luxe - Hi Hotel, Nice
Written by Tristan Rutherford
Nice’s DayGlo design hotel wows guests with a rooftop pool, secret garden, and a LEGO-like array of colour.
The plastic-fantastic Hi Hotel was inaugurated in 2003. Its modern design has proved as timeless as a Corbusier chair – but that didn’t stop the shockwave that spread through Nice’s fusty accommodation industry on opening day.
Hi Hotel’s bathrooms are separated from the bedrooms by a layer of transparent Perspex, a ‘cosy’ arrangement to say the least. And the establishment’s insistence on an all-organic approach – from eco-cleaning products to natural paint – placed it years ahead of its time.
Regular guests soon settled into the Hi regime. To suit any mood, a choice of nine designer guestroom styles can be reserved in advance.
White & White rooms, for example, calm nerves with clean lines, an in-room bathtub, and a Plexiglas ceiling. Indoor Terrace rooms come complete with a yoga space and a glow-in-the-dark toilet. Needless to say, word of such creative creature comforts spread fast.
The hotel’s latest addition on Nice’s seafront promenade, Hi Beach, has single-handedly reinvented the beach club too. Stripy sun loungers are placed waterside from April onwards, as are swing chairs, hammocks, a weightlifting salon, an architecture library, and an all-organic beach bar.
If the accommodation industry in Nice can be described as conventional, then that of the Tunisian desert is positively historic. But traditions don’t stop the likes of Matali Crasset, the design mind behind the Hi Hotel. In early 2011, Crasset planted a Sahara-chic holiday village, Hi Dar, near the Algerian border. Her Zen-like resort is dotted with eight Moorish towers and ringed by ruler-straight ramparts: a 21st century Arabian Nights. Locally sourced fabrics and even footwear – guests trade their sneakers for leather babouches on entry – are set against an open laboratory kitchen, a communal cinema, and loor-to-ceiling bedroom windows.