CAP ESTEL, FRANCE, July 6, 2018: Hotel Cap Estel is a stunningly gorgeous 5 star luxury hotel property on its own peninsula along the Mediterranean sea between the fabulously wealthy enclaves of Cap Ferrat and Monaco.
This astonishing member of Leading Hotels of the World is, without exaggeration, one of the most amazing luxury hotel properties any traveler could ever imagine to experience.
With only 28 outrageously luxurious rooms and 6 designer suites, it also features the exceptional Michelin starred restaurant La Table de Patrick Raingeard.
Hotel Cap Estel: The Location
Hotel Cap Estel is a boutique hotel that transcends all standards of greatness to exemplify its own unique universe in the pantheon of grand hotels.
Literally occupying an entire peninsula of land jutting into the Mediterranean, its location and creature comforts are an unparalleled journey into a sublime indulgence of the senses. There is simply nothing like it, anywhere.
Hotel Cap Estel is a gleaming white 5 story mansion halfway between Beaulieu sur Mer and Monte Carlo. It occupies 4 acres of land in Eze sur Mer at the base of towering cliffs thousands of feet high.
Driving into the property is like a visual hallucination, turning off the coastal highway resembling Big Sur and wondering where a property could exist.
Hotel Cap Estel: a World of its Own
There, on a promontory of land, an elegant mansion emerges like a vision of marble along a pounding ocean. The steep golden brick driveway leads to a breathtaking entranceway lined with Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Porches.
The lobby is compact, gleaming white marble leading to a simple reception desk where impeccable staff greets each guest with customary fanfare.
A sumptuously appointed lounge on one side just off the entrance is filled with cool grey furniture and floor to ceiling windows.
Throughout the hotel the motif of white marble and furnishings provide an overwhelming sense of grandeur and serenity, opulence and comfort.
The bar on the other side of the lounge is all dark woods and gleaming white walls, with a grand piano, lovely seating area, and a view to the tip of the peninsula.
Hotel Cap Estel: The Grounds
Sweeping marble stairs lead down two floors to a sprawling green lawn stretching out to a point of land. The hotel sits on a low cliffside, and is surrounded on three sides by the pounding Mediterranean Sea.
At the apex of the property is an infinity pool of immeasurable beauty, its edge dripping into eternity facing the sea and coast of Monaco in the distance.
In the central mansion there are 23 rooms and suites. Six luxury suites can be found in a stunning structure on the hillside just above the main mansion.
5 rooms are literally embedded into the cliffs beneath the great lawn at either end of the property, 3 just under the breakfast patio, and two next to the spa on the other side of the peninsula.
Their balconies cling precariously to the cliffside, dangling over the surging tide with views that are uniquely beautiful, wonderfully sublime.
Hotel Cap Estel: The Atmosphere
Towering cliffs loom over the property as far as the eye can see. Somewhere, thousands of feet in the sky above, the medieval town of Eze clings to the cliffs.
Sweeping across the ground floor is the Michelin starred restaurant La Table de Patrick Raingeard, where dinner is served in the evening.
Breakfast is served just outside the restaurant on a patio overlooking the thundering ocean. Lunch is served on the terrace on the edge of the sweeping lawn.
Hotel Cap Estel is the kind of hotel where travelers would have no reason or intention of leaving the property during the course of their stay. Its singular beauty is breath taking. Its location is unmeasurably incredible.
Hotel Cap Estel: The Room
The 2nd floor corner Junior suite is like a palace all by itself. Gorgeously decorated with creamy walls and white leather furniture, its 12 foot ceilings tower over marble floors and beige carpeting.
Not one but two massive terraces extend off in two directions through 4 sets of 8 foot French doors. The South terrace measures 20 by 15 feet, with a sitting table and chairs, and overlooks the great lawn and the infinity pool.
The West terrace, measuring 12 by 12 feet, features lounge chairs and views of the coastline and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat across the sea. Balustrades of white stone line the railing of each terrace. White marble tiles with black accents cover the terrace floors.
Soft white leather covers the headboard above the sumptuous king sized bed, the dressers, the mini bar, and the settee at the bottom of the bed. Fulsomely large closets just inside the entrance lead to a massive bathroom with heated floors, double sinks, and a large tub and rain shower of white marble.
Floor to ceiling gold silk taffeta curtains with horizontal ribbons of gold hues cover the French doors, and open and close at the touch of a button. The contrast of gold on white on beige on cream is wonderful, the effect dazzling.
A bottle of Louis Roederer Premier Brut champagne awaits in an ice bucket alongside two champagne glasses upon arrival. The room has the air of a royal palace along the sea.
Hotel Cap Estel: Paradise by the sea
The property is nothing short of astonishing. Vistas of beauty and splendor are abundant at every turn. A tennis court clings precariously between the cliffs and the sea.
Tables and patio nooks with incredible views are dotted throughout the property. The sense of wonderment is everywhere. The power of the hotel’s singular individuality and uniqueness as a special place is palpable.
The infinity pool is a central daytime gathering place clinging to the edge of the property, extending onto a sun terrace. Facing Monaco and the towering cliffs, it captures the imagination with its manifest beauty.
Hotel Cap Estel: The Sothys Spa
The comprehensive Sophys Spa facilities are located under the infinity pool in a labyrinth that only adds to the mystical quality of Hotel Cap Estel. A deep blue indoor pool at the entrance has a balcony over the pounding surf and the rocks below.
Manicures and beauty treatments are available in the main entrance to the spa. A full workout room has picture windows looking out over the Mediterranean.
Sophys Spa Manager Celine Massa is warm and talented, leading a crew of massage technicians who provide massages and a variety of treatments. A couples massage in the spa on a sunny afternoon is a brilliant prelude to a romantic afternoon of champagne on the terrace of the Junior suite overlooking the lawn.
Hotel Cap Estel: The History
Hotel Cap Estel has a long history, dating back to the 1890s. The first mansion was built on the property in 1911 and was renovated after WWII by legendary owner Robert Squarciafichi, who opened the hotel in 1951.
Hotel Cap Estel had its initial heyday in the 1950s and 60s, when it was the retreat of choice for an array of Hollywood stars, royalty, and titans of business.
The Beatles stayed here numerous times, both as a band and as individuals. Brian Epstein had visited with his family many times, and the band stayed here at the peak of their early fame in 1964.
Paul McCartney wrote the song Michelle while sitting poolside with his acoustic guitar. John Lennon and Yoko Ono honeymooned here after marrying in Gibraltar.
Jimmy Page was a frequent guest in the 70’s and 80s at the peak of Led Zeppelins fame. Bono from U2 has spent many visits here since the 1980s.
Princess Grace used to use the hotel as an overflow residence when the palace in Monaco was too full, and was known to come for lunch and dinner on occasion.
David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart and Lawrence Olivier were famous movie stars who were frequent guests in the 1950s. Dean Martin filmed the Matt Helm spy spoof Murderer’s Row here.
Hotel Cap Estel: The modern era begins
In 2000, 7 years after Mr. Squarciafichi died, the property was purchased by the Lewis family from South Africa. Several years of meticulous renovation followed to create the property as we know it today. Comparing pictures from 1911, through the 50s, and into the 80’s the basic elements of the property are intact. The new hotel opened in 2004.
The renovation added the infinity pool, spa, and current configuration of the rooms and suites, transforming a smaller and very beautiful hotel into the stunning palace by the sea it is today
The staff is precise and sophisticated, taking care to see to every whim of any guest. Communications Director Jihane Riahi is a superstar, arranging all the elements of a visit to take advantage of all the hotel has to offer.
Managing Director Eric Paulus is a genial and commanding presence orchestrating the complex affairs of the hotel and its guests. He has a witty sophistication and projects a clear air of profound appreciation for the history and magnificence of the property he is proud to manage.
Hotel Cap Estel: La Table de Patrick Raingeard
Dinner at La Table de Patrick Raingeard is a grand affair. Chef Raingeard has been at the hotel for 7 years, holding one Michelin star every year since his arrival.
He is a robust, powerful man with a warm personality. With a menu that changes daily, weekly and with the seasons, he creates stirringly original Haute Cuisine with his own personal stamp.
The dining room is on the ground floor of the hotel spreading out across the length of the building, covering the entire lower floor.
A glass enclosed wine room greets the diner at the entrance to the restaurant. A dangling crystal Calder inspired chandelier hangs at the reception table in the middle of the room.
La Table de Patrick Raingeard: The Restaurant
The floor is covered with black and white marble tiles forming an octagonal pattern across the restaurant. Floor to ceiling windows extend across the length of the restaurant with views of the great lawn and the outdoor terrace.
14 black lacquered tables fill the restaurant on either end of the chandelier, 7 on each side. The design and decor is consistently modernist. The walls are a creamy white.
Whimsical ceramic sculptures by artist Patrick Gibelli adorn each table, ranging from a pan pouring sauce, to a heart within a heart, to a raw carrot, to an anthurium flower, to a pair of floating lips.
Restaurant manager Greg Bouyssou is in his first season at Patrick Raingeard but steers the evening through a series of wonderful courses. The staff is young and precisely trained.
Sommelier Clement Gainche is 22 years old but already in his third year as sommelier at the restaurant. With a commanding knowledge, and exceptionally well trained, he pairs the wines with each course throughout a sumptuous meal.
Servers Lisa Turc, Emilie Gigaud and Charlotte Come are all dressed in Navy blue matching outfits with kerchiefs of red and blue. Together they are a formidable team that bring grace, beauty and knowledge to the evening.
La Table de Patrick Raingeard: The evening begins
The evening begins with a glass of R. Poullion pink champagne and a selection of amuse bouche under ceramic plates with interior lights for visual effect.
Southern clam ravioli caramelized with veal juice with walnut kernels and candied celery is an absolutely sensational opening course.
Beautifully original in presentation and taste the clams are crunchy from the walnuts and celery. The large ravioli fills the bottom of the plate with a salty, briny, smoky flavor.
The contrast of perfect ravioli, beautiful tender clams, and counterbalancing flavor profiles of walnuts and celery creates a wonderful sensation across the palette. Impressive and original, Chef Raingeard makes a searing opening statement with this fantastic dish.
The opening course is paired with a Domaine de la Mordoree 2014 Liral from the Rhone valley. Full bodied, with a minerality of a mature vintage, it is a perfect complement to the smoky, briny flavors of the ravioli.
La Table de Patrick Raingeard: Scorpion Fish
Scorpion fish with beet roots in a lemon pineapple jus is exceptional. Firm and flaky, with a tender crust, sumptuously flavored, the delicate fish is offset with the slight sweetness of red yellow beets, and the tangy counterpoint of the lime and pineapple jus.
A Domaine Gavoty 2014 Cuvee Clarendon from Provence is paired with the scorpion fish. Light and balanced, it is made from the Rolle grape, the exceptional signature of white wines from Provence.
Clean and crisp, it accentuates the flavor of the fish, works in concert with the beet root, and contrasts beautifully with the lemon pineapple jus to cut through the tangy flavor.
La Table de Patrick Raingeard: Sweetbreads
The main courses reach a climax with roasted veal sweetbreads and potatoes with a Piedmont hazelnut cracker in a salsify with pomegranate vinegar. The luscious sweetbreads are perfectly cooked, with a firm outer crust and a rich juicy interior.
Not too thick, and in just the right portions, Chef Raingeard shows his culinary genius in the preparation of this signature dish that captures the imagination with its seasoned perfection.
Paired with a Cheateau Corton 2014 Mersault, this creamy full-bodied Chardonnay wine cuts across the meaty profile of the sweetbreads. With a clean finish, but a large flavor, sweetbreads are one of the occasions where a powerful white wine is preferable to a more traditional red wine pairing.
La Table de Patrick Raingeard: Fromage and dessert
A fromage course is a beautiful exploration of a selection of cow, goat and sheep cheeses. The cheese cart is filled with an abundant variety of exceptional small batches from select farms. This classic finale to any grand meal in France is an inescapable necessity.
Pear with pepper timut is a wonderful opening dessert. It is followed by a beautifully cooked classic Souffle with old rum and aloe vera sorbet.
Dinner comes to a close as three hours have passed in pastoral glory. La Table de Patrick Raingeard is a chance to experience the cuisine of a master chef working in his element in stunningly beautiful surroundings.
Hotel Cap Estel: a vision above the sea
Breakfast the next morning is served on the terrace overlooking the sea. The sky is a blazing deep blue as the surf pounds against the rocks below us.
Made to order scrambled eggs, thick bacon, and an egg white souffle are complemented with fresh yoghurt, berries, steaming coffee, chocolate croissants, and the ambience of a morning in paradise.
The cliffs of the Mediterranean rise like a granite steeple thousands of feet above the serene peninsula of Hotel Cap Estel. The sun is ablaze in a searing blue sky as another day begins. There is no end to the stunning vistas, no moment that is anything short of beautiful.
Two days fly by in a grand escape to a romantic adventure in a world of its own. On this and every other day Hotel Cap Estel seems closer to heaven on earth than ever before.
Leading Hotels of the World www.lhw.com @ LeadingHotels
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Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds. @BigAlPeoplesPal