luxe - Grand Hotel, Cap Ferrat
Written by Tristan Rutherford
The French Riviera’s most venerable hotel celebrates a century of A-list clientele. But beware: a doze in its beach cabanas costs more than an iPad.
Cap Ferratis the richest peninsula in the world. It snakes out into the turquoise Mediterranean in a pine-scented ribbon of green. ‘Le Cap’ is sprinkled with homes of the fabulously rich and famous: Italianate palazzi, German Schlößer, and French châteaux. At the very end of the promontory lies the most ostentatious building of the lot: the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat.
The hotel’s history is legendary. Sir Winston Churchill called in for cigars; The Beatles dropped by for cocktails; a young Stella McCartney learned to swim in the hotel pool.
But, 10 years ago, the Grand Hotel looked a little tattered. Some of its clients were as old and venerable as the establishment itself. The hotel underwent a 20-month cosmetic makeover, which was completed in 2009. It’s now back in rude health.
The new Pierre Yves Rochon-designed guestrooms meld cool white linens with Carrara marble bathrooms. The vast reception area is still ‘Moorish palace meets English mansion’, but with less clutter and cleaner lines. Gone is the stuffy atmosphere. Newly installed are a luxury spa, Kids’ Club and in-room Wiis.
Just over a century ago, the French Riviera experienced its first tourist boom. Queen Victoria holidayed on the Cote d’Azur five winters in a row. A parade of European royals and Russian aristocrats followed in her wake.
‘Hotels de Luxe’ sprang up along the coastline. These included Nice’s Hotel Negresco and Monaco’s Hotel Metropole, both a 15-minute drive away. In 1908, the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat opened for its inaugural season (summer holidays were then alien to Europe’s elite). Tastes have changed, but the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat’s timeless luxury endures.