The Hotel Negresco is a five-star luxury hotel located on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. It is one of the few surviving hotels of the early 20th century and one of the last independent establishments of this class. Its facades are based on a neoclassical framework, with opulent, quasi-baroque ornamentation. Like the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, the Ritz in Paris and the Hotel Astoria in Brussels, it is one of the most famous luxury hotels. It is one of the symbolic places of the city of Nice.
The facades and roofs of all the buildings facing the four streets as well as the large central hall known as the 'royal lounge' with its glass roof were listed as historic monuments. It was also awarded the '20th Century Heritage' label and is now classified as a Living Heritage Company.
Henri Négresco, born Alexandru Negrescu, the son of an innkeeper, worked in his youth as a pastry chef at the Casa Capsa in Bucharest. He left Romania and moved first to Paris, then to Monte Carlo, and finally to Nice: during this time, he studied and worked as a butler for various families, including the Rockefellers, as a hotel maître D, before becoming director of the Municipal Casino of Nice. He had the idea of building a luxury hotel that would attract the wealthiest clients: having obtained the financing. Thanks to the interest of some automotive magnates such as De Dion-Bouton and Pierre Alexandre Darracq, he hired the architect Édouard Niermans.
The hotel was inaugurated on 4 January 1913: it was built on a plot of about 6,500 square meters near the Villa Messéna and was inspired by Madrid's Grand Hotel. The hotel's symbol was its pink-painted dome. It had about 450 rooms with furniture by Paul Dumas, electrical switches and a hoover, an elliptical-shaped Louis XVI room paved with Carrara marble, a carpet costing over 300,000 francs, and a chandelier made by Baccarat with 16,800 crystals, initially commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, which had to be abandoned because of the October Revolution. In its early days, it made a six-monthly profit of over 200,000 francs. During the First World War, the hotel was turned into a hospital. At the end of the war, the low number of tourists coming to the Côte d'Azur, together with the huge amount of work needed to restore the structure, led Henri Négresco to bankruptcy, and the hotel was sold to a Belgian company.
In 1928, it was one of the founding members of The Luxury Hotels of Europe and Egypt, which later became The Leading Hotels of the World. In 1957, the hotel was bought by Jean-Baptiste Mesnage acquired the hotel in 1957. Mesnage then entrusted the hotel to his daughter Jeanne and her husband Paul Augier, a politically involved lawyer in Nice. The new owners began enriching it with numerous works of art, some 6,000 of them, including the Nana Jaune by Niki de Saint Phalle, portraits of monarchs such as Louis XIV, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud, Louis XV, Napoleon III, and Empress Eugenie, and numerous busts including that of Queen Marie Antoinette, the sculpture Le Chat by Cyril de La Patellière, a work by Sacha Sosno, paintings by Victor Vasarely, the largest private collection of posters by René Gruau, a monumental fireplace from Hautefort Castle and the 18th century coffered ceiling from Miolans Castle in Saint-Pierre-d'Albigny. Jeanne Augier also bought furniture from antique shops to furnish the lounges, 21 suites, and 96 rooms.
In 2003, the Hôtel Negresco was declared a historical monument by the French government. From 4 January to 1 July 2010, it was closed for renovation for the centenary celebrations: the fifth floor was completely renovated, becoming entirely private, with a direct lift, nine suites, a bar, and a dining room. Jeanne Augier, who died without descendants in 2019, decided to leave the Negresco and her inheritance to the Mesnage-Augier-Negresco foundation, whose statutes were deposited with the prefecture on 17 April 2009: the foundation focuses its activities on the protection of animals, assistance to disabled people and the preservation of the French cultural heritage, particularly that of the Négresco and its collections.
The Hôtel Negresco has a total of 121 rooms and 24 suites, a beauty salon, a gym, a private beach, and a luxury boutique. It also has its own art studio, which employs a restorer, a stonemason, an upholsterer, and two cabinetmakers from the École Boulle. There is no spa or swimming pool in the hotel, but it does accept animals: a particular case when Salvador Dali was housed with his cheetah.
Its doormen are characteristically dressed in typical 18th-century upper middle-class clothing. Inside the hotel is Le Chantecler restaurant, which has two stars in the Michelin guide. The interior is decorated with sprites and rococo furniture and is painted pink, lime and lemon.