Family-run four-star for business and leisure.
This is an up-market option suitable for top-end US tourists, African government delegations and people from London on short breaks. I can say this with some assurance because they were all there last time I passed through and all seemed happy. “Certainly,” said a chap from London, who was the only one I could hear above the bustle in the lobby.
The Splendid is on a sedate, tree-lined thoroughfare otherwise colonised by lawyers, surgeons and estate agents. Boulevard Victor Hugo is among the classier addresses in central Nice. To be honest, though, the hotel doesn’t add much to the aesthetics of the district, not from the outside.
It used to. From the 1880s to the 1960s, this was a rather grand-looking Côte-d’Azur palace hotel. Then the owning Tschann family fell victim to the Sixties’ mania for knocking down grandeur and putting up concrete. Now it’s a rather anonymous-looking item. “We can’t remake the past,” says the present boss Michel Tschann, whose energy banishes trace elements of regret.
Still and all, you can’t see the outside when you’re inside, and the inside is very reassuring. The lobby sweeps up to a lounge in an effusion of pale marble, columns and rounded wood-panelling. There’s a swish of slightly 1930s style here (forgive this confusion of decades), and it continues in the 128 bedrooms which boast much wood, reddish tones and significant comfort.
Up on the roof
The deluxe ones also have terraces, so you might look down on Nice as you sip your aperitif with a loved one. In place of startling design touches is a sense of things done professionally - adequate space and large, quality beds, multi-channel TVs, mini-bars, armchairs and, in deluxe rooms, tea and coffee-making materials. This is, in short, a good place to return to after the exactions of a day of leisure. The staff are particularly welcoming and helpful.
There is, of course, a spa, for those who need saunas, hammams, fitness equipment and that sort of thing. I don’t, so the real plus as far as I’m concerned is the roof-top terrace. Here, on what is the eighth floor, we find a fine little pool – heated by solar energy – and a Jacuzzi. We find Le Transat Bar where you may sip another aperitif while looking over Nice and away to the Alps.
And we find the Chez Hugo restaurant which, after your third aperitif, will feed you good Mediterranean fare at prices which, for a four-star, verge on the reasonable. I mean, €22 for three courses. Right now, I can’t think of many other four-stars where you can have a full meal for 20 quid – and the views come for free.
If, nevertheless, you don’t fancy eating there, there are plenty of other restaurants nearby. The sands are 400 yards away - and the Splendid has special deals with Le Sporting private beach. And the old town may be reached with a 15 minute amble. If you’re leading an African delegation, I wouldn’t think twice. It’s a decent choice for the rest of us, too.