Secret Hotels of the French Riviera
Where life is both sweet and salty, thanks to the Mediterranean breezes.
Hotel Brise Marine
On this terribly exclusive peninsula, where most homes have gates and names like Lotus or Mon Plaisir, a room rate that's less than your monthly salary is a true bargain. Amazingly, this gorgeous Italianate villa, just steps from town and around the corner from the prettiest beach, is relatively reasonable. Dating from 1878, the seaside mansion is encircled by a beautiful garden filled with palm, orange, and lemon trees, and bougainvillea; its various patios and terraces look out on the bright blue bay, the cliffs of the coastline, and, in the distance, Monaco and the Italian Alps. The 18 rooms are simply furnished with modern furniture and the occasional family armoire, but many share the amazing view, and a few have spacious balconies. Many of the guests have been coming here for years, some even for decades. "We've grown old together," says longtime owner Yves Maîtrehenry, who can be found on the premises with his wife, as well as various children and grandchildren. 58 avenue Jean Mermoz, 011-33/4-93-76-04-36, hotel-brisemarine.com, doubles $168-$187, closed November--January.
AND IF OUR TOP CHOICES ARE ALL BOOKED UP . . .
Hotel Paris-Rome: A family affair. Pleasant rooms, next to the water and near beaches. A 15-minute walk into town. 011-33/4-93-35-73-45, paris-rome.com, $83-$135.
Hotel Aiglon: Old mansion converted into an atmospheric, if stodgy, hotel. Lots of antiques, some frayed carpets, beautiful architectural details, and a pool. The bar/salon is right out of the belle epoque. 011-33/4-93-57-55-55, hotelaiglon.net, $123-$175.
Hotel de Provence: A small hotel 110 yards from the La Croisette promenade and just behind the massive Noga Hilton. The rooms are comfortable, the beds firm, and the amenities plentiful. 011-33/4-93-38-44-35, hotel-de-provence.com,$110-$123.
Ambassador Hotel: In a nice resort town, midway between Cannes and Saint-Tropez. A short walk to the beach. Relatively spacious rooms with high ceilings, wrought-iron bedsteads, and thick walls (most rooms don't have A/C). 011-33/4-98-11-82-00, $95-$110.
Hotel les Calanques: On the edge of a calanque, a rocky cove with a small beach. Out front is the coastal highway. Colorful rooms and cute wrought-iron fixtures. Most rooms have at least a partial sea view. 011-33/4-98-11-36-36, french-riviera-hotel.com, $102-$163.
Hotel Clair Logis: In a residential area a 10-minute walk from town. Lush garden. Cheaper rooms are very simple; decor improves as the price goes up. 011-33/4-93-76-51-81, hotel-clair-logis.fr, $108-$228.
Hotel Montfleuri: Elegant pool surrounded by tropical foliage. Pricier rooms have terraces; there are also ones for $115 with small balconies and lovely sea views. 011-33/4-94-55-75-10, bestwestern.com, $102-$222.
A FEW GENERAL TIPS ABOUT HOTELS IN THE REGION
Rates: Prices shown are for a double in highest season: Some hotels distinguish between "high" and "highest" seasons, and you may see prices doubled and even tripled mid-July to August (and during the Monaco Grand Prix in May). Likewise, many properties close during winter.
Rooms: A "mountain" view is often another way of saying the room looks out on the back of the hotel or onto the town. Ask for specifics. All these hotels have air-conditioned rooms, unless otherwise noted.
Breakfast: It's wise--and considerate--to let the front desk know the night before if you'll be taking breakfast. Having breakfast at the hotel adds $7-$14 per person (unless otherwise noted).
Taxes: They're fairly negligible--around $1.20 per person per night--and as a result, not usually included in published rates.