On-line Guide: Le Relais Bar, Hotel Negresco, Nice
Le Relais has played witness to every Riviera character from Alain Delon to Jean Cocteau since 1913. As the hotel bar of Le Negresco, Nice’s grand dame establishment, its century of clientele reads like a globalised who’s who. From The Beatles to Nikita Khrushchev, from Pablo Picasso and Chinese President Xi Jinping (although the latter brought his own bed to the adjoining hotel). Le Relais has served them all.
The bar’s London club interior shouts of Cold War intrigue and red hot movie stars. Imbibers can still order a drink not seen since the Shah of Iran propped up the bar; like the Rossini (a Champagne Taittinger with crushed strawberries) or a French 75 (with gin, cane sugar and pressed lemons). But head barman Frédéric presides over an increasingly inventive cocktail list, laced with spirits as diverse as Japanese Yamazaki whisky and Compagnie des Indes rum from Fiji. Through summer the action spills onto a sublime seaview terrace.
It’s worth remembering that drinking Le Relais is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That is to say, it’s far from cheap. A verre du vin ranks among the cheapest menu items at €15. A peach bellini will set drinkers back €25. Such prices entitle you, or perhaps encourage you, to assault the free nibbles of tricolour olives, cheese grissini and smoked almonds. Best you do, as Le Relais’s cheeseburger is priced at €27.
One story sums up the Negresco’s enduring elegance. It’s said that Bill Gates once tried to buy the hotel from it’s former proprietor, Madame Augier, who passed away in 2019. She simply stated that Gates was “not rich enough.”
7 promenade des Anglais, +33 (0) 4 93 16 64 00