A touch of finesse in a world of brutes (and you can swim all year round, too ...).
Boy, I love the welcome in this hotel. The young chap behind reception greeted me with what appeared to be genuine pleasure. Later, the manager drifted over from heaven-knows-where, smiling as if my arrival had made his happiness complete.
And a lady I met, from the back office, was so lovely that I would certainly have asked her to marry me if (a) both she and I hadn’t been married already and (b) I’d thought there was the slightest chance of success.
In such circumstances, I am inclined to appreciate my surroundings, whatever they’re like. A pleasing atmosphere casts everything in an agreeable light. So of course I appreciated the lobby and bar. I was seated there with the lady mentioned above. The profusion of wood-panelling and columns, of space, mirrors and shiny tiled floor seemed just right. So did the Lloyds loom chairs. It was slightly as if the 1980s had been lightened up for 2011 tastes.
But the real plus was up a few steps nearby – an indoor, heated and all-year-round pool … bang in the middle of the hotel. One could watch people swimming from the bar, which is much better than watching people doing almost anything else. Even more crucially, it would keep the kids occupied while you tackled the apéritifs. Close by were a Jacuzzi, sauna and little fitness room, which wouldn’t detain me but might interest you.
Upstairs, the 122 renovated rooms had eschewed the fanatically contemporary for something a little more conventional, French and reassuring. All featured much in the way of red tones – on coverlets, drapes and walls – punctuated with softer hues. Fragonard toiletries perched on real Italian marble in the bathrooms. Superior rooms had more space and tea and coffee facilities. Up on the fifth floor, the Executive items had all that, plus balconies over the street below.
These were rooms for relaxing in, rather than for marvelling at the designer’s wit and invention, which is the right way round. And, as for the rooms, so it is for the hotel. There's an excellent breakfast in a bright breakfast room. Though there's no restaurant, eateries jostle nearby - and a couple of the better ones supply room service to the hotel. And the bar, as we've noted, is just fine.
The Nice Riviera is, in short, an excellent base to issue forth from – five minutes from main shopping and the old town, a touch further from the beach – but an even better place to return to. Though it may look a bit modern-brutalist from the outside it has, inside, some of the most courteous people in town overseeing an establishment of comfort and warmth. ‘A touch of finesse in a world of brutes,’ as the French phrase has it.