The jewel of France’s southwest coast, Biarritz is full of glamorous sun worshippers and eager surfers, muscling for space on the sandy beaches. It’s also the gateway to the Basque region, so you can expect gastronomic delights and excellent wine. With some of the most opulent hotels in the world, this resort town is the perfect holiday destination for those looking for a lavish retreat – or an upscale surf trip.
Steeped in history, this palatial luxury hotel, once the summer retreat of Napoleon III and his Spanish wife Empress Eugenie, has 132 rooms and 20 suites, all lavishly furnished. It sits in a magnificent, elevated position right over Grande Plage with poolside views of the ocean. No more than a five-minute walk from the centre of town and with ample on-site parking, there are three restaurants, including La Rotonde Restaurant fronted by acclaimed chef, Aurélien Largeau. Once frequented by royalty and Hollywood starlets of the Belle Époque, Hôtel du Palais today still retains that grand vestige of elegant old world charm.
This is a small, contemporary designer hotel situated in a quiet side street. Choose from budget-friendly double rooms up to the hotel suite with interconnecting doors, sleeping up to eight people. Service is friendly and efficient, with a choice of buffet or continental-style breakfast in the spacious light-filled library/dining area. On warmer days, you can relax outside in Villa Koegui’s decked courtyard, surrounded by restful greenery.
Built in 1907, this imposing edifice of the Belle Époque is Biarritz’s jewel in the crown. Located in an elevated position near the beach and cliff top lighthouse at the quieter northern end of town, this recently renovated, five-star star hotel offers 65 beautifully appointed, sound-proofed rooms and suites. The magnificent Great Gatsby-inspired lobby, with its vast glass atrium, has to be seen to be believed. Drop in for a coffee at Cafe N or book dinner at La Regina’s main restaurant, Iqori, known for its spectacular ocean views. During the day, pamper yourself at the luxury spa or sunbathe by the outdoor pool. You can even improve your golf skills at the Phare golf course, adjacent to the hotel.
Located right in the middle of the pedestrianised Place Bellevue, Le Café de Paris is set back, high above the promenade of Grande Plage. Each of the 19 rooms and suites comes with a bird’s-eye view of the seafront and ocean beyond; some have balconies complete with sun beds. Downstairs, you’ll find a trendy bar and restaurant, which opens out on to the terrace at the front. The beach is only a few minutes’ walk away, yet you are right in the middle of Biarritz’s trendy boutique shopping area.
Once a charming and refined late-19th century villa, today Maison Garnier is a very good value boutique hotel with a B&B feel. Located in a pleasant residential neighbourhood, yet only a short walk to the beaches, Maison Garnier is a welcoming abode with a personal touch. Your beautifully presented breakfast is served in a bright dining room and you can relax on period furniture in the cosy salon. All seven well- appointed rooms are soundproofed from the street below for a good night’s sleep, two of which have their own balcony. As an upmarket, economical base for exploring Biarritz, Maison Garnier is ideal.
A former private mansion, this stylish, friendly hotel has been owned by the same family for more than three generations. With the beach on your doorstep, beach towels and sun umbrellas are freely available at reception for a day of sea and sunshine. The 48 rooms at Le Windsor have all been renovated with modern, stylish decor – a few of the rooms have dual sea aspect. Relax downstairs in the bright bar and sitting area with its interesting books to peruse and music from old vinyls playing in the background. A delicious buffet breakfast is served in the spacious breakfast area, or go continental in your room.
This restored turreted manor house is a haven of tranquillity. Set away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre in the leafy Parc d’Hiver district, the feel of this intimate boutique hotel is one of tradition meets present day. Eight spacious suites, all with marble bathrooms, provide a quiet retreat. Take breakfast at a huge marble table under crystal chandeliers, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening onto the countryside. During the day, lap the heated 25 metre outdoor pool before settling down for a champagne cocktail in the grand, baroque-inspired salon come evening. You can even order a Rolls-Royce transfer from the airport to get your well-earned luxury break off to a star-studded start.
A centrally located, boutique hotel close to Les Halles, Hôtel de Silhouette is slightly removed from the street, making it a peaceful little oasis. One of the oldest buildings in Biarritz, it was once inhabited by a minister to Louis XV, and retains its grand feel, though its decor is entirely contemporary. The dining and bar area are brightly lit, and lead on to a surprisingly large, shaded courtyard garden where you can drink and dine in style. Some of its 20 beautifully appointed rooms and suites have access to the garden, while others have balconies with ocean glimpses.
Very close to the tranquil, family-friendly cove of Port Vieux Beach, and within easy reach of the aquarium and famous Rocher de la Vierge, La Gamaritz is the perfect family hotel. With its walk-in showers in all rooms and colourful quirky decor, you can’t help but be drawn to the fun vibe here. The family sleeps up to four people. Breakfast is available downstairs – choose from the all-you-can-eat buffet or try some Basque country delicacies, such as Itxassou black cherry jam on fresh baguette.
If it’s a country estate you are craving, look no further than this 19th-century château. Located just 4km (2.5m) from the centre of Biarritz, it feels like a world away, set within a landscaped park adorned with roses, magnolias and rhododendrons. The upscale rooms are divided between the main house, where the historic ambience prevails, or there are more contemporary options in the outbuildings. There’s also a Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Atelier, showcasing the very best in local produce.
This 19th-century mansion house was once the summer residence of the mayor of Biarritz, Dr Henri Adéma, and even Napoleon III reputedly came to visit. Today, the 18 rooms are beautifully decorated in an art deco style with signature wallpapers by celebrated French brand Pierre Frey. There is also a pleasant conservatory area where guests can enjoy a gourmet breakfast showcasing local products. Found just 200 metres from the beaches, this three-star hotel is also close to the city’s culinary district.
With its floral wallpapers, vintage furniture and cosy atmosphere, there’s a touch of grandma’s living room about this friendly little hotel. Found in a listed building dating from the 19th century, there’s certainly no shortage of character here. The guestrooms are welcoming, and the breakfast is the perfect mix of sweet and savoury. Located in the heart of Biarritz, the Grand Plage is also just a few minutes’ walk away.
Found in a traditional townhouse, this serviced co-living space is ideal for digital nomads, flexible professionals and business travellers. Perfect for catching the best of the surf, it’s not far from the beach, but also has a dedicated workspace. There are 14 private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, two private rooms with shared bathrooms and three shared rooms that also share bathrooms. Then there’s the large communal kitchen where you can cook up a storm with new-found friends.
Caroline Harrap contributed additional reporting to this article.
Looking for something a little more affordable? Take a look at our selection of the best cheap hotels and hostels in Biarritz.
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