With a literary heritage that will make bookworms swoon (and a hedonistic array of champagne cocktails) Hôtel Belles Rives evokes all the glamour of the French Riviera in the 20s.
"With our being back in a nice villa on my beloved Riviera (between Nice and Cannes) I'm happier than I've been for years. It's one of those strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in one's life seems to be going well." This is an extract from a letter sent by F. Scott Fitzgerald to Ernest Hemingway on his time spent at his seaside home - Villa Saint Louis - in Juan-les-Pin, now Hôtel Belles Rives.
It's here, at Hôtel Belles Rives, that Fitzgerald began to write Tender is the Night, while he rented the private seaside residence with Zelda and his daughter in 1926. Visitors to the hotel (in particular, those on a Fitzgerald pilgrimage) will delight in the fact that just beyond the harbour, a small blinking green lighthouse - which may have been the model for the green light on the dock that symbolised Jay Gatsby's longing for the elusive Daisy - is visible.
Fitzgerald fans - add this to your hotel hit list, stat.
Some 42 rooms are kitted out with Pierre Frey fabrics and original art-deco furnishings. In the all-marble bathroom, you'll find an array of Penhaligon's products and fluffy robes, finished in aqua-blue stitching. It's worth noting that standard rooms are on the smaller side, so reserve a suite if you can. A sea view is also essential but otherwise, rooms follow a similar pattern.
What's for breakfast?
Feast on a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs peppered to perfection, paired with smoked salmon and roasted tomatoes. Follow with fresh fruits or a stack of pancakes (other baked delights that might entice include the zingy citron tart - yes, even at 7.30am). Whether a meek or munificent morning meal, dining on the terrace is a must.
How about lunch and dinner?
Dinner at La Passagère, the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant, is a schooling in French fine dining. Polite barks from under the table are to be expected (this is the South of France chérie) as is an abundance of fresh rye bread - even the butter is stylishly plated, served in a pearlised shell. Pull out a blue-and-white woven chair before commencing your feast - start with crab ravioli and end with La Passagère's signature lemon soufflé - a cloudlike, zesty concoction that we could eat three times over. For a much quicker meal, pop down to La Plage, a casual all-day eatery centred around salads, grilled fish, langoustine skewers and, of course, copious amounts of chilled rosé.
Is there a bar?
Piano Fitzgerald Bar, complete with (you guessed it) a grand piano, leopard-upholstered seats, mirrored tables and a deliciously hedonistic array of champagne-based cocktails, is a jewel box of a room. Order "Green Therapy", a cocktail of gin, cucumber and egg whites, and hope you don't get a taste for something you really fancy (at around €20 a pour, drinks don't come cheap).
There are two beaches - one rocky and the other a small sandy slope - both with daily towel and sunlounger charges, so you'll find us rising early and parking up on the hotel's jetty to secure one of the prime lounging spots. Territory marked (with a retro towel), spend the rest of the afternoon waterskiing across Golfe-Juan Bay - the stretch of sea where water-skiing was born.
Things I should know
Some trivia. At Belles Rives - then Villa Saint Louis - Fitzgerald began to write Tender is the Night, while he rented the private seaside residence with Zelda and his daughter in 1926.
Within a short walk I can find…
If you enjoy hotel-hopping half as much as we do, then a 30-minute coastal walk is a short pilgrimage to worth embarking on. Your Eden? Why Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, of course.