Secret garden, style - and free buns!
There are several things I like very much about the Villa Victoria (VV), but the main one is the garden out the back. We are on one of Nice’s more distinguished central thoroughfares. Mature trees and classical, early 20th-century buildings lend an air of rooted respectability to the premises of lawyers, financial advisors and others who wear sharp suits for a living.
You would think that, by now, every available square inch of land round here had been developed. You would be wrong. In through the VV’s pale apricot façade, across the lobby, lounge and breakfast room, and you burst out into the loveliest, sunniest-possible garden. It’s a private slice of paradise bang in the city centre. Quite a big slice, too – a sixth of an acre, more or less, overcome with blooming Mediterranean fauna, and peppered with tables and chairs for your relaxation requirements.
You’d forgive a place quite a lot for the pleasure of whiling away breakfast, or the afternoon, here. The thing is, there really isn’t much to forgive the VV for. The welcome is warm, attentive and sharp. (They lay on free coffee and pastries throughout the afternoon – a gesture which reaps happiness out of all proportion, I bet, to its cost.)
From the lobby, the ground-floor – all light grey, green, cream and big flower pastels - flows in open-plan manner towards the garden. The ample space is divided by columns and arches. It’s rather satisfying to the clean-cut masculine mind, yet soft enough for more exacting feminine needs. Upstairs, the 38 rooms make no attempt for contemporary design awards. Though re-done recently, they wear a reassuring air of the 1980s – which, for those of us in our prime in that decade, is no bad thing.
And comfort is absolutely adequate. Rooms overlooking the boulevard are in tones of blue. Those overlooking the garden (which I’d go for, if you get the chance) are somewhat redder, with slightly odd bed head-boards: they look like huge exotic birds in vertical take-off mode. All rooms provide tea and coffee-making facilities, free WiFi and the sense that you’re doing Nice in a certain style – not up there with the real high-rollers, but a respectable distance from the budget people.
And even the highest of rollers might envy you your time in the VV garden. At some stage, though, you’ll need to get out, if only to eat lunch and dinner. There are abundant restaurants nearby. Otherwise, it’s some 10 minutes to the old town, the same to the front, where the VV has cut-price deals with the Galion private beach. One final point: the VV has private parking (18€/day) but for only a very few cars. If you want a space, be sure to book it when you reserve your room.