Sipping gringo and Monkey Mai Tai cocktails under clear blue skies on the biggest rooftop hotel terrace in Nice is an activity that’s hard to beat – unless perhaps you’re having a juicy Angus entrecôte or sautéed lamb noisette in the property’s fine-dining restaurant.
Such are some of the rewards of staying at the Radisson Blu on the French Riviera’s famed Promenade des Anglais.
Opened in 1979 and one of 430 properties in operation or under development by the Rezidor Group in 70 different countries, the 331-room hotel has undergone extensive renovation costing more than 18 million euro. Corridors, facades, kitchens, meeting rooms, restaurants and the rooftop terrace have all being re-designed by French architects Didier & Fabrice Knoll to give a fresh, modern look. Contemporary bedrooms, for example, now come in three styles – ‘chilli,’ with lovely warm colors of orange, pepper and red; ‘ocean,’ where blues and whites reminiscent of the sea predominate; and ‘urban,’ with classic furniture in pure straight lines created from striped wood and soft beige and gray tones.
The hotel stands in a convenient location with regular shuttle buses from the airport leaving one directly opposite. In two or three years it will be even more convenient as it is planned that a tram will operate directly from the airport.
The highlight of our 4th floor room was its ample balcony with wonderful views along the Mediterranean coastline.
Termed by officials as an ‘urban resort,’ you can relax on the 700 square meter 8th floor rooftop ‘La Terrasse’ over a cocktail, which we did courtesy of Maurice, the efficient barman; enjoy a lunch of salad, pasta and grilled dishes, enjoying panoramic views over the Baie des Anges (for early birds, sunrises are well worth seeing); or take a plunge in the 150 square meter pool. Alternatively, you can wander over to the nearby ‘Régence’ the hotel’s private beach, for a session of sunbathing and seawater. Another alternative is the small 7thth floor wellness center where you can indulge in a sauna, steam, massage or a bout of rigorous exercise on the cardio training machines.
The 186-seater ‘Le 223’ is the hotel’s ground-floor restaurant, providing both indoor and outdoor dining options under the supervision of chef Christophe Vandewinckel. Bathed in soft, warm tones with marine notes, it features minimalist décor – central shelving running the length of the room housing assorted vases and string ceiling lighting. Its outer glass walls offer views out to the terrace and to the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) beyond.
The menu runs the gamut of dishes from roasted fillet of bass, prosciutto flavored monkfish and salmon piccata to roasted lamb noisette and grilled chicken breast with basil cream and ratatouille. Challenging as it is to decline, try not to over-indulge on the delicious homemade bread with Normandy butter. For a touch of romance, dinners can also be arranged on room terraces by candlelight or, weather permitting, on the rooftop terrace.
During my visit, the hotel served a health breakfast option including items such as pomegranate juice, turmeric and garlic as part of an anti-cancer campaign in collaboration with Europa Donna, an organization of women highlighting greater awareness of breast cancer.
Business clients are well served with fourteen meeting rooms and 20 breakout rooms offering 1,500 sqm of space, the largest room accommodating 320 people theater-style.
While Vieux Nice (Old Town) is a 40-minute walk away, it is a scenic one along the broad Promenade des Anglais with the sea at one’s shoulder. Be aware, however, that public transport ends around 9pm, though taxis are easy to find.
Removed from downtown hustle and bustle yet within a short taxi ride of most restaurants, bars and cafes, Radisson Blu gives you the choice of quiet relaxation or lively nightlife.