The French Riviera is known for its glamour and beauty, and its capital Nice is more than nice. Famed for its beautiful coastline, architecture and affinity with jazz, it is a culturally rich beachside destination.
It's also easier than ever before to get to thanks to seasonal flights from Abu Dhabi to Nice with Etihad Airways and new non-stop services from Bahrain to the city on the Cote d'Azur.
The National checked-in to one of the biggest hotels in the French Riviera capital to find out what a summer stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Nice is all about.
A 15-minute tram ride from Nice airport or a six-minute taxi journey is all it takes from Nice Cote d'Azur Airport to the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is a treat after a long flight.
Sitting pretty on the famed Promenade des Anglais, the hotel welcomes visitors in through glass revolving doors. It’s busy when we arrive, so we have a little bit of a wait in the lobby, but if you plan ahead, you can check-in online so all you need to do is pick up your key when you get here. Once we reach the check-in desk, it’s a swift, fuss-free process and we’re in the elevator en route to our sixth-floor room in no time.
The hotel’s location is perfect for those who want to be in walking distance of all the action, yet have a quiet place to retreat to at the end of the day. The seafront location means that rooms on the front side of the hotel come with awesome views — an endless canopy of azure blue sea. A busy road lies between the hotel and the beach, which can get a bit noisy at times, but it’s nothing to grumble over for too long.
Right behind the hotel is the Sainte Helene metro stop, which makes getting into the city very convenient — the metro runs every few minutes and is affordable. Within walking distance of the hotel are several cafes, bars, supermarkets and more; after all, this is part of the "prom", the city's seven-kilometre-long Promenade des Anglais.
The safety measures
Following Radisson’s safety policy, the hotel has social distancing reminders in public areas and staff regularly disinfect key entry points. Face masks are no longer compulsory in France, unless you're in public transport. The only obvious Covid-19 measures in place are the strategically located hand sanitising stations dotted throughout the hotel.
We are staying in a sizeable Premium room on the sixth floor. A comfortable king-size bed takes centre stage, and there’s a circular table that can be used for dining or work, with a handy sofa seat built into the wall. The bathroom is small, but adequate and has pretty traditional tiles.
The colour scheme in the room has clearly been inspired by the French Riviera, with myriad blue ocean tones and bright white surfaces. After a visit to Nice's Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, we have even more appreciation for the blue monochromatic print by French artist Yves Klein that hangs on our wall.
The balcony is a little tired, with furniture that looks like it could have seen better days, but it is functional. When you’re gazing out at the ocean views, you’re not really thinking about the chair you're sitting on.
Swift and efficient, although perhaps lacking a little in warmth. We’re not given any information about the hotel and its facilities when we check in, so have to find the pool, beach club, scooters for hire etc by ourselves. Housekeeping is a discrete operation.
With 331 rooms spread over eight levels, Radisson Blu is one of Nice's largest luxury hotels. Family-friendly with a good location, it caters to all sorts — big tourist groups, families, friends and more.
The rectangular rooftop pool surrounded by sunbeds is a good spot to while away the hours, and has views of the Bay of Angels on one side and the hills of Fabron on the other.
Across the street, the hotel has its own seasonal beach club called Regence Plage, but we’re disappointed to discover there’s a hefty charge to access it, even for in-house guests. Fitness fans can head to the gym and sauna, while Bar 223 in the lobby is a nice spot for an afternoon coffee or a pre-dinner drink. A handy co-working space near reception has high tables, desks and sleek coffee-table books.
We only have the chance to try breakfast at the hotel, although we are assured the hotel’s rooftop Calade is a good spot for locally inspired dishes and amazing views.
Breakfast at Le 223 is a nice way to start the day. The ground-floor nautical-themed eatery has a sheltered patio for al fresco dining, and offers a good buffet spread with yoghurt, fruit, vegetables, eggs, cereals, juices, cheese, breads, and pastries on offer.
There's also a hot selection of sausages, fried potatoes, bacon and vegetable ratatouille, as well as a "morning Mary" station where you can concoct your own virgin version of the famous tomato juice cocktail.
Tea drinkers have plenty of options, while coffee aficionados might be a bit disappointed as there's only machine java on offer, and requests for hot drinks with dairy-free milks are not possible. A small a la carte menu is also available with pancakes, omelets and eggs cooked a la minute.
Adding breakfast to your room costs about €15 per person and is, in our opinion, worth the price, although a little more variety each day would have been welcome.
Highs and lows
The best thing about the hotel is the view from the sea-facing rooms — uninterrupted vistas of the magnificent Baie des Anges. Aviation enthusiasts will also enjoy the vistas over the Nice Cote d'Azur runway, which makes for epic plane spotting as the jets cruise above the blue Mediterranean waters.
The low is the fact that guests staying in a luxury hotel so close to the beach in a city so famous for its coastline need to pay to access Regence Plage.
The insider tip
Use the online check-in service to save time when you arrive, and opt for a sea-facing view, it's worth the nominal price difference.
While it’s not breaking the mould when it comes to hotel stays, Radisson Blu Hotel, Nice, offers a great location on the French Riviera for those seeking a south of France escape. Rooms are spacious and have all been recently upgraded, views are breathtaking and travellers staying here are well-placed for exploring the city.
The bottom line
Rooms at Radisson Blu Hotel Nice start from €101 ($114), including taxes, but summer rates tend to fluctuate as the city gets busy. Check-in time is from 3pm and checkout is at noon; www.radissonhotels.com
This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel during the global coronavirus pandemic. It reflects hotel standards during this time, services may change in the future.