Travel

By Erika Hilson Palmer

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary gives the following as synonyms for the word meridian: climax, pinnacle, zenith, among others with the same sensibility. Of course…this all sounds fabulous in English…but en Francais??? It’s even better. Which is why I’ve now decided that Le Meridien Nice has the most appropriate name for a hotel I’ve ever known. My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting this lovely hotel on our recent honeymoon, and let me tell you…I wouldn’t kick and scream if I could have stayed a little longer.

When we first arrived, let’s just say we weren’t the poster children of clean, awake, or put together. (I feel like there was leeway because we had just gotten off of two damn planes, losing our luggage somewhere between Heathrow and Nice, and not nearly enough coffee or coca-light). From the minute we walked into the hotel, we were welcomed as if we were the King and Queen of Fabulousness. Jerome Ratignet, the hotel’s General Manager, greeted us personally and brought us to our room. He even offered to help us with our luggage, but alas, we had none at that moment (not to fear…we got it later that night…)

Our room was the type of room that people dream about. We were staying in one of the hotel’s 105 deluxe rooms, which have views of the Baie des Anges. I’m talking this is the kind of room I want to LIVE in–huge terrace with that view of the sea that is forever ingrained in my brain (and on, like, an entire roll of film), marble bathroom, ample closet space, and beautiful Mediterranean decor. Just yummy. The following morning, Jerome escorted us on a tour of the hotel, so now I feel like I have enough detailed information to explain exactly why this hotel is BEYOND AMAZING. Instead of lengthily (I think I made up a new word) taking you through the tour step-by-step, I’ll break it down for you.

A place to lay your hat:
Le Meridien Nice has a total of 318 rooms and/or suites ranging from the standard classic room to the grand fabulousness of the presidential suite. The rooms were last redecorated in 1999, and Jerome mentioned wanting to update and renovate even more in the near future. All of the rooms are outfitted with top-of-the line facilities, including bidets, gorgeous vintage-like mirrors in the bathrooms, multiple channels available for free or pay on the television, among others. There are three non-smoking floors, three floors with balconies, and three floors with full terraces.

There are 132 classic rooms at the hotel, and each classic room has a view of the interior patio. The rooms are rather ample in size for a standard room, and like the rest of the hotel’s decor, have a warm Mediterranean feeling. The bathrooms are tiled with Europe’s most current and fashionable tile as well as the huge mirror that looks like it came from the local vintage furniture fair. These rooms are perfect for anyone from a business traveler to a vacationer who doesn’t need a sizeable amount of space.

The superior rooms are considerably larger than the classic rooms, as well as having a view of the city. Each of the 64 rooms has the feeling of a small apartment–the bathroom is distinctly separated from the bedroom area, and in some cases, the toilet is separate from the bathtub, shower, and bidet. There is ample closet space, and of course…I’ll say it again, an incredible view of Nice.

The deluxe rooms, where we stayed, are essentially the exact same layout and size as the superior rooms, but with a view of the Baie des Anges. In our case, our view encompassed the sea, the gardens, and the city (writing this is making me miss my vacation a lot!!!!). The bathrooms are laid out slightly differently in some cases than the superior rooms, but…for all intense and purposes, they are the same room but with different views. One might argue that, if you’re on vacation, how much time will you spend in your room looking at the view? Well, I can tell you that it was worth every penny–to wake up to the sun coming over the Riviera and to go to sleep with the sound and smell of the ocean. Ahhh….

Then, of course, come the suites…if you’ve gotten any sense of how fabulous the classic rooms, superior rooms, and deluxe rooms are, you can only imagine how incredible the suites are. I’m talking I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. There are 17 junior suites, one Mediterranean suite, and one presidential suite. The junior suite that we saw was, literally, larger than my New York apartment (I know, that’s not saying much, but as New York apartments go, mine is actually quite spacious, and you’re just going to have to believe me). The terrace wrapped all the way around the room, and you could see the entire Cote d’Azur. I swear I could see all the way to Cannes or at least Juan les Pins, but…well, it was stunning.

Of course, any of the aforementioned suites are perfect for larger families, travelers who are intending on longer stays, or those who just love to splurge when going on holiday in the Riviera–oh, how posh does that sound? Relaxation, anyone?

Isn’t just being in Nice, on vacation, at the Meridien relaxation enough? Well, yes. However, the hotel actually offers additional relaxation services that, honestly, should not be overlooked. I don’t know where to start. Oh, let’s just start with THE SPA!!!!!!! Yes, you raad me correctly. THE SPA! Ok, I know the hotel travelers around the world are going, “duh. It’s a luxury hotel. Why wouldn’t there be a spa??” Well, I don’t have an answer to that, except that this spa is truly fab. It has everything you could ever want. Massages, facials, manis, pediss, tanning beds, the works. I kind of got a kick out of the idea of having a French manicure in France. Cliché? Maybe. Do Icare? Mmmm, not so much. And the prices are absolutely on par with anything you’d get in New York.

Oh, you want to be thin, trim, and tight in addition to being relaxed and beautified? Pas de probleme. There is a fully equipped gym connected to the spa. It’s not as extensive as the myriad of NYSC’s or Sports Club LA’s in NY, but?it’s got everything you’ll need to keep thee from age and vin off your thighs?guilt free vacation munching is key folks, absolutely key. There are weights, treadmills, and don’t forget the other beautiful folks exercising at the same time (hey, bettter than a TV with the closed captioning on, non?) Ho hum. Now, where does a newly fit, trim, manicured, pedicured, facialed/massaged individual on vacation in the Riviera go? Le Terrace, bien sur. The pool is on the ninth floor of the hotel, the highest floor on the Promenade des Anglais, and maybe the most gorgeous view I could ever imagine. Honestly, photographs do not do it justice. As I lay out on the striped, oh-so-Cote d’Azur lounge chairs, I thought to myself: “Self, you are the luckiest goddamn person ever.” The pool is heated year round, so, you can even take a dip in January if you so please. And if you’re hungry, the Colonial Café on the terrace offers some delish midday bites; or you can order off le menu snack and eat at your lounge chair. I highly recommend the club sandwich. Yummy.

Hungry? What do you mean you’re not hungry? Le Meridien has too much amazing food for you to not be hungry, ok? The Colonial Café is in the lobby of the hotel, and has grand sweeping windows that face the Baie des Anges and the beautiful park across the street from the hotel. A table with a view, c’est tres chic. And the food? DELISH! My husband and I ate breakfast there every morning. The buffet was parfait. Honestly, I couldn’t get enough of the hash browns, baguettes, and fresh juices. I’m still thinking about it. And, let me be the first (ok, probably not the first) to say that the coffee in France is SO MUCH BETTER than American coffee. I’m sorry, but it is.

Of course, you can always have a luxurious and four-star lunch and dinner at the Colonial Café as well, courtesy of the in-house, renowned chef Eric Baby. The meats, cheeses, and produce are unbeatable.

And as I mentioned previously, if sitting outdoors by the pool is more your cup-of-tea, le Terrace du Colonial Café is incredible. “Erika, what if I get hungry at, oh, midnight after I come home from the Casinos?” Do not fret, my friends, there is 24 hour room service available as well. We got a veggie pizza delivered to us at 1am one night. It’s just like being in New York…just different.

Expense Account, oh Expense Account, How I love you deeply:
By now you should know that Le Meridien Nice is a four-star luxury vacation getaway (yes, I know?but I will repeat myself as much as I like cause it’s my article). Well, do I have news for you. This hotel happens to have top-of-the line business facilities. Located just off the main lobby, the facilities are conveniently located but also feel separated enough as to differentiate between business and pleasure (like anyone would have to convince me, but…for others, maybe).

With a total of ten conference rooms, you can have multiple task force meetings or break-out meetings at one time. There is also one large convertible conference room that can fit up to 600 people at any one time that is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, perfect for a large conference or three smaller conferences. C’est magnifique. There is also a lounge area that doubles as a perfect coffee and snack break area.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert on, well, much; but, you don’t have to tell me twice that scheduling your next international business conference or meeting at Le Meridien Nice could possibly be the smartest thing you’ve ever done. You can work, relax, wine, dine, and enjoy time with your family all on one trip, at one hotel. And, if it’s business, it’s got to be deductible for something. The best value deals are during the winter season. Hey, genius, book it now before all the other people reading this beat you to it.

Overall, I cannot think of a single thing I would change about this fabulous vacation and stay at Le Meridien Nice. Oh, well, maybe I’d change one thing. I would have changed my stay so that I was there for longer?

Originally published November 2004
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