Hetty Chidwick hits the French Riviera to sample a luxury five-star hotel in Eze, near Monaco.

Hotel Cap Estel, Eze near Monaco.

Who, what, where
A five-star luxury hotel in every sense of the phrase. ‘Five-Star’ and ‘Luxury Hotel’ is bandied around so often that it can lose much of it’s meaning—but Cap Estel has impact, that is for sure. Perched on the end of it’s own peninsula near Eze, a short drive from Monaco, at times it feels almost like you are on a gigantic ship, as you really are at one with the ocean.

Areas
Step through the vast, cool entrance hall—all white with high ceilings, billowing curtains and a grand piano. The elegant furniture screams class (no children’s mucky paws here, please) and I felt transported back to an opulent bygone era of Riviera life. More white ensues, with dramatic outdoor stairs leading to a stunning lawn, which then trails onto the vast pool area and then simply miles and miles of turquoise sea.

Cap EstelRooms
We stayed in a room overlooking a little private beach, great fun with the remote control blind—very James Bond, and the decor was très chic—the palette kept to blue and white of course—the best combination for sea-side style. Hop out of your room for a morning dip in the sea before breakfast—which is set on a pretty terrace and where you’ll finally see most of the other clientele – a mix of Americans, English and Germans it seemed.

Cap EstelRestaurants
The Table of Patrick Raingeard is Michelin starred and as special as dining experiences come—with a menu including fois gras spheres with Granny Smith apple, and incredible red scorpion fish. Choose the tasting menu to have wines matched for you—always helpful when feeling too taken by everything to choose sensibly—best leave it to the experts. Tasting menus from €120. For lunch you can enjoy the more relaxed but still rather special Pool House barbeque—a heavenly setting on the dappled terrace next to the pool. The magnums of rosé are popped, already on ice begging to be sampled.

Cap EstelPampering
The gym is so smart it almost made me want to try it, pounding the treadmill may be that little bit more bearable when gazing out into the ocean through the full glass wall. The Sothys spa will transport you to another planet—I would recommend a treatment on arrival and departure, perhaps with another thrown in the middle for good measure to ensure you’re in true relaxation mode.

Little details
The building “la Corniche” at the top of the property will be completely renovated during the winter and instead of the current apartments, guests can indulge in some rather wonderful new suites. Time to book now, either for the last of the summer sun or for spring next year. Total heaven on earth.

Deluxe bedrooms with a sea view including hot buffet breakfast and VAT start from €490 (www.capestel.com) Book through GP Associates (020–7610 3533; www.gp-associates.co.uk)