Cannes and Nice normally hog the limelight on the Côte d’Azur, but in Menton you can find your dream French Riviera retreat, including 19th-century villas and royal residences. Here’s our pick of the best hotels in Menton, bookable on Culture Trip.
Basking blissfully on the Italian border between the Alpes-Maritimes and the Mediterranean, Menton is blessed with a unique microclimate, a few degrees warmer than elsewhere on the Côte d’Azur. This explains the long tradition of citrus cultivation, speckling the landscapes in seasonal yellow.
Who said a budget-seeker’s chain hotel had to be boring and stuck in a business park? A towel’s throw from the beach, this ibis is a haven of cool and contemporary all-white rooms, nodding to the ever-present, sun-streaked Med with blue, green and yellow accents; some have balconies or terraces with bistro seating or loungers looking over the terracotta rooftops of the Italianate Old Town. Breakfast is served in a space as ray-flooded as the rooms – that’s your excuse to graze through Menton’s homely bistros, redolent of Italian and French influences.
Hotels in Menton get no more historic than this 1865-built former residence of the Prince of Monaco’s Carabiniere. Sea-facing, it’s a jewel’s throw from the summer residence of Prince Antonio I of Monaco. Enhancing the heritage are vintage posters in lobbies and corridors, singing the praises of the classic Côte d’Azur. Recently revamped rooms are neutrally decorated and light-filled, with atmospheric back-lit headboards and heart-stopping sea or mountain views. Bronze on the private beach just 50m (164ft) from the hotel, relax in the palmy gardens and admire the Med from the terraced bar before a fresh-prawn feast at the Petit Prince restaurant.
Perfectly positioned on the Promenade du Soleil, Le Dauphin, on the seafront, is a corker, with its simply styled rooms: Med- or mountain-view (or up the ante with one that has both). The comforts are contemporary, among them rainfall showers – unless you’d rather a bath. Take your time over your crisp breakfast croissants on the flower-filled terrace before planning your day’s sightseeing from the rattan-chaired lobby lounge, as indolent as an old conservatory. How best to spend a beautiful blue day? Maybe a visit to the fragrant Jardin d’agrumes du Palais Carnolès, a delightful park devoted to – what else? – citrus trees.
Perhaps the perfect moment at this 19th-century villa, now an eco-and-budget-friendly hotel, is organic breakfast in the pretty garden, abundant with lemon, palm and banana trees. It’s a rare day when the sun doesn’t shine, but downpours can be laughed off in the cool, tiled dining room with its attention-grabbing antique armoire. Rooms follow the same palette: warm parquet or hardwood flooring, shades of white and bathrooms bright-red or lemon-yellow, where you rinse off the sea salt with organic bath products. Top tip: visit the nearby Jean Cocteau Museum, revealing the artist’s talents as poet, artist, film director and designer.
P&V have practically cornered le marché in characterful self-catering places to stay across France. And you’ll love with these 80 pastel-hued apartments sporting cute kitchenettes and balconies – everything you need for a chilled stay minus the fuss of hotel front desks and room turndown. Et voilà – the perfect balance of cheery seaside vacances and city break, about 500m (1,640ft) from the delightful Old Town and harbour, with the beach even closer. You can also nip to the local shops for seasonal and regional specialities. It’s the next best thing to being French.
Staying here, you’re so close to the Plage du Marché de Menton you can choose the spot for your towel from your window – or your balcony or terrace, depending on which room you book at this bright resort hotel. (You may get a city view – so specify what you want.) This is how to live la Riv: buttery breakfast pastries, trad Provençal lunch, dinner on the leafy restaurant terrace overlooking the palm-filled gardens. Walk the calories off in the photogenic Old Quarter, past pastel buildings and fish restaurants serving catch of the day from the local Menton fishermen.
An ornate wedding-cake white townhouse in the Old Town holds these modernised apartments, homely and comfy, with sunshine shades and shiny white kitchens. Coming down the grand marble staircase you’ll be bound to picture Grace Kelly, who holidayed in Menton. There’s a terrace tailor-made for steering your nose into that holiday novel, or don your spotless tennis whites for a volley on the court. You might join the regulars on the soft-sand beach, around 10-minutes’ walk away, or drive to the harbour (15 minutes away), for an evening aperitif.
What a fine four-star this beachfront hotel in Menton is, from the 46 Persil-clean balconied rooms in shades of oat and stone, to the dinky sun terrace, set out with loungers facing the infinite teal Mediterranean. The wellbeing space is 7th-floor heaven, with a view that ranges from Italy, just across the border, to Cap-Martin. Best way to start your day? Wrapped in a robe in your room devouring flaky pastries; or eggs al fresco on the terrace, which is heated outside of summer. Fancy a flutter? The casino is 500m (1,640ft) away. Just don’t blow all your holiday cash on the first night.
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