French Riviera and the Art of Booking Hotels Online: Nothing Zen! Part 3

Map of the French Riviera

We are taking a couple of days off after five months of 7/7 and 24/24 service to our dear guests. Destination: French Riviera. Just a couple of days on the board of a private swimming pool or a beach. Late breakfast, rest, lunch on the beach, rest, read a book, rest, small dinner, maybe some sightseeing, maybe some boating.
We put our plans for a trip to Copenhagen on the back burner as May, June and July gave us mediocre weather after an unusually hot April.

Where to stay?

First: where not to stay:

Not in Don Cesar, Cap d’ Antibes
We have stayed a couple of times at 4 star Hotel Don Cesar. Nicely located on Cap d’Antibes and near to one of our favorite beaches. However, the last time we stayed there, it proved more and more worn out. It doesn’t particularly look inviting to go back. This observation seems in line with those of Tripavisor reviews.
[Update: after a refurbishment the hotel is now know as Hotel Vogue]
Nor in Domaine Cocagne, Cagne sur Mer
Domaine Cocagne originated from a camping with some holiday apartments. It has Dutch owners and was not so long ago thoroughly and very nicely refurbished under guidance of a well known Dutch Designer, Jan des Bouvries: It has good location, a nice restaurant, nice beds and clean and almost white interior. However the guests that frequent there do not fit with the quietness and rest we are looking for. Especially since I had breakfast there with the pleasure of looking out over the swimming pool with a couple of ladies in a string only already loudly occupying their day beds (afraid as they were the beds would be gone for the day) while their figures would only be flattered by a bathing suit (even a bikini would have looked gross)….This view didn’t go well with the excellent shambled (pardon: scrambled) eggs I had for breakfast. In addition the owner made it very rudely clear to a couple of dear Gay friends of us who planned a stay for 2 or 3 months in the hotel, that he didn’t like gay people. Thirdly we noted a very high alcohol consumption of several hotel guests. These issues make me think twice to go there ever again. Hm they even have no reviews on Tripadvisor for this hotel.

True to my own principle I started browsing some trusted sites with hand picked accommodations.

  • Hotels of the Rich and Famous is easy navigable. Its map is excellent and combined with its listed properties it is quick and easy navigable. Certainly not so cluttered as some other sites. It comes up with: Chateau Eza in Eze (between Beaulieu and Monaco. Definitely a possibility as it is close to Bealieu where we like to visit friends one day and very close to Chateau de La Chèvre d’Or where a dinner or lunch has been on my wish list for quite some time already. It appears Chateau Eza is a Stein Group Hotel which operated the Dylan (formerly Blakes and now up for sale by owner Apollo Group) and The College Hotel, both in Amsterdam. I also didn’t know yet that Chateau de La Chèvre d’Or is a hotel as well. Alas it looks much more stuffy than Eza.
  • Kiwi Collection mentions:
    • Le Mas Candille in Mougins which actually is a bit too far from the beaches,
    • Chateau Eza in Eze (again),
    • Cap Estel Eze, Bord de Mer (down by the sea), even a Kiwi Collection WOW pick, but no availability,
    • Le Mas de Pier in Saint Paul de Vence
    • Villa Belrose, near St Tropez that is a bit far from where we want to stay
    • La Reserve de Beaulieu in Beaulieu, and
    • Le Saint Paul in Saint Paul de Vence

    I very much appreciate the fact that the Kiwi collection gives the urls of all their featured hotels, notwithstanding they do not have maps available on their site

  • Chic Retreats offers:

    Chic retreats could use maps on its site or give the urls of the property. However Lulu herself recently promised me to do the urls soon (she recently had asked the member hotels to provide them, but did get only one reply).

  • XO Private Collection just sent me an invitation by e-mail to join their XO Private Insider. I thought for a moment “Wow am I privileged”, but I now see you can click on it from its Main Page. I still do wonder from where the invitation came. I like the fact that they provide all info in a write up and simply link through to the website of the accommodation itself. It has (in addition to Eza and Cap d’Estel):
  • Luxury Culture suggests:
    • Hotel du Castellet in an old glass factory north of Bandol near Toulon, too far away for our present plans, but worthwhile to remember,
    • Domaine des Andeols North of Apt, an Alain Ducasse property, too far away but also to remember

    The luxury culture flash presentations are really nice to get good impressions of the properties and I would say a better impression than any video as yet could give

  • A fellow hotel blogger, Hotel Blogs 2.0, suggested:
    • Mas Artigny in St Paul de Vence [ed: Noted closed permanently in 2017], or
    • Villa St Maxime, near St Tropez
  • Another travel blogger in the know, Blog on Travel, suggested go to Clos des Arts from the SLH portfolio in Colle Sur Loup.
  • Then a very good friend of us mentioned Hotel Welcome in Villefranche sur mer. Oh I like that location: It is the second Bay west from Monaco and has a lot of shipping movements as it is frequented by mega yachts and by large cruising vessels who can anchor for free during a couple of hours or waiting until their berth in Nice is free to proceed or are seeking a nice location for a hop of for a stroll or a lunch ashore.

The Verdict:
I have split our stay over two hotels: Bastide Mathieu and Hotel Welcome.
Stay tuned for my reviews.
At least for future visits I can rely on this post which will help to save some time…

Last edited by GJE on December 6, 2011 at 7:24 am

5 thoughts on “French Riviera and the Art of Booking Hotels Online: Nothing Zen! Part 3”

  1. Always like to read your online research articles “nothing Zen”.
    Why is it still so difficult to find places based on your “taste” ?? in the end its still a booking based on intuition and feeling around the internet.
    Hope you picked out the right ones (well they look good/promising).

    have a good holiday

    Willem Vos

  2. Thanks Willem, for your support (as ever).

    Such research is very time consuming. It confirms my idea that unless you only want a bunk to sleep on, the Internet is not yet where it should/could be for DIY reservations.

    I was just thinking this morning under the shower about your position that you need video, video and again video on accommodation sites, but I don’t agree. Look at the way a video is presented on the web: A sort of small tv screen that doesn’t show photos, no, it shows a start button. In addition looking at videos is time consuming.

    I believe that you need 6 to 8 good photos of at least 800 pixels width to have a quickly flippable impression of an accommodation. 98 % of the accommodation sites need work in this respect. The Welcome Hotel has a site that doesn’t show a lot and is one of the worst in my opinion. I know of the hotel by recommendation by a dear friend who knows our hotel, our style and whose style and likes and dislikes I know.

    In that respect I am very curious where the Internet is heading in respect of user reviews.

  3. I totally agree about photos versus video, video doesnt give a quick overview, photos are handier/faster (but can make things look a bit better then they really are, video is more honest).

    About hotel Welcome, I stayed in Villefranche myself once and its nice. I passed by the hotel everyday on the way to the beach, for sure the best located hotel of the village (but I havent looked inside).

    have fun!


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