The uber chic Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat opened its doors in 1908 and instantly became the undisputed grande dame of the French Riviera.
To say no other hotel on the strip today can challenge that status would be wrong, but most notable is the unwavering reputation for excellence this hotel has boasted and maintained for over 100 years. Several years ago, a major refurb was needed, and so investment poured in with almost every inch undergoing a transformation and a contemporary new wing, The Residence, was added. And new management, in the form of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, brought their finely tuned operational skills to this iconic palace hotel.
Often topping many travellers’ hit lists, the hotel boasts a unique combination of history, impeccable service and beautiful surroundings. Yet for all this, it’s not a stuffy place, in fact it’s very relaxed. If you like to rock up to dinner in your designer jeans and LV loafers, that’s just fine. And bring the kids, the hotel is relaxed enough (and has the space) for them to run about without causing chaos.
So you may ask is there anything at all that casts a shadow on this hotel utopia? There is perhaps one question you might ponder and that is, “Am I getting a truly French Riviera experience or is it more perhaps Four Seasons’ interpretation of what that experience should be?” No matter how you may answer, one thing’s for sure, like so many guests before you that have fallen under the hotel’s magical spell over the past 109 years, you will too.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Spa credit
- US$100 spa credit to be used during your stay
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
- Detailed Review +
- Facts & Amenities +
Not for the faint-hearted is the narrow roadway that leads to the hotel entrance, but it’s worth the palpitations for once you pass through the gates a truly elegant and sophisticated world awaits you.
My car had hardly stopped moving when staff appeared to assist. They knew my name and used it to welcome me, before escorting me into the lobby lounge where a refreshing drink was waiting. Within moments, I was checked in and the facilities of the property explained, any special requests noted, restaurant reservations sorted, and I was escorted to my room posthaste.
Room and suites
Most would say that if you are going to stay at one of the world’s iconic seaside hotels, always opt for a sea-view room. I would normally have agreed with this mantra until I walked into my allocated terrace suite, without a view but with its private pool. These sanctuaries are, as it turns out, spectacular, and actually have a partial sea view, for the record.
I was in the newest wing, The Residence, located just next door to the main heritage building where the architecture is ultra-modern but still in keeping with the original surroundings. The extensive use of cream terrazzo marble, beautiful curved walls of walnut and an exterior palette of creams, sand tones and white, is enticing. This zen-like building houses the hotel’s terrace and pool suites (as well as Le Spa), and sits amongst beautifully manicured gardens with sea views beyond the pine trees.
But it’s inside these 83m² (893ft²) suites with their 30m² (323ft² ) terraces where the real action is. My living room consisted of white lacquered furniture, a large super comfortable couch, an armchair and a chaise lounge. And should I have had guests come by to enjoy this sleek space, there was an ultra-modern dining table, large enough to seat four comfortably.
The bedroom was no less stylish, a haven of calm and tranquillity. Featuring a Four Seasons signature, king-size bed with oceans of soft, fluffy bedding, I slept like a baby both blissful nights I was here. There was plenty of personal space with a separate walk-in wardrobe and even more storage and hanging space in the bathroom. Furnishings were in natural earth tones and bronzes, with mirrored side tables, teak wood floors, and lights in all the right places. These bedrooms are a lesson in well-planned, quiet and wonderfully restful spaces—exactly what a luxury hotel should deliver to its guests.
And prepare to be wowed by the piece de resistance of this style suite, the large terrace which boasts a huge and heated private pool, the size you would expect to find at a property in the Maldives, not Europe. Sliding doors from the living room onto the deck roll back and disappear, turning the entire area into an indoor/outdoor living space.
Lighting is excellent with a combination of stylish lamps and halogen spotlights, all of which are operated by easy-to-use switches. Curtains and drapes within the suite are electronically controlled.
My living room featured a 52-inch HDTV with multiple language satellite and movie-on-demand channels. Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel was fast and did not drop out, and for those guests who require a more rocket-powered option, there is an ungraded Wi-Fi package available for a fee.
The requisite white and grey veined marble, so loved by many hotels, makes an appearance on the twin basin vanity top, in the WC, shower and around the freestanding bathtub. However, all this blends very well with the more rustic terrazzo marble floors and the art deco style light, polished woods of the closet units. Lighting is very well thought out, ample mirrors abound, including a multi-angle full stand-up mirror (not necessarily a good thing) and a well-located hairdryer outlet.
A large, clear glass panel makes the whole space feel very open and divides the bedroom and bathroom. However, more modest guests need not despair as wooden plantation shutters glide across the glass panel offering complete privacy.
A range of Hermes toiletries in rather small and ungenerous bottles are provided, however were never replaced and it became a game of cat and mouse with housekeeping to get more.
As I visited early in the season, the hotel’s signature restaurant, Le Cap, was not yet open, and therefore lunch and dinner was served in the La Veranda restaurant. Overlooking the hotel’s beautiful terrace and gardens with vistas out over the Mediterranean, the menu is very modern Mediterranean with lots of perfectly prepared seafood, vegetables and pasta dishes, as well as some excellent meat and poultry offerings.
For dinner, I went with the carpaccio of beetroot with poached shrimp as a starter. The beetroot was perfectly prepared and served with crunchy walnuts and warm goat’s cheese. The shrimp was perfectly poached and delicious.
My main course consisted of roasted veal loin with artichoke and garden vegetables. The veal was perfectly pink and the artichokes well cooked and tasty. The other vegetables, whilst quite colourful, were rather boring and tasteless. But the wine list made up for it with some great offerings which, while pricey, were well worth splashing out on.
Service was absolutely on point, casual and welcoming and not at all stuffy. Families aplenty on their Easter break, the environment was relaxed and enjoyable for all dining here.
Breakfast is served on the terrace and features all the usual breakfast buffet essentials, elegantly presented rather than piled high, along with hot dishes that can be ordered à la carte. Be warned though, guests all seem to want to have breakfast at 10 am, so go slightly earlier or you may have to wait for a table.
Spa and wellness
Le Spa, like everything else here, leaves nothing to chance. White-on-white design along with all the usual fitness offerings, it also features a heated, indoor pool. Treatment rooms are relaxing and suitably zen-like. The range of body treatments, facials and massages is extensive, with a focus on the use of Provencal herb-based oils as well as the products from Swiss anti-ageing specialist, Dr Burgener.
I went with a 90-minute aromatherapy massage using herb-based oils. It was one of the best aromatherapy massages I have ever had. The therapists here are very skilled so don’t expect a light-touch vanilla approach. When it’s all over, you will quite literally float out of the treatment room in a state of bliss.
No luxury hotel spa is shy about their charges and this is no exception. Having said that, I felt I got excellent value for money. So good was my experience that I booked a facial for the next day.
Pool and beach
You might think that one of the most famous hotels on the French Riviera would have a rather wonderful beach but you’d be wrong. In fact, there’s no beach at all. There is, however, a swimming platform down near the rocks but getting there requires you to take your life in your own hands and risk being thrown upon razor-sharp rocks so I suggest you don’t do it.
Instead, the star of the aquatic show is the hotel’s famous Club Dauphin. Built in 1914, literally on top of the rocks right next to the Mediterranean, it features the hotel’s 33-metre infinity pool that is heated year-round to 28℃. Here there is no lack of Riviera glamour, with sun parasols surrounding the pool, the Club Dauphin restaurant, and a selection of private cabana’s dotted about the surrounds.
Whatever you do, don’t leave home without your Hermes flip-flops.
Believe it or not, the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat does indeed have a kids’ club, a rather good one from all accounts.
Located at Club Dauphin, the area provides themed chalets, outdoors activities, video games, a cartoon collection, a mini lighthouse, a see-saw boat, a crab spring-rider, slides, and a rope bridge. Children can play all the latest tech games, join colouring competitions, or watch cartoons inside a submarine.
There’s also a paddling pool, ideal preparation for swimming lessons with none other than the famous (if somewhat elderly) Pierre Gruneberg, who has been teaching at the hotel since 1951.
Staff and service
Managed by the venerable Four Seasons Hotels whose hallmark is their staff training, there were no errors in service during my stay. The team was professional and helpful at all times; they were attentive, knew their jobs, and could determine when to engage with guests and when to leave them be. When I asked if my private pool could have some leaves removed, the maintenance team was there within minutes with a pool vacuum and, in anticipation, also a branch trimmer, so that the overhanging branches could be gently trimmed and the leaf problem didn’t repeat itself.
Yet whilst the service here borders on faultless, it is not particularly spontaneous with staff seeming to be walking on eggshells. Did I look threatening?
During my stay, it was somewhat of a UN of guests from everywhere including African nations, the USA, UK and Russia, but the overwhelming majority were French enjoying some time on the Riviera before the crowds arrive for summer.
Like everything else in this well-oiled machine, check out was a breeze with one exception. I required a taxi to take me to another location—not complicated—however it took no less than three people to organise this event. Parlez-vous français?
How to get there
40 minutes by road from Nice Airport
74 rooms & suites