Pinnacle of Luxury: Hotel du Palais 

By Shereen Shabnam

Biarritz was always a place I read about in books and I fell in love with it the minute I got off the train. Facing the Ocean Atlantic and on the beach “La Grande Plage de Biarritz” near the city center of Biarritz, the prestigious seaside deluxe Hotel du Palais of Biarritz was breathtaking at first sight.

Walking into the reception area, I had images of the past filled with memories of Gala evenings and stately affairs of the past era. During my visits to France, I always go back in time when I experienced the best of all that a luxury resort can offer at Hotel du Palais.

During meals at Hotel du Palais, I was never left alone and met luxury travellers who come from all over the world to revel in the past, share travel stories and genuinely want to know more about places, people and memories that inspires their next travel adventure.

Visitors love Hotel Du Palais and come during different times in the year to enjoy this fabulous setting, warm welcome, elite service, charm and comfort. It is indeed a living souvenir of the history of Biarritz, France and Europe. The “Villa Eugénie”, now the Hotel du Palais, was constructed in 1855 by Napoléon III for his wife Eugénie de Montijo.

No matter how many times I go back to France, the memory of this visit is as fresh and alive in my mind. The clear blue sea at my doorstep reminds me of my home country, Fiji Islands. I still visualise the elegance and the deco in every corner of the hotel.

My favourite time was in the mornings having breakfast while writing my articles and gazing at the blue waters overlooking the hotel. Meeting inspiring people who I read about in magazines, owners of the most luxurious brands in France and artists who take time to sit and share ideas is surreal. Highlight of my visit was meeting the founders of a spa well known all over the world and sitting with them over a meal are examples of some of the friendly encounters you can expect at Hotel du Palais.

I enjoyed exploring the hotel knowing that it was special to Napolean. The main hall, the private salons, the dining room and the grounds have all maintained their Second Empire style. A style that defines Biarritz and assures its reputation as an amazing sea resort, it is this charm, touched with elegance, deluxe and personal that makes this hotel one of a kind.

This picturesque seaside town became a favourite with European royalty in the 19th Century, who fell in love with its pretty beaches, warm climate and relaxed atmosphere. The Hotel du Palais has played host to stars of screen and other luminaries since the 1950s and 60s and offers a timeless glamour and luxury rarely found in today’s resorts.

Biarritz has a lot of beautiful buildings to offer today amongst which, the Hotel du Palais stand out. It’s a vibrant cosmopolitan town with magnificent beaches, golf courses and numerous sporting facilities, not forgetting the surf. Surfing started in France here in Biarritz and surfers come from all over the world to ride the waves.

The Hotel du Palais has practiced and perfected the art of receiving people. In the public areas and guest rooms the original Second Empire style has been retained, with period furniture, original works of art and high decorated ceilings.

This is the place to stay for the ultimate Biarritz experience. Guests can lounge by the pool with a cocktail, or head to the nearby beach for some sunbathing, surfing or people-watching. I enjoyed walking on the beach in the evenings just before sunset.

I enjoyed the world of the Spa Imperial with Guerlain dedicated to well-being, relaxation and fitness. It is the most transforming and customized Spa experience, where cutting edge innovation unites with luxury, emotion and sensuality. It comes with an indoor swimming pool, sauna, stream rooms, fitness center and a beauty parlour with a Hair Care Institute.

Food in France is always a talking point and the great dining experience at the hotel’s restaurants and lounges provide guests with an unforgettable culinary experience.

The hotel has a boutique, hairdresser, heated sea-water swimming-pool with direct access to the beach, solarium, sauna and a golf pitching green. For the active guests, there is the option of playing tennis, golf and horse riding.

There are a number of interesting museums in the area, including the Biarritz Marine Museum with its underwater viewing area, and the rather indulgent Chocolate Museum, which offers tasting sessions. The Historical Museum of Biarritz is situated in a former church and tells the story of the town’s transformation from tiny fishing village to high-society resort.

Hotel du Palais is obviously an address of undeniable prestige and one of the last great palaces around where guests can enjoy being treated like royalty. I felt regal throughout my stay and it has become one of my top destinations in Europe.

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