The Maybourne Hotel Group — owners of London’s triumvirate of grande dames: The Connaught, The Berkeley, and beloved Claridge’s — is on a winning streak with new outposts in Beverly Hills and now the Côte d’Azur. Open for a couple of years, this summer, it’s really in full swing with the launch of its Maybourne La Plage beach club.
Jutting precariously from the cliffs (of course, there is nothing really precarious about it, with years of planning and whizzy engineering costing £225 million) high above Monaco (guests can hear the roar of the cars when the Grand Prix rolls into town and the grunts of Rafael Nadal when the Monte Carlo Masters is in swing) to its right and the glinting waters of pretty Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the left.
Below is Villa La Vigie, the former holiday home of late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and, on a clear day, you can see Corsica and Italy. As locations go, it’s the most impressive on the Riviera.
Pouncing on the drama of its A+ location, architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte hasn’t wasted a single opportunity to showcase the views. It’s all floor-to-ceiling glass, clean lines, and modernist gorgeousness. Not a bit like the cosy luxury of The Connaught or Art Deco shine of Claridge’s, this has its own minimalist style with world-class art and soaring, expansive spaces. The service, though, is unmistakably Maybourne.
Food & drink
If the views are the first gravitational pull to the Maybourne Riviera, its culinary magic is the second. The Maybourne knows how to do breakfast, with heaving baskets of pastries (some decorated with gold leaf), fresh juices, and à la carte everything.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is in charge at La Piscine by Jean-Georges. Fresh flavours, seafood, and his famous truffle pizza are the order of the day. Favourites among our group were the zingy crab toast, creamy burrata with rhubarb compote, and pretty-as-a-picture beetroot and strawberry salad.
Legendary Mauro Colagreco, of three-Michelin star Mirazur, in nearby Menton, has created something spectacular at rooftop restaurant Ceto — which has already won a Michelin star. A seafood grill, guests are tipped off to what lies beyond with a glimpse inside the Himalayan salt-lined curing room at the entrance, where huge tuna fish hang ghoulishly. Playing with delicacies like algae, sea herbs, and sea cucumber, this is special occasion dining — good news, then, that non-guests can book in for the experience, too.
Off the lobby lies the casual Riviera lunch spot and Le 300 bar serving up infinitely sinkable cocktails.
Newly opened beach club (this month) — Maybourne La Plage — is a living Slim Aarons photograph with fringed parasols, rattan, and squidgy loungers on the rocks at the tip of Cap Martin. Hitch a ride down in one of the hotel’s bespoke open-top Biminis or moor up at the club’s wooden pontoon. With seafood by Colagreco, magnums on ice, and live DJ sets, expect the playful side of Maybourne.
Back up on the perilously high cliffs, arrive early at La Piscine by Jean-Georges to capture the views unobstructed. There is breathtaking alchemy at play, where the blue of the infinity pool meets the haze of the ocean and the popping orange sun-loungers — Instagram needs to see it.
The spa, designed by André Fu, offers all the world-class treatments you would expect from Maybourne, with a menu featuring Augustinus Bader, FaceGym, and La Eva. As with everything else, the views are extraordinary.
It’s a hazy, lazy sort of place, where guests are more likely to order a spicy margarita by the pool than head off to visit the sites (at least, that was my preferred experience). That said, there is plenty to do for more active types. Mooch off to explore the miniature retreat of painter Le Corbusier in his Cabanon de Vacances, or villa E1027, designed by Irish architect Eileen Gray.
In Antibes, there’s the world’s first Picasso Museum. Or enjoy hikes, cycle trails, and golf nearby. And there always that glittering sea — the hotel staff will happily point you in the direction of the best beaches on the Côte d’Azur. Flashy Monte Carlo, with its casinos and mega-yachts, is worth a visit to see how the 0.1 per cent live.
Only three of the panoramic suites jutting out of the cliffs at the apex of the hotel have near 360-degree views. They book up fast but, boy, are they spectacular. All the 69 rooms have private terraces and, of course, views. A few have private pools. Interiors are light, bright, and frame the blue-on-blue of the Côte d’Azur beyond. A serene room-service breakfast (one of my pastries was topped with gold leaf) on the terrace in the hazy morning light is a joy.
Anyone with cash to splash and a designer wardrobe to show off, though it’s not at all pretentious.
Doubles from €750 (£652); maybourneriviera.com