Riviera, Revisited

Modernism meets the Mediterranean at The Maybourne Riviera 

If your first visit to The Maybourne Riviera is on a radiantly sunny day—and this being the Côte d’Azur, it’s likely—prime yourself for a moment beneath the Louise Bourgeois steps through the glass-walled Riviera Restaurant to one of the clifftop hotel’s many terraces.

The extended wraparound terrace reveals the most incredible panorama. Below lies the grandeur of Monaco, its customary streak of superyachts gliding in and out of Port Hercules; to the left, beyond the terracotta rooftops of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, the last few kilometers of France give way to the promise of Italy. Time your arrival right and a dazzling spectacle faces you: a cavalcade of swooping, looping hang-gliders. The hotel’s airy aerie provides a thrilling foothold from which to observe their antics.

Hypnotizing as that spectacle is, aesthetes will find their attention drawn indoors. Years in the making, The Maybourne Riviera, with exterior design by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, provides a canvas for a generation of creatives: the interiors by André Fu, Bryan O’Sullivan Studio, Pierre Yovanovitch and Rigby & Rigby are bright and joyful. The Riviera Restaurant’s squishy chairs are a chipper cobalt-blue; sun loungers circling the infinity pool are vibrant bursts of tangerine. And museum-worthy artworks are strewn throughout, as if on show at a collector’s home. Any sense that grand hotels in the South of France need to be traditional is dispelled: it feels fun, not fusty or formal.



That playfulness is also on show at top-floor restaurant Ceto, recently awarded its first Michelin star, where cute centerpieces of delicately crafted glass sea creatures attract admiring glances. But the focus soon shifts to the Mediterranean delicacies of chef Mauro Colagreco, who led Mirazur, in nearby Menton, to the top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Locals were proud of that accolade, though it is hardly surprising that a restaurant in this bountiful idyll between mountains and sea would rank so highly; this is a place where everyday activities are infused with reminders of nature’s supremacy. 

Amble the walkways by The Maybourne’s Riviera’s restored gardens and you might catch a drift of fragrance from flourishing citrus orchards and herb beds. Within Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, a 2,000-year-old olive tree still bears fruit. And even in on-the-go, moneyed Monaco, at the venerable food market La Condamine, residents linger over aperitifs, their designer bags stuffed with fresh fruit and vegetables.


Of course, much of that fresh produce makes its way back to the hotel. Already a Maybourne mainstay through his relationship with The Connaught, Jean-Georges Vongerichten makes his South of France debut here. His eponymous restaurant will offer superlative sashimi and other delicacies with its sushi bar overseen by the renowned Japanese chef Hiro Sato. Benoit Dutreige’s creations are typically more calorific, and undoubtedly worth it: the pastry chef’s afternoon tea is pretty as a picture and comes complete with zesty Menton lemon tart and crumbly passionfruit and mango macarons.



A mid-afternoon nap pairs beautifully with a languid lunch and the hotel’s rooms and suites have been designed as sanctuaries in which to linger. Each one has a terrace offering its own knockout view; interiors are crisp and tranquil; mammoth marble bathtubs are irresistible. The hotel’s common areas are captivating too, with surprising, arresting artworks everywhere to admire. A number of mid-20th-century pieces by Le Corbusier are secreted here, alongside a dynamic sculptural work by Conrad Shawcross that is embedded in the corner of Riviera Restaurant, and a 2017 addition to Annie Morris’ poignant “Stack” series.



Of course, cultural pursuits also abound beyond the hotel’s grounds. Monaco’s creative cachet was bolstered by the 2021 opening of its own Hauser & Wirth gallery: the introductory Louise Bourgeois exhibition was announced to the public with one of the artist’s mammoth arachnids on a nearby lawn. Hauser & Wirth’s modern art is intended to push boundaries, but these surroundings have always compelled and inspired artists and creatives. Nearly a century ago, in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, pioneering architect and furniture designer Eileen Gray built villa E-1027: a striking bone-white modernist house that recently reopened to visitors after a five-year renovation. Gray’s prescient appreciation of space and proportion means the home could almost have been constructed today, and its clean, crisp form has influenced present-day designers the world over. A notable neighboring property, also open to visitors by prior arrangement, is considerably more rustic. Cabanon de Le Corbusier is a wooden cabin by the aforementioned Swiss-French architect, whose murals add a colorful jolt to plain interiors.


The mosaic pavements are inspired by architect Roberto Burke Marx’s work in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

The duo’s enduring legacy provides a poetic reminder that many of the pleasures they enjoyed remain readily available now. From their homes, it’s a short drive to the perfume capital of Grasse, where pastel-pink roses that bloom each May are integral to Chanel N°5. Visit in July and you should see purple pastures ablaze with lavender. Near Cannes, monks have resided on Île Saint-Honorat since the fifth century and their industriousness is admirable: among many duties, they tend the island’s eight-hectare vineyard, whose wines are available for sale.


The Panoramic suite has spectacular views.

Whichever crest of the Riviera calls your name, there’s always the irresistible lure of the sea. With endless sunshine draping shimmering diamonds on its surface, the Mediterranean is the star of the show, from the seaside cafés of Nice to the boisterous bars of Antibes. In Monaco, locals gravitate to the newly renovated Larvotto Beach, while The Maybourne Riviera guests can convene at the hotel’s Riviera Playa beach club, footsteps from the sea. That exclusive enclave also serves seafood by Colagreco, so it’s somewhere you could discreetly and effortlessly while away a day. But my favorite spot is back uphill, at The Maybourne Riviera, by the spa, on a lounger or in the infinity pool, gazing on an expanse of sea and air that is a deep, endless blue. And as dusk falls, the panorama becomes more spectacular still. The heavens turn mesmerizing shades of peach and plum and scarlet, as the sun sinks again into the mighty Mediterranean. 



To experience The Maybourne Riviera visit,  maybourneriviera.com. @themaybourneriviera 

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