I took this photograph of the Hotel Negresco out of the side window of the car on a trip back from Nice in September. This magnificent overblown wedding-cake style, belle-époque building, instantly recognisable by its pink domed roof, stands proudly on the Promenade des Anglais. The hotel celebrated its centennial in 2013. You can see five centuries of French history in the hotel’s art and furnishings, where portraits of Kings and Queens rub shoulders with more contemporary works by Sosno, Dali, Gruau, Moretti and Nike de Saint Phalle.
But what makes this iconic building even more special is its fascinating history. Built by Bucharest-born Henri Negrescou, who’d carved out a brilliant career within the hospitality sector. His vision was for a fabulous palace to attract the great and the good. Sadly, during WWI, the hotel was temporarily converted into a hospital which led to Negrescou’s financial downfall.
The hotel was sold to a Belgian company and then acquired by a Breton butcher, but it wasn’t until 1957 that it regained its former glory after M. Mesnage spent eight years renovating it together with his daughter Jeanne and her husband Paul Augier.
The current and sole proprietor, since the death of her husband in 1995, is the charismatic Mme. Jeanne Augier, an animal activist (the Negresco is a pet-friendly hotel) and art collector who has taken the hotel to new heights. She still lives in a private apartment on the top floor of the hotel with her two dogs and continues enriching the hotel with the incredible art collection that she has procured over the years.