Eating and drinking
Who stays there
- Business Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
A touch of old-fashioned finesse in a world of brutes.
Now, here’s a Côte-d’Azur hotel like they used to build them – and still would, if I had anything to do with it. Overseeing the port, the place rises bright white and ornate like a monumental wedding confection. Columns, sculpted reliefs and cream awnings announce a style harking back to the days when the Riviera reflected the expectations of the carriage trade.
The place really needs gentlemen (conceivably ‘lords’) with boaters, and ladies with crinoline and a confident way with domestic staff. The sort of people, in short, who thought the Riviera their due and found it really quite tolerable.
The air of old-fashioned elegance continues inside. It’s a bit like entering a country house, but one freshened up smartly for the contemporary comfort-seeking classes. The lobby is a paean to wood-panelling. Vintage furniture, treasures and a sense of solidity stalk the corridors and public spaces. The lounge has been bespoke-tailored for the taking of tea in the afternoon, the sipping of cognac somewhat later.
But the whole is lightened by bright fabrics and wall-hangings, interesting lighting and well-deployed horticulture. A friend of mine says that he can’t stand traditional Côte-d’Azur hotels because they’re too “chintzy”. He’d be happy at the Splendid, I think – because they’ve got the balance between 1920 and 2011 exactly right. Some bedrooms, for instance, have a terribly modern TV disguised as a mirror … but also those ridged cast-iron radiators which gave our (great) grand-parents so much damned trouble.
Otherwise, the rooms are simple and rather welcoming. They’re peppered with the less ponderous sort of period furniture and brightened with slabs of pastel colour and dabs of brighter tones. The apricot ‘n’ cream tones of the Privilege rooms (third in a league of four room categories) are particularly restful.
But the key thing in all but the cheapest, Standard rooms, is the view to the port, the Lérin islands and the briny beyond. Settle on the balcony and you’ll realise you’re staying in a postcard. This is the Côte-d’Azur you’ve been led to expect. You’ll want to hug yourself – or, better still, hug a loved one – at the rightness of it all.
You may have the same view at breakfast, from the breakfast room terrace. That is the only meal you can eat here. The Splendid has no real restaurant. But you’re bang in the centre of town, with the Suquet Hill old quarter a few paces one way, the more modern bits the other. So it needn’t take you above five minutes from shower to dinner.
But I do urge you to try to do it with some style. If you can’t manage a boater or crinoline, at least leave off the Everton FC away strip. The Splendid has long memories; it has been a hotel since the 19th-century. It’s still family-run. They’re doing their bit to maintain decorum and good manners – and so should we. Heaven knows, it’s an uphill struggle.