Nice is glorious.
There really is no other word for it. It’s a city steeped in the traditions of French art, culture and cuisine, and given its location along the riviera between Cannes and Monaco, it’s a part of the world that attracts the rich, the famous and the culture obsessed.
And for good reason, too.
Whether it’s the Tour de France 2020, the Carnival de Nice or simply the fresh ocean breeze that sweeps in from the Mediterranean sea, there are a plethora of reasons to visit Nice at any point during the year. One big reason is to visit the famed Hotel Le Negresco.
In this blog post, we share a little history about the Hotel Le Negresco, and why we think it’s worth the trip.
A brief history of the Hotel Le Negresco
The Hotel Le Negresco was constructed in 1912 by Henri Negresco, a Romanian hotelier. Negresco, who was a director of the Municipal Casino at the time, had the idea to build a lavish hotel that would attract the wealthiest of clients, clients who would bring with them money to play at his casino.
After raising capital, Negresco hired Édouard-Jean Niermans – the innovative architect responsible for the ‘café society’ – to design the hotel, and Niermans pointed his creative finger and built the tall pink dome that today stands as the shining feature in Nice’s sun-soaked skyline.
Who owns Hotel Le Negresco?
In 1957, the Hotel Le Negresco was sold to the Augier family, and Madame Jeanne Augier – the eccentric hotelier – turned this forgotten gem into a must-visit destination for the rich and glamorous. She decided that every hotel room should have mink bedspreads, and there are suites dedicated to butterflies, Napoleon and King Louis XIV.
The Salon Royal is arguably the most peculiar room in the building, and it is home to the sexy shapes of Nana Jaune by Niki de Saint Phalle. By all definitions, the Hotel Le Negresco is as eccentric and quirky as the owner herself.
During the hotel’s height, Madame Augier entertained guests like The Beatles, Picasso, Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Cocteau, and Elton John used it in the music video for ‘I’m Still Standing’.
Unfortunately, in January 2019 Madame Augier passed away, and as wished for, the Hotel Le Negresco was donated to a foundation for animals and the poor. No, this doesn’t mean Nice’s prized procession is now an animal shelter. But what it does mean is that the hotel’s profits now go towards funding charities that look after homeless people and unwanted animals.
If you’re looking for a reason to visit, then, this is it: The hotel, while lavish, does a lot of good for a lot of people.
A safe place: Hotel Le Negresco as a hospital
The Hotel Le Negresco has had an interesting past.
On more than one occasion, it was commandeered and used as a hospital to house the wounded. In fact, during World War One, the hotel was temporarily converted into a hospital and Negresco himself even offered to pay for the upkeep of 100 beds for the wounded. After the war was over, Negresco was bankrupt and the hotel was doomed (he later returned to Paris and died shortly after).
The hotel was again converted into a field hospital during the 2016 attack on the Promenade des Anglias.
The hotel in contemporary times
Today, the Hotel Le Negresco serves as one of Nice’s main attractions. The rich and famous still vacate to Nice and stay at this hotel, indulging in the legacy built by Negresco and Madame Augier.
Opposite the hotel is a private beach and gym for guests only, and the fifth floor is entirely reserved for VVIPs (that’s ‘very, very important persons’).
In 2003, the building was listed by the Government as a National Historic Building, and it’s currently one of the leading hotels in the world.
The hotel is also home to the famed restaurant Le Chantecler, which has two Michelin stars. It’s a restaurant decorated in keeping with the hotel’s quirky nature. There’s even Gobelins on the walls and rococo furniture in untraditional colours like pink, lemon and lime.
If you’re visiting Nice, we recommend adding the Hotel Le Negresco to your list of must-see places to visit.
Just remember to bring your best pink suit, you’re going to need it.