If it's good enough for the French president ...
The Méridien has what may be the best position of any top class hotel in Nice. Right at the city-centre start of the Promenade des Anglais, it looks out over gardens, the old town and mountains one way, directly over the Bay of Angels the other.
Indeed, the only thing which blights the prospect round here is the Méridien itself. From the outside, it is a vast and unlovely 1970s confection. Because it has so many balconies with so many railings it looks rather spindly, like a high-rise chicken coop.
But that’s from the outside. The advantage of staying here is that you’re on the inside and there, things get a whole lot better. French President Sarkozy doubtless came to the same conclusion when he stopped over in May 2010 for some kind of summit conference.
As that suggests, the Méridien is a place from which people – presidents, businessmen, media types – do their work. The huge, first-floor lobby and bar area, all oatmeal and black contemporary furniture like a VIP airport lounge, is just the place for signing contracts or sacking ministers. This, of course, has knock-on benefits for leisure travellers. It ensures that service and standards are at least polite and highly efficient. (In truth, they’re as friendly as can be here.) And, I don’t know about you but I’m just as happy to be surrounded by sharp people in suits as by fat folk in flip-flops when I’m on holiday.
Also, the suits are working and I’m not, which is always gratifying.
But the real pleasure of the Méridien is to be found higher up … first, in the 318 rooms. A word of warning here, mind. The Classic (ie, cheapest) rooms are ok, but they’ve not been renovated recently and they look out over an interior courtyard rather than the sea. If you’re going to go for a seaside four-star like this, I’d swallow the expense and spring for a Superior, at least.
These are found down corridors of deep magenta (magenta being the colour of reconciliation and peace, I was once told). They have been re-thought and re-done with a perfectly winning contemporary taste. There’s much black and grey, as you’d expect, but with splashes of red, metal and more magenta. Something of a theme, that.
Beds are huge and sumptuous, and the white leather settees have such high backs that they resemble cartoon furniture for making big people appear small. Bathrooms provide everything required for 21st-century ablutions. It all works splendidly – not least, of course, because of the balconies. Superior rooms have partial sea-views, which means they’re side on to the Med. Deluxe rooms and Junior suites are face on. Beds are positioned so that you may lie there and scan the morning horizons, before tottering to the terrace for a closer look.
Then you dress and take the lift down to the first-floor Colonial Café for a “signature breakfast experience” (that seems to refer to innovative juices like orange, carrot and raspberry – mixed together, I mean). Later you might take in the ninth-floor spa, fitness and beauty centre before doing what you really want to do, which is sit by the 10th floor, roof-top pool. Someone pleasant will bring you a mojito and you will stare out to sea until it’s time for lunch at the adjacent, equally roof-topping, restaurant. Given the outstanding views, mild sense of privilege and quite excellent Provençal food, it isn’t too pricey – from around 35€ for a full meal, less for single dishes.
The Méridien is partner of the Ruhl private beach way below. But you might prefer to stay right where you are for the afternoon, on the terrace. This will give you the sense that you’re among the Côte-d’Azur Elite. As indeed you are. Alternatively, you could return to the first floor lounge bar and sack a minister or two. Ask and I’ll give you my suggestions.