Carb-free high design at Les Roches Rouges on the Cote d’Azur
Member of staff with strong French accent: “The doors. You don’t like the doors, non?”
Me, with regular boring English accent: “Yes, they’re gorgeous. That’s why I’m photographing them.”
Member of staff: “Non, you don’t like them.”
Me: “I do, honestly.”
Member of staff: “No, you don’t. You’re not supposed to.”
Me: * puzzled face *
Member of staff: “You don’t. You don’t like the doors. And then they open, and you see the wonderful view, and it all makes sense.”
To be honest, I was still reeling from the 200 euros I’d just been charged for a taxi from Cannes to get to Les Roches Rouges, the reception area in which this exchange took place, so didn't argue.
For the record, I loved the doors, but he did have a point about the view.
The paint was barely dry when we rocked up at Les Roches Rouges, a new design hotel housed in an old Fifties block on the Cote d’Azur, a mere 200 euros away from Cannes (or about 50 km if you’re sensible and drive yourself).
A friend who’d visited just a few weeks before we did reported back that teething problems included getting locked in the bathrooms, no option for coffee delivery in the morning, the rooftop restaurant and bar not being open, and NO CHIPS (her caps, not mine).
I’m happy to report that all bathroom locks are now working just fine, the rooftop bar and restaurant were still closed as of late June when we visited, although I’m assured they are now open, coffee delivery to your table at breakfast is erratic, to say the least, (three different types came our way before we got what we ordered) and there are still no chips on the menu (no caps - I’m happy with my daily carbs coming in bread form when I’m in France).
But all of this is rather to miss the point at Les Roches Rouges, where design is of the essence, and everything else plays second fiddle – I attempted to move a casually flung basked in the kitchen area one morning, and was told that I was messing with the design and it absolutely had to be put back in its original spot.
And the design works. Boy, does it work. Bedrooms aren’t huge or stuffed with, well, stuff, but a gorgeous chair, a few artfully pinned Polaroids and statement pendant lampshades make for an even more intoxicating mix than the drinks you can whip up with the world’s most beautiful aperitif bottles, which – naturally – top the mini bar.
Communal areas are even better. There’s no cheesy, beside-the-seaside theme here; rather, someone has spent a lot of time to ensure the burnt orange of every chair compliments the blue of the sea view they stud – and that’s just the start of it. The main restaurant is a sandy haze of copper tiles, reclaimed sideboards and artfully presented French dishes, while the gardens and pool areas come dotted with storm lamps, stripy blue cushions and beautiful white loungers. Even the fire escape looks pretty, goddamnit.
Comfort does come into it, despite the crazy attention to detail. Sofas, that - I have it on good authority - took months and months to source, are just the right height with just the right slouch factor. Lazy day beds, meanwhile, have little nooks in just the right place to balance your glass of wine, and just the right chess board an arm’s stretch away.
The piece de resistance, however, is something that not even Milan’s most exclusive interior designers could provide: a salt-water pool carved from the rock that provides an even more gorgeous backdrop than the Mediterranean sea it looks over.
The French fries might be lacking, but the French flair at Les Roches Rouges is in plentiful supply.
Oh, and I got some clarification on the doors. They're not supposed to be ugly - that got lost in translation - they're supposed to be opaque, to ensure you only get the full reveal of the view once they're open, and not a second before. See, I told you, design and attention to detail, and not a centimetre unaccounted for.