Les Roches Rouges: objet d’amour


Les Roches Rouges: objet d’amour

Photographer Polly Brown starts married life with a dip in Slim Aarons territory on the Côte d'Azur

Polly Brown

BY Polly Brown15 February 2022

Traveling along the Côte d’Azur from Nice by train gives flirtatious glimpses of the Mediterranean at every tilting bend. Mr Smith (my husband of one day; this is our honeymoon) and I tumble out at a deserted station and walk across the tracks to the entrance of Les Roches Rouges.

The hotel’s structure is partially built into a cliff face so we’re ushered through its airy lobby and onto its upper terrace to be met by a stunning seascape. The staff, perhaps reading our hungover expressions, immediately present us with deliciously sticky orange Campari cocktails while our bags are taken to our room and we’re talked through what’s on offer at our new home.

(Side note: This is the first of many experiences of Les Roches Rouges’ excellent glassware collection. A weird thing to notice perhaps, but every drink you order will come in a different, wonderfully perfect vessel. Anyway…)

As we sip our drinks on the sun-drenched balcony we look out over a never ending expanse of blue. Perched on the very edge of the water, the hotel leaves you with just two views, sky and sea; great streaks across your vision glimmering from one side all the way to the other.

After regaining some brain function, we navigate our way down the elevator system to our sea-gazing room. Throughout, the hotel is elegant without being ostentatious, simple while still luxurious. The décor sparse yet somehow still cosy; lots of wood-panelled corridors and polished concrete floors.

Waiting for us in our room is some champagne on ice which turns out to be a surprise gift from my new brother-in-law and, popping the cork, we collapse happy to have arrived onto a giant cloud-like, linen-lined bed. The French doors are already open onto our private balcony and, through the fluttering cotton curtains, is that sparkling sea again; a view that seems impossible to escape anywhere you go in the hotel.

Having recouped we venture out, descending a few storeys to the pool area on the ground floor. It’s dotted with white umbrellas and orange cushioned chairs with gigantic sofas for lounging on, bookcases for perusing and various board games which seem to attract the ever competitive Mr Smith like a magnet. (He quickly sets up a backgammon score sheet which, by the end of our stay, I’m thankfully thrashing him at.)

On the other side of the open-plan area is the restaurant which spills out onto the main terrace (Hint: sit too close to the railings and the occasional wind-and-wave combo will sprinkle you with a salty spray).

Directly to the right of the restaurant’s seating area, and slightly sunken, is the first of the hotel’s two pools. (As soon as he sees it Mr Smith runs right back to our room to don his swimming shorts.) It’s heated; narrower and longer than the second and perfect for doing lengths. Or, in the case of overexcited new husbands, just frolicking about in and instigating who-can-hold-their-breath-underwater-for-the-longest competitions.

Further along is the shallower pebble-bottomed sea-water pool right next to the surf. Perfect for when the sea looks too daunting for a dip but you still fancy something a bit more bracing than a heated pool. There is also a second bar, a boules area and various borrowable water sports paraphernalia. Polo-shirted waiters are on hand to assist, advise and serve up all manner of deliciousness. They’re completely un-judging when we have two breakfasts one morning and martinis for lunch.

There are many attractions and picturesque walks around the area but, guiltily, we don’t even want to leave the hotel. We spend the next few days immersed in one kind of water of another: sea, pool, shower or spa. We kayak to a small island, the only real activity undertaken, and get matching massages in the spa where my new husband confesses his secret love of pampering. Backgammon battles are waged over a plethora of cocktails and a gargantuan amount of sleep is had – siestas, lie-ins, cat-naps and sun-lounger dozes…

Mr Smith even discovers that by putting a floating ‘water-noodle’ under his head and another under the crook of his legs he can sleep afloat in the heated pool which hilariously results in him getting sunburnt on the tops of his knees and with a sort of circle on his face where it has stuck above the water. It leaves him very rouge indeed. It’ll take a lot longer for the bliss of our Les Roches honeymoon to fade, though…

This review was first published in 2018 so some hotel details may have changed. All photos shot on a separate visit by Louis AW Sheridan

From her first published book, Plants, to later projects like Performances, photographer Polly Brown’s work always hints at a sense of the personal and the playful within the inanimate. Polly has exhibited regularly both in London and internationally and collaborated with a wide range of brands and institutions including the Frieze Art Fair, the ICA, Jil Sander, Loewe, Gucci, Miu Miu, Roksanda Ilincic and Givenchy. Her work has also featured in The Gourmand, AnOther Magazine, Vogue – and in our very own The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms book.