansa Munich First Class Lounge is excellent all the same. Check out our recent review of Lufthansa's New First Class.

You can earn the United miles you need with these credit cards:


2. Singapore Suites Class NYC-FRA for 57,375 KrisFlyer miles, then Lufthansa to Nice for 12.5K or 20K United miles

This is a pretty short flight and a night one at that to experience Singapore Suites, but the nice thing is that you can book it in advance; see Singapore Airlines Suites Award Tips and FAQ. From Frankfurt, you'll need to fly Lufthansa if you want a nonstop, and I'd opt for 12.5K miles in economy since the flight is only 1.5 hours.


3.  First Class on British Airways NYC to London for 60,000 Avios, then cheap flight to Nice

There are high fuel surcharges on British Airways, so this option is mainly if you want to visit the UK anyway before or after the French Riviera, or if you have a companion ticker voucher you'ver earned with the British Airways Visa and want to redeem. The British Airways Visa is again offering up to 100,000 Avios points, but see our analysis at     You can get a cheap flight from London to Nice on easyjet.

If you want to reduce the fuel surcharges, you could use British Airways Avios to fly Aer Lingus Business Class to Dublin (an especially good deal if you fly from Boston) with a cheap flight to Nice, or Iberia via Madrid or Barcelona.


4.  Business Class (Envoy) on US Airways for 30,000 Dividend Miles off-peak to Paris (roundtrip required), then cheap flight to Nice

While I'm not really a fan of US Airways, their offpeak business class awards are a good deal, for just 60,000 miles roundtrip from the U.S. to Paris. Keep in mind that US Airways awards are strictly roundtrip, so you won't be able to fly US Airways just one way (or rather, you'd end up paying the roundtrip award price). You can get a cheap easyjet flight from Paris to Nice.

If you've been to the French Riviera, what did you enjoy?

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