Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc is synonymous in my mind with one of English history’s most notable events: Edward VIII’s abdication. For this was his bolthole with Wallis when he left England. And so I had always assumed that somewhere so ‘celeb’, with royals, their entourage and the Hollywood set staying here, wouldn’t be the kind of place I could relax and enjoy myself. How wrong I was.
Indeed, it is glamorous to the hilt, yet chic and understated. Walking around the grounds the evening of my arrival, I dreamily anticipated I might spot F Scott Fitzgerald, Kirk Douglas or Liz Taylor about to set off in a Riva for a spin along the coast to Cannes.
Dreams aside, the hotel has two buildings where rooms are located: the original Hotel du Cap and the Eden-Roc Pavilion. I love the nautical feel of the Pavilion, whilst the du Cap is more ‘country home’ in style. With only 116 rooms and suites, getting a booking in July and August is not an easy feat.
But if you do, you will be spoiled no end, and definitely in terms of food in the two beautifully situated restaurants, one more formal than the other, both perched directly over the sea looking out at the tip of the Cap D’Antibes.
Children, too, are well catered for here. The kids’ club is complimentary, a classy touch which I consider a warm welcome to multi-generational families, many who have been coming back here year in and year out whilst growing in numbers. Whatever you do, persevere if the hotel is full when you try to book, as outside of July and August you may be able to get your foot in the door and be on your way to becoming a fêted regular, something that is well worth the wait.
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Entering through the large, electric gates, I marveled at the stunning gardens, manicured within an inch of their lives. Pulling up to the entrance, I was greeted by the bellman who ushered me out of the car. He knew who I was; I was impressed.
I was welcomed again at the front desk and all checked in within minutes. The hotel manager arrived to say hello before I was shown directly to my room, located very near the reception. Such a greeting, I noted later, is the norm here.
Rooms and suites
While I wasn’t sure I liked the location of Suite 18 before seeing it, the suite is a stunning room and its situation has some advantages. Located at the centre of the hotel, it has one of the nicest terraces and a view right over the colonnades of the hotel balcony, down the promenade and out over the sea; a smaller version of the grounds at Versailles. At around round 45 m2 (484 ft²) in size, the suite actually feels much larger due to the high ceilings within.
The colours scheme here is very floral and all in cream, with mint-green striped wallpaper and lots of flowers everywhere, all in keeping with the somewhat retro style of hotel. The best aspect of this suite is the terrace: massive with sun loungers and a table and chairs. Note, however, that the area is not strictly private.
Within the suite were lots of storage options, from hanging wardrobes to drawers and shelves. Slippers and flip-flops are provided for use around the pool. There is a mini-bar in the vestibule, fully stocked, with soft drinks, wines and beer. No coffee or tea facilities can cause a certain amount of stress to some, however, I was told it was possible to request the same when booking. Noted.
It is a bit of a gamble as to where your accommodation will be located; you could be situated in either building, so ask ahead. Personally, I prefer the Eden-Roc Pavilion, purely because I love being up close to the sea, and these rooms make you feel you are on a yacht, the water is that close.
The technology here is impressive and I enjoyed the use of the large flat-screen TV and the Apple TV system attached. I connected my iPad easily through Airplay. The USB sockets were great for charging phones and other devices, just not while I was trying to use the TV, as a message box popped up and obscured my view of the programme.
Traditional sockets were a bit lacking, so I unplugged table lights.
It’s worth noting that the hotel also has two, three-bedroom villas available, one within the grounds and another off the property in nearby Juan-les-Pins.
Traditional in style, the bathroom is all marble with a large bath tub and a separate walk-in shower with a rainfall shower head. There is a large vanity unit with two sinks and ample surrounding space in which to stash your stuff. There are mirrors galore in here, so many that the room resembles a star’s dressing room, with Hollywood-style lighting down each side of the vanity mirror and a shaving/makeup mirror to the side.
As in several of the other hotels within the Oetker Collection, amenities are from the English company Bamford and are 100% organic. In generous 100ml sizes, products were situated both by the bath and in the shower.
There are many beautiful restaurants in hotels all around the world, but this restaurant, Eden-Roc Grill has a special place in my heart. Informally designed with wooden floors and tables and with crisp, white linen everywhere else, the restaurant feels modern yet historic in style.
Nautical in theme, the exceedingly efficient staff here wear navy and cream striped long-sleeve T-shirts and cream coloured trousers. With endless views over the azure waters toward the Lérins Islands, it’s a magical spot.
Like the views, the food is sublime. I opted for a simple caprese salad which was anything but simple, as it came with some beautifully sweet Noire de Crimée tomatoes. Anticipating another big meal ahead that night, I passed on the heavily laden crustacean bar with all of the enticing fresh seafood on display.
Other restaurant options
As I checked-in quite late in the day, I decided to order room service for dinner and a drink from the bar. I was asked if I wanted the drink brought straight away – which I did – and informed that my dinner would arrive within 30 minutes.
Five minutes later, I was relaxing with my drink in hand and, on queue, my dinner arrived within 25 minutes. After which, at my request, my ice cream arrived 30 minutes later. Impeccable service that’s hard to beat.
Spa and wellness
The gym, while small, is kitted-out with the latest Technogym equipment.
The spa, a secluded haven, uses Sisley as a brand, or if you chose to have a treatment done in one of the cabanas, the Bamford range of organic products.
Pool and beach
Ah, the tales this pool could tell… A big part of the iconic history of the hotel, the pool was blasted out of the rock here in 1914 and with improvements over the years, it’s now a gorgeous infinity edge design, with a sunbathing platform above.
Oddly enough, the hotel has been hailed as the #1 best beach property, and yet it does not have an actual beach. But the pool and the sunbathing area are right on the waters’ edge, with ladders and a pontoon with access into the sea below. It is a great diving or jumping area, reminiscent of days gone by before we were all safety crazed.
For those seeking a great day out, then take a cabana, decadent at around €500 for the day. Gorgeous and newly remodelled, these remain as simple inside as they were back in the 1950s when the Hollywood greats played here, with pictures on the walls to prove it.
Staff an service
The staff are some of the best I have encountered on my travels, gracious and friendly, with the slight air of having seen it all before in an experienced and poised manner. Here, I felt a calm realisation come over me that everything is fine, there’s nothing to worry about and I am free to kick off my shoes and relax!
In a nutshell, when a hotel has so much repeat business, service has to be exceptional, and it is. There wasn’t one staff member who didn’t greet me warmly or make me feel welcome. Everyone was charming, hospitable and professional.
I was enjoying myself far too much to consider leaving. And I was busy believing myself to be a Hollywood starlet surrounded by her courtesans and suitors, all wanting to help me explore the coastline.
Back to reality, somewhat dazed, I wandered to reception and checked out. My bags were loaded for me into my hire car and when I arrived at the car door, the bellman asked me whether he could programme my sat-nav for me. Ah yes, it’s the little things make all the difference.
The glitz and glamourous rock-up here in season. Otherwise, global nomads, Brits and Americans feature prominently.
How to get here
35 minutes by car from Nice Airport
119 Rooms & Suites