|Hotel La Pérouse
|Hotels, Design, Interior Design
11 Quai Rauba Capeu
Of all the qualities that make a great hotel, location and views are both the most basic and the most intransigent when it comes to leisure travel, the kind of qualities that you need to nail down from the start – after all, you can always improve on your hotel’s amenities, services and décor but you can’t change its address or its surroundings. In this sense, Hotel La Pérouse in Nice definitely had an advantage from the moment it opened its doors in 1936. Situated at the end of the Promenade des Anglais, the property is located just a few steps away from both the old town and the port, whilst enjoying commanding sea views as it overlooks the Baie des Anges.
Featuring terraces carved into the limestone cliff of Colline du Château (Castle Hill), a 92-metre-high hill that looms over the city, a swimming pool dug out of the rock and a garden full of citrus trees, the 4-star boutique hotel also counts its atypical architecture as another reason why it has always attracted both French and international travellers seeking to experience the French Riviera. Of course, as any experienced hotelier will tell you, it’s never wise to rest on one’s laurels. Enter Virginie Friedmann and Delphine Versace, the interior design duo behind Paris-based Friedmann & Versace Studio, who were tasked to thoroughly revamp the hotel with respect to its storied history. Unveiled this past May, La Pérouse’s soulful renovation combines nostalgic sophistication with a truly relaxed, laid-back ambience in the spirit of the Côte d’Azur.
For the studio’s first hotel project, Friedmann and Versace drew inspiration from the area’s artistic and artisanal heritage, including icons like Picasso, Matisse, Dufy, Cocteau and Joséphine Baker who made the French Riviera their home, as well as the golden age of Vallauris where French pottery flourished in the 1950s. Working with local artisans and workshops, they furnished La Pérouse with bespoke pieces custom-designed for the project mixed with vintage treasures sourced from local galleries. From the custom-made plaster sconces and mirrors to the coral lamps found in Palermo, through to the guest room headboards upholstered in bespoke jacquard embroidery to the decorative terre melee ceramic tiles from Italy, each element has been thoughtfully interweaved into a seductive narrative. Underpinned by a soothing palette of earthy hues and natural materials, and a profusion of marine and floral patterns, the duo’s decorative approach has imbued La Pérouse with elegant simplicity and artisanal craftsmanship.
The duo’s decorative flair culminates in the redesigned Le Patio restaurant which features a sculptural fireplace adorned with beautiful ceramics in the spirit of the 1950s, a dreamy mural by artist Nicolas Balzicevic, and a breathtakingly beautiful bar counter artfully sheathed in a rich bounty of seashells, the work of shell marquetry master Caroline Perrin. A second bar on the dining terrace clad in marine-themed reliefs offers yet another sculptural focal point courtesy of French designer Caroline Scholl. Enamelled lava-stone table tops decorated with drawings inspired from the works of Jean Cocteau introduce an additional element of marine-inspired iconography while the century-old lemon trees and lush jasmine plants fill the air with enchanting aromas.
The restaurant’s marine and floral themes provide the perfect setting for Chef Damien Andrews’ menu where seasonal vegetables and fresh fish take centre stage in celebration of the region’s gastronomic heritage. "My aim is to show off these products via a sharing menu that uses well-honed techniques to bring out the most refined expression of their essential flavours,” he says. His signature dishes include Sea Bream Carpaccio seasoned with Fresh Raspberry and Ginger Oil, slow-cooked Monkfish with Violet Artichokes and Niçoise Olives, and, for a sweet finish, a feather-light Yoghurt Espuma with Red Fruits.
Friedmann and Versace’s nostalgically elegant yet laidback aesthetic extends to the hotel’s 53 guest rooms and suites, almost all of which are blessed with fabulous views of the Mediterranean. In fact, it’s precisely these commanding sea views and the feeling of being aboard a ship that inspired the hotel’s name back in the 1930s which pays homage to Jean-François de Galaup, the Comte de La Pérouse, a famous 18th-century French naval officer. Undoubtedly, the best views are from the top floor ‘Mediterranean Suite’ which offers panoramic vistas not just of the sea but also of the old town. Along with its spacious terrace featuring sun lounges, a hot tub and a dining area, this jewel in the crown in La Pérouse’s accommodation perhaps encapsulates the property’s unique selling point in the most eloquent way.