Carved into the cliffs of the Cote d’Azur, The Maybourne Riviera brings Mayfair to the Med
Words: Selma Day
The south of France has always been synonymous with glamour – think of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in the 1955 film To Catch a Thief or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night – and has been a constant magnet for artists, writers and poets, inspired by its jaw-dropping beauty. Irish poet W.B. Yeats spent his final months in the picturesque village of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin between Monaco and Italy – he died in 1939 at the Hôtel Idéal Séjour in Menton and was buried at Roquebrune (although he was later dug up and planted in Sligo, Ireland).
Coco Chanel entertained the likes of Stravinsky, Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Dali at her home La Pausa, also in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin – built in 1928 by the architect Robert Streitz for her and Hugh Grosvenor, the second Duke of Westminster.
The area has always been a catalyst for creativity and nowhere is this more apparent than at the Maybourne Riviera – a recent addition to the group that owns Claridge’s and The Connaught.
While there is no shortage of luxury hotels along this stretch of the Cote d’Azur that are rooted in heritage and history, the Maybourne Riviera, while respectful of tradition, has a contemporary aesthetic and sensibility that sets it apart from the rest.
Sculpted into the cliffs of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, the dramatic white building with its geometric lines and floor-to-ceiling glass is a modern masterpiece created by a Who’s Who? of architects and designers. Its 69 rooms and suites all have private terraces with breathtaking views over the Mediterranean towards Cap Martin and Italy to the west and Monaco to the east.
The site was once the home of the Vista Palace, a popular resort built in the 1930s when the region became fashionable among the stylish set, including Eileen Gray, the Irish architect and furniture designer whose modernist villa E-1027 sits just below the hotel.
Art takes centre stage, with the pièce de resistance a monumental sculpture by Louise Bourgeois suspended from the ceiling in the lobby. The hotel has commissioned more than 1,000 works of art and objects from both international artists and local artisans to create pieces more akin to an art gallery or museum than a hotel.
The list of great names extends to the restaurants where two of the world’s leading chefs have sprinkled their culinary magic over the kitchens. Mauro Colagreco of three Michelin-starred Mirazur in nearby Menton overseas fine dining restaurant Ceto, which picked up a Michelin star very early on. Located on the top floor of the hotel, the views from here are simply stunning. The menu is inspired by the sea and includes fish and shellfish from the open grill, as well as delicacies such as algae, sea herbs, samphire, sea fennel, sea cucumber and snails.
For a sundowner or nightcap, head to Le 300, which serves innovative cocktails using local ingredients, from gin infused with herbs de Provence to Limoncello made in Menton, as well as an extensive wine list.
Mauro also has a more relaxed menu at his Riviera Restaurant, where guests can enjoy regional specialities using ingredients sourced locally from both France and Italy, so you’ll find Niçoise salad alongside Spaghetti alla Genovese. And if you’re missing Claridge’s, you can even indulge in a British-inspired afternoon tea.
Meanwhile, global super-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is the man behind La Piscine, which as the name suggests, is by the outdoor infinity pool overlooking the Med. The turquoise of the sea is reflected in the pool, which is lined with bright orange sun loungers – it’s the place to enjoy a glass of rosé or champagne at lunchtime, alongside a simple salad, a lobster roll with rosemary-spiked fries, sushi or a slice of Jean-George’s signature truffle pizza – a favourite on the menu at The Connaught.
No stay at the Maybourne Riviera would be complete without a visit to spa which offers a holistic but results-driven approach to wellbeing, combining ancient therapies with modern methods.
The spa menu – featuring Augustinus Bader and La Eva produces – is inspired by the scents and foliage of the local surroundings and treatment rooms come complete with terraces and, of course, sweeping views of the sea.
With its serene atmosphere, the Maybourne Riviera is the antidote to the bright lights of Monte Carlo, yet still within striking distance. It’s the perfect base to explore the area’s gastronomy, art and culture scene. Throw in the glamour, style and slick service of Claridge’s and The Connaught, then you’ll get the picture. This really is Mayfair in the Med.