The Grand Hôtel du Cap Ferrat is an iconic and extravagant resort located in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat - a secluded commune on the French Riviera next to Villefranche-sur-Mer and not too far from Nice. The Grand Hôtel has become the area's main leisure institution and has received several famous guests since its opening in 1908. Saint Jean Cap Ferrat's dramatic coastline and serene atmosphere has, for centuries, rejuvenated its visitors and provided them with vivid life-long memories. The Grand Hôtel embodies all these qualities and delivers an experience marked by tranquillity and luxury. Below is a 3-day account of my stay at this incredible resort.
The first day mostly involved decompressing and familiarising myself with the hotel grounds. In the afternoon, I wondered about and took note of the hotel's architecture and interior design. I was particularly impressed by the hotel's reception and lobby; its neutral colour scheme showed restrained sophistication and its large panel of windows received natural light in such a beautiful way.
That evening, I had a family dinner at two-michelin star restaurant, Le Chantecler at the Hotel Negresco in Nice (only a 40 minute drive from Saint Jean Cap Ferrat). The restaurant's ambience was very much dated and the dishes were clearly overpriced (as is everything in this part of France). That being said, great service and a stimulating table conversation eased the culinary tensions.
I started off the second day with lunch at the hotel's outdoor restaurant. I indulged in a hearty sandwich and was pleasantly surprised by a complimentary round of sweet treats at the end. Afterward, I spent hours by the pool reading Philip Hook's Breakfast at Sotheby's (an engaging piece of work on the art world) and being mesmerised by the dramatic landscape and the distant waves. I mentioned this briefly in my San Sebastian guide but I think there's a certain beauty to doing very little or doing nothing at all. Once in a while, it's important to clear one's mind of external worries and engage in an intellectual pursuit of some sort, whether this involves reading philosophy or analysing a work of art. Alternatively, one can enjoy the 'simpler things' and by that, I mean going for a walk, listening to jazz, lying in bed or taking a long shower.
The last day began with breakfast at the hotel's beautiful main restaurant. Thereafter, a long walk on the peninsula's coastline ensued, with a landscape marked by glistening rocks, lush flora and deep blue waters. Walks on the coast can take minutes or hours depending on how far you go, but I noticed that the coast's piercing beauty actually diminished the effect of time.
The French Riviera is one of the few places that I see myself returning to year after year because there seems to be a deeper understanding of subtle luxury that isn't commonly appreciated. Furthermore, I'm grateful that leisure institutions like the Grand Hôtel still exist as they are the ones who set the standards, evolve with grace and will inspire a new generation of lifestyle entrepreneurs to form their own worthy establishments.