< FRANCE | NICE: Hôtel Le Negresco
In 1893, a young Romanian, Henri Negrescu, the son of an innkeeper arrived in Monte-Carlo. He began his career in the hospitality sector and quickly gained in experience to become director of the restaurant at the Helder. His professionalism attracted a prestigious clientele and his dream was to build a hotel in keeping with their important status. His management of the restaurants at the Municipal Casino of Nice and the Casino at Enghien-les-Bains in 1905 was to have a significant impact on his future. His position at the Municipal Casino in Nice gave him the opportunity to meet the celebrated French architect of Dutch origin, Edouard Niermans (1859-1928) « architect of the Café Society ». In 1909 at the restaurant in Enghien-les-Bains he met Alexandre Darracq (1855-1931), the future financier of his project. Henry Negresco (his given name as a French citizen) could at last entrust his project to Niermans. Nothing was left to chance in order to mark the occasion, so Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) was chosen to construct the framework of one of Europe’s most beautiful glass domes - the pride of the Salon Royal.
On January 8th 1913 the Negresco opened its doors and the dazzling white façade and its pink dome have watched over the Bay of Angels ever since. The hotel attracted a rich and
international clientele, heads of state from the old and new world : Vanderbilt, Singer, Queen Amelia of Portugal, the Count of Paris, the Grand Dukes Ducs Wladimir and
Dimitri... In just one year the Negresco was acclaimed as the most sumptuous of luxury hotels. The first season was an enormous success earning a profit of 800 000 gold
When the First World War broke out Henry Negresco, decorated “Knight of the Legion of Honneur”, opened his hotel to the Nation as a temporary hospital and even paid for the upkeep of 100 beds out of his own pocket. By the end of the War Henry Negresco was a ruined man. He died in Paris in 1920.
The hotel Negresco was bought by a Belgian company and although it was still a popular address for winter visitors it slowly declined and sank into oblivion. In 1957 a family tragedy obliged Monsieur Mesnage and his daughter Jeanne, future spouse of Maître Paul Augier, to purchase the Negresco which was in a sorry state. The passion that Jeanne Augier developed for her hotel was to bring new-found prestige to this magical location which was to ‘rise from its ashes’. She has sought to give her guests an insight into the great periods of French Art by means of an exceptional collection of Art exhibited throughout the hotel and guestrooms. Maître Augier passed away in 1995 but Jeanne Augier has continued to enrich the collection that she created, adding to the hotel’s heritage and drawing a loyal clientele: Elton John, Montserrat Caballe...
On July 1st 2010 the long history of the Negresco took a new turn. Back in 1912, the hotel was equipped with the most modern facilities of that day: steam autoclave, electric commutator, tube system for mail distribution to the guestrooms … Today, the most innovative home automated technology has been put into service on our 5th floor. Indeed, the first new feature that the Negresco proposes is an « Executive Floor » on the 5th floor where guests will appreciate the discretion that is so distinctive of the hotel. The Executive floor is entirely privatized with independent lift service and Bar Lounge area, combining tradition and technology, comfort and measured luxury.
The lobby and the glorious Salon Royal have been refurbished “from top to bottom”. Gustave Eiffel’s dome in the Salon Royal, a classified Historic Monument, has been lovingly restored by skilled craftsmen and the ‘Compagnons de France’. The facilities of the restaurant la Rotonde have been redesigned to provide an upmarket bistro adapted to the requirements of businessmen in a rush and also the local inhabitants who just wish to relax and admire the Bay of Angels from the new terrace. During this vast project, the façade was lovingly restored and re-painted under the direction of the Historic Monuments. Work began in October 2009 and spread over a period of 18 months.
As a listed Historic Monument the hotel Negresco was bound to call upon the services of an architect from the ‘Bâtiments de France’ for all renovation work and the Chief Architect Pierre-Antoine Gatier was in charge of this operation.
Negresco was used as a filming location many times: "Les seins de glace" (1974) with Alain Delon, Claude Brasseur, Mireille Darc; "The Poppy Is Also a Flower" (1966) starring Yul Brunner, T.Howard, Curd Jurgens, Rita Hayworth; "La cage aux folles I & II" with Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Serrault; "Les compères" (1983) with Gérard Depardieu and Pierre Richard; "Joyeuses Pâques" (1984) with Jean-Paul Belmondo, Marie Laforêt, Sophie Marceau; "Ronin" (1998) with Jean Réno, Robert de Niro + many more.
The Golden Book feature names of some of the world's most famous people: Queen Elisabeth II, Duke of Westminster, Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Prince Turki Bin Faisal Bn Turki al Saoud, Sheik Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, Karim and the Begum Aga Khan, King Abdallah and Queen Rania of Jordan, King of Nepal, King of Malaysia, Maharaja of Palamjur, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, Gerhard Schroeder, Boris Yeltsin, Montserrat Caballe, José Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Franck Sinatra, Marc Chagall, Picasso, Henri Matisse. Ernest Hemingway, Lauren Bacall, Marlon Brando, Charlie Chaplin, Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper Tony Curtis, James Dean, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Céline Dion, Walt Disney, Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Isabelle Adjani, Brigitte Bardot, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Roger Moore, Peter Ustinov, Pierre Cardin, Jean-Paul Gaultier, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Elton John, Michael Jackson...
Additional literature: n/a