SAINT JEAN CAP FERRAT, FRANCE, May 28, 2018: The Hotel Royal-Riviera is an exceptionally lovely 5 star luxury resort located at the entrance to the tony enclave of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat along the Cote d’Azure just outside of Nice in Beaulieu sur Mer. This gorgeously stellar member of Leading Hotels of the World is an art deco masterwork whose towering edifice graces the edge of the Mediterranean Sea.
Hotel Royal-Riviera – Elegance defined
It has 78 elegant rooms in a signature salmon pink building built in 1904. The Royal-Riviera has been the resort destination of choice in the South of France for over a century.
Its very name, Royal-Riviera, encapsulates the essence of the hotel. Royally stunning, having hosted kings and potentates, celebrities and aristocrats, it is a landmark part of the French Riviera.
Hotel Royal-Riviera is located right at the entrance to Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, one of the most exclusive enclaves of the wealthiest people on earth. The hotel property sprawls across several acres with its own private beach.
The entrance towers 5 stories over the road through Beaulieu sur Mer. Its gleaming name, Royal-Riviera, is emblazoned on the roof and over the front entrance.
Hotel Royal-Riviera – The lobby and bar area
The lobby is a glorious tribute to the 1930s. Green brocade cloth covers the walls of the sparkling reception desk, giving way to a yellow and maroon colored sitting room.
Stunning décor under 20 foot ceilings are set around marble columns suspended in the middle of the room.
To one side is the elegant bar area, all dark woods and plush seating in a cozy atmosphere. It has a tangible air of refinement and class.
A sitting room at the end of the bar holds a series of settees in an atmosphere that would make Greta Garbo comfortable in the golden age of Hollywood.
Hotel Royal-Riviera: restaurant La Table du Royal
The restaurant La Table du Royal is at the other side of the lobby opposite the bar. This gorgeously designed room has cream colored walls set against wood paneling.
16 round tables with stylish red chairs spread out across two rooms of a moderate size. The atmosphere is a palatial but intimate setting, where dinner is served year round.
A large extended terrace sits just off the dining room of the restaurant under a brown, white and gold striped canopy. It has two rows of 12 tables extending down the length of the terrace.
In summer months or on warm days dinner is served here. The terrace has views of the property, the private beach next to the hotel, and the azure Mediterranean Sea.
Royal-Riviera: The Staff
The hotel staff is impeccable, greeting each guest like returning family. Deputy Manager Eric Perbet is a genial energetic man with a commanding presence.
Marketing Director Sophie Valette makes sure every need has been arranged ahead of time with a precision and consideration that is particularly admirable.
Chef de Reception Nina Vallet is a strikingly lovely woman who attends to every detail of a guests needs. The Hotel concierge and all the staff are fluent in English, and are immeasurably helpful.
Hotel Royal-Riviera: the pool and grounds
Just outside the back entrance to the lobby is a large, beautifully sculpted heated swimming pool. Its mosaic tile sparkles through the water. Its terrace is lined with reclining chairs in an atmosphere of decadent relaxation.
The lunch restaurant, Jasmin Grill and Lounge, sits in a large glass enclosed pavilion next to the swimming pool. This casual restaurant has an open design and a bar in the middle the room. It is the prefect place for a long midday meal, or a drink after swimming in the pool.
A large lawn at the north end of the property spreads out around the main building. The entire grounds are deceptively large, several acres in all, and laid out with admirable design and décorous splendor.
Villa Orangerie, a gleaming yellow two story building just beyond the pool, holds additional rooms and suites. This gives privacy and seclusion for guests who don’t wish to be in the main building.
Royal-Riviera: The Junior Suite
The spacious junior suite on the second floor, room 116, is stunningly gorgeous. Cream colored walls filled with art deco furniture give way to a large terrace overlooking the pool and property.
It is an extraordinary vista, with an air of Gatsby or F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is easy to imagine Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda as guests of the hotel during the 1920’s.
A massive king size bed fills one end of the suite. A white plaster design of palm trees is set into the wall above the silver headboard. Lounge chairs await occupants through the French doors on the large terrace.
Distinctive lamps, artistic mirrors, and art deco lounges and couches complete the furnishings. The room has all the modern conveniences, but harkens back to a golden age of grand hotels in design and styling. It is serenely wonderful.
A massive bathroom with both a large rain shower stall and a deep bathtub is accented by double sinks. It also has its own balcony overlooking the pool.
Rose pink marble lines the floors, walls, and countertops. A separate make up enclave with a marble covered table sits just off to one side of the balcony.
All the rooms in the hotel have similar stylings and design, with similarly opulent art deco furnishings. The junior suite with its own terrace is particularly impressive in both its scope and size, with extraordinary views to match.
Royal-Riviera: Dining at La Table du Royal
Dinner at La Table du Royale is a grand affair under the watchful gaze of Restaurant director Jean-Claude Piselli. A distinguished and sophisticated man, he orchestrates the evenings proceedings with aristocratic calm and good humor.
Chef Bruno Le Bolch creates an innovative menu that is an excursion through the Haute Cuisine of the French Riviera.
He is assisted in the developing the menu by Michelin starred Chef Alain Parodi. The selections change regularly with the seasons, and Chef Le Bolch brings his own flair to an array of classic dishes.
It is a warm evening, so dinner is served on the terrace tonight under sunny skies and a gleaming canopy of gold, brown and white. The length of the terrace is filled with guests on a glorious evening along the Cote d’Azure.
The Mediterranean Sea is lapping along the shore of the private beach just yards away. A beautiful evening begins with an aperitif of Louis Roederer Cuvee 2012 pink champagne.
La Table du Royal: dinner begins
Jabugo Bellota Spanish Ham, carved tableside right from the bone, is a fabulous first course. A generous portion of thinly sliced ham is dark ruby red in color.
The flavor is luscious, slightly salty, but a succulent taste treat. Aged and cured, and similar to a Smithfield Ham, it is an exciting and different opening salvo in an exquisite evening.
Our server, Roman Le Bellel, has been with the restaurant for four seasons. Just 28 years old, he has an impeccable manner with an easy sense of humor. Roman is charming as he guides us through each course with meticulous attention to detail.
Green spring asparagus on an organic fried egg with creamy morel mushrooms is a wonderfully different take on the parade of asparagus served throughout this journey through the South of France.
The morel and sauce are an earthy counterpoint to the deliciously fresh asperge. The fried egg adds a delightfully innovative flavor profile that elevates the dish far beyond the ordinary.
La Table du Royal: Langoustine and wine
Langoustine with peas and spring onion in a pea puree vallette with grapefruit and candied lemon is lusciously outstanding.
The Langoustine is perfectly cooked, subtle, tender, and meaty. The sauce is exemplary. The dish is consumed voraciously until every spoonful of sauce has been devoured and the bottom sopped with olive bread.
Sommelier Jerome Pellistier accompanies the meal with a truly wonderful 2008 Brane Contenac 2nd growth Margaux from the Bordeaux region.
This prestigious cuvee from just south of Pauliac is flawlessly full bodied yet delicate. It opens with light tannins and flowers beautifully over the next three hours.
A fantastic selection, as it blossoms it exposes its subtle blend of primarily Cabernet grape, blended with a small amount of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
La Table du Royal: Wild shrimp carpaccio and octopus with gnocchi
A carpaccio of wild shrimp with lemon zest, Royal osetra caviar, shellfish jelly and parsley exemplifies the innovative hand of Chef Le Bolch.
Brilliantly delicate and tasty, the carpaccio is spread across the plate. Each dainty forkful fills the mouth with awe. It is a different approach to shrimp that sets La Table du Royale apart from its lauded contemporaries.
Octopus with potato gnocchi, creamy celery, grilled salsify, and raw artichoke with anchovies is a tour de force of exquisite taste and refined Haute Cuisine.
A generous portion of beautiful octopus is ridiculously tender.
The blend of ingredients is a taste sensation that is as original as it is fantastic.
La Table du Royal: the main courses
Risotto of Carnaroli rice, artichokes, and squid with pepper and lemon is a tantalizing main course. It entices the palette with its subtly measured genius of combined flavors and textures.
The risotto is richly sumptuous and perfectly cooked. The squid accents the delicate flavor of the artichokes. It is offset by a light creamy texture, and a cutting accent of lemon and pepper as a counterstroke.
A trio of lamb chop, saddle of lamb, and lamb sweetbreads is a tour de force of fine dining. Served with stuffed tomato and onion, artichoke and fried chickpeas, this mélange of lamb tantalizes and delights.
Cooked beautifully and showing off the full range of meaty flavors, it is perfectly complemented by the Chateau Brane Contenac, now in full flower.
The texture of the lamb is counterbalanced by the variety of tastes between the sweetbreads, the saddle, the chop, and the wine. It is a protean journey through a quartet of divinity.
La Table du Royal: Fromage and dessert
There is just enough wine left to accompany a fantastic fromage course. A trio of cow, sheep, and goat cheeses from across France are selected from an abundant cart holding an array of fresh cheeses.
Grand Marnier souffle with orange sorbet is a classic desert course. It is particularly well done here at La Table du Royal. A fluffy interior under a perfect crust typifies this grandest of French traditional desserts.
A collection of sorbets finishes a meal that has been as memorable as it has been innovative. Service throughout the meal is exemplary, sophisticated, and casually elegant.
Between the setting, the cuisine and the service, an evening at La Table du Royal is an impeccable culinary excursion through the glory of Chef Le Bloch’s enchanting and innovative Haute Cuisine.
Breakfast in the morning is served in the back room just beyond the indoor dining room at La Table du Royal. The lovely town of Beaulieu sur Mer stretches along the Mediterranean above the private beach next to the hotel.
Hotel Royal-Riviera: Legends of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
Nearby, 500 yards away, is Villa Nellcote. This magnificent private mansion was where the Rolling Stones famously recorded Exile on Main Street back in 1971. Nellcote was purchased several years ago by a Russian oligarch for over 100 million euro.
Legendary in rock circles, it sits behind covered gates, away from public view. Villa Nellcote serves as a tribute to the many grand figures and massive fortunes that populate St. Jean Cap Ferrat and the Cote d’Azure.
Gazing across the pool and the property from the terrace of the Junior Suite, it is easy to imagine the ongoing glories of the Royal-Riviera, and the stories it could tell through the years.
As the Mediterranean laps gently on the beach below, it is impossible to escape the legacy of greatness all around. It is a feeling of immeasurable grandness, engulfed by the lasting grip of eternal beauty. This is the magic of the Cote d’Azure, and has made the Hotel Royal-Riviera a 5 star luxury resort destination to be truly adored.
Mountain view rooms start at around $300 a night in the off season, and $500 in the peak seasons. Superior Sea and Garden View rooms and Villa Orangerie rooms begin at $450 in the off season and $800 during the summer.
Deluxe Sea and Garden View Rooms in the main building and in Villa Orangerie are $580 in the off season and around $1100 a night during peak season. Junior Suites start at $850 a night in shoulder seasons, and $1400 a night during peak summer season.
Air France flies direct to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and from there to the rest of France and all of Europe from Washington, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a number of American cities.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal