Hyatt Regency Palais de la Mediterranée Review, Nice


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F Scott Fitzgerald eulogized about the colors of the sea and the sky here on the Côte d’Azur where he stayed to write The Great Gatsby. Visiting in June, you could see why. The mimosa in full bloom in beautiful Place Garibaldi, the little red roofs of the villages around the Golfe Juan, provide a stunning tapestry of color set against this vibrant palette of aquamarine and lapis tinted bay. There is so much to do and see in Nice and on the Côte d’Azur, from parks and gardens to architecture to art galleries and theatre. The music scene is as cool and varied as the shopping and includes the annual Jazz festival on Golfe Juan. The shopping is out of this world and includes everything from the weekly bric-a-brac market through serious antiques and collectibles to every top designer label under the sun if you go down the coast to Cannes.

Le Palais has been at the center of life on the Promenade des Anglais, Baie des Anges, for almost a century. It has been a glittering ballroom and a casino before its rebirth as the Hyatt Regency Palais de la Mediterranée. Everyone who was anyone during France’s golden age of culture has stayed, played, or performed here, from Edith Piaf to Yves Montand and Johnny Hallyday. Remodeled and reopened as a hotel in 2004, le Palais retains its Art Deco, classically inspired façade. Within the shell, though, there now exists a separate world of luxury befitting its prime location on the Côte d’Azur. Beyond the beautiful and cool lobby lies an excellent hotel in one of the world’s premier locations. We spent a weekend assessing the hotel in late June as the high season was getting underway.

So, what about the hotel? There are two designs apparent in the guest rooms at Hyatt Regency Nice. Both are contemporary takes on the Art Deco origins of Le Palais, but they have separate designers. We liked the warm tones of the fabrics in the slightly older design, which are a little richer than the more northern European and slightly spare designs in the other, more recently refurbished rooms. At 45 sqm, the Deluxe King is a generous room. There are sea view and city view rooms, and really, a sea view is a must here, so be sure to specify. We would also recommend asking for a high floor (9th is highest and best) as the facade impedes the sea view more on the lower floors. All sea view rooms enjoy a balcony, which is just the best place in the world for breakfast. There are some amazing feature suites, and the 9th-floor suites have terraces with stunning panoramic views.

In-house dining options here are simple. There is one bar/lounge and a restaurant adjacent to the terrace on the third floor. When the weather allows, which is often, this is one of the best views you’ll find from a hotel poolside terrace bar. The color of the bay is simply magical, and the terrace is serene beneath the arches of the Art Deco façade. Inside, the restaurant is beautiful, and its warm tones create a cosseting ambiance perfect for romantic evenings. The indoor bar is equally atmospheric and a perfect place to enjoy Champagne and canapés any time of day. As there is no Regency Club here, diamond members of Hyatt Gold Passport staying receive a complimentary drink with a generous limit – we chose Tattinger bubbles.

Pool & Fitness
In terms of leisure facilities, Hyatt Regency Nice has a beautiful terrace on the third-floor level. It houses a large free-form swimming pool which is part indoor and part outdoor with a communicating channel so that you can swim between the two. The outdoor pool terrace and bar is a very cool place to sit and sip champagne and cocktails, overlooking the promenade. There is also a fitness room equipped with good quality equipment, although it is quite small. When we viewed it, there was only one person using it, and it is fine by general 5 Star hotel standards. Separately located on the third floor is a sauna and steam room (not a Hammam as the hotel claims). It was strange that these were tucked away here, and we can’t imagine many guests using them. Having expected a Turkish-style Hammam, we were disappointed.

As the hotel is branded as a Regency (one of Hyatt’s lower categories), we had modest expectations. We were very surprised, indeed delighted both by the hotel’s location, the rooms, the service standards, and Nice as a destination. We are not misty-eyed Francophiles. We generally like northern European culture and Southeast Asian standards of service and are irritated by the gallic shrug and insouciance. The fact we fell in love with Hyatt Regency Nice, and the city of Nice in general therefore speaks volumes. We have already booked our next visit. Need I say more?

That is not to say there were no issues with our stay. Negotiating a late check-out was a tedious affair and required chasing on our part. The lack of even a simple kettle in the room was disappointing, and the room service dinner seemed overpriced (admittedly we ordered off-menu, but €26 EUR for a chicken breast seemed very high and was more than almost all whole meals on the menu – we had to pay extra for salad and fries). However, the hotel’s setting in the lovely city of Nice is the perfect location for a weekend away, and there are plenty of decent bistros a short stroll away. It looks as though we’ll be spending a little more time in France over the coming years.

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