After three days in Nice, we got a taxi and made the 45 minute drive west to the beach town of Antibes, which is located on a peninsula called Cap d’Antibes. Antibes was very popular with the literati crowd in the 1920’s and was frequently visited by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Gerald and Sara Murphy owned a villa here. Picasso also came to live here for a little over a year with his much younger wife Francois Gilot during that time as well.
I had struggled deciding which hotel to stay at in this area as there is the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, which is gorgeous and very hoity-toity, and the more low-key Hotel Belles Rives. My travel agent actually talked me into the Hotel Belles Rives as she thought it was more my style and I totally fell in love with this art deco beauty!
The Hotel Belles Rives used to be a privately owned villa called the Villa Louis until around 1918, when its new owner converted it into a small hotel. Obviously, it has been added onto since those days but the lobby, bar and facade are all original. It’s decorated head to toe in 1920’s art deco style with murals and period pieces – I was in love!
F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda also fell in love with this place and actually moved here to live for an entire year. The antics and partying life style they enjoyed with other artists and the Murphys were the inspiration for his novel, Tender is the Night.
The Belles Rives is also famous because this is where water skiing was invented! The hotel sits right on the water and has its own private pier that offers all kind of water sports and has a water skiing school. They still do water ski shows here with the skiers doing tricks, jumps and making pyramids. The bay here is like glass so it’s perfect for it. From the back of the hotel, you get a great view with Cannes in the distance. The sunsets here were incredible.
Our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived so we headed downstairs to have lunch and some wine at their casual seaside restaurant. It was a beautiful terrace area set up under an awning. I finally had my first salade Nicoise of the trip and Steve indulged in a delicious cheeseburger and fries. We sat out here and leisurely finished a bottle of crip white wine and admired the view and watched the water skiers.
Hands down my favorite part of the hotel was the Fitzgerald Bar. This bar is located in the original part of the hotel and is one of the most beautiful bars I have seen. It is definitely art deco decorating goals. Every evening that have a piano player that comes and plays a lot of Cole Porter and other classics and they serve amazing cocktails, from a traditional dry martini to a moscow mule. I had quite a few bellinis on their terrace watching the sunset during our stay here. Between the decor and the piano music each evening, you could have sworn you were transported to the roaring 20’s and were just waiting for Fitzgerald to stumble in. It was a wonderful scene and quite lively in the evenings.
Onto the room! We were upgraded to a deluxe sea view room and it was perfection. The room was large and spacious and we had a small walkout balcony with the most incredible view. The room was also decorated in the same art deco style in keeping with the rest of the hotel but, of course, had all the modern conveniences. The hotel also provided us with a bottle of rose wine and some sweet treats as part of our Virtuoso travel package.
Breakfast was also included in our stay and they had a lovely spread every morning of pastries, eggs, bacon & sausage, fruit, smoked salmon, potatoes, roasted tomatoes, etc… Everyone had breakfast on the restaurant terrace to enjoy the views.
La Passagere Restaurant is very popular and features a heavy seafood menu. The restaurant also has a Michelin star and is considered one of the top places to eat in Antibes. We never had dinner here though we did sample a few small bites from the bar menu. It’s a gorgeous restaurant and the decor mimics many of the paintings and ceramics made by Picasso during his stay in Antibes.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Belles Rives. It’s a bit less expensive and a bit more casual than the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, which we had lunch at and did a hotel snoop so I’ll post about that later this week. Personally, I loved it for the history and the decor and relaxed vibe. We only got to spend one very short afternoon at their beach club and loungers as we were out and about a lot and the one afternoon we went for a swim, a nasty storm popped up in the distance so we got out of the water when we saw lightning. We were sad to only get in one swim in the Mediterranean but once is better than never. My husband ranked this as his favorite hotel of the entire trip so I think that says a lot!