An excellent stay in the South of France: A review of the Le Meridien Nice
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I needed a break. After over a year of work-from-home and writing countless stories, I was looking forward to a couple of days at the beach. While many would choose Miami, Santa Monica or the Caribbean for a beach getaway, I picked Nice, France. I was already in Paris to cover France’s reopening to international tourists, so I was just a quick train ride away from “Nice la Belle.”
I stayed at the Le Meridien Nice during my stay in the city. It was my second time staying at a Le Meridien property — the other being Le Meridien Philadelphia. I had a great experience at that property, so I went into the Nice stay with high expectations.
Spoiler alert: I really liked the property. Its amazing location and service truly made the experience great, and an upgrade to a corner suite was an additional silver lining. There was nothing over-the-top about the hotel per se, but it checked all the boxes for a beach hotel. And honestly, that’s what I needed on this trip. Let’s take a closer look at my experience.
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I booked my stay at the Le Meridien Nice directly with Marriott. My nightly rate in June was $316 after VAT, but prices vary widely depending on when you book. For example, you can find rates as low as $169 per night in early December. Prices tend to be higher during the summer and fall months, so plan accordingly if you’re on a budget.
The property is a Marriott category 6 property, so you can redeem 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a standard award night. Off-peak award nights cost 40,000 points and on-peak awards cost 60,000 points per night. At the standard level, this property is an excellent use of a Marriott free-night certificate included with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
Speaking of which, you can use this card to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and other perks. The card includes immediate Marriott Gold Elite status (with the option to earn Platinum after spending $75,000 on your card), an annual $300 Marriott credit, an annual free night certificate and a Priority Pass Select membership. (enrollment required for select benefits). Furthermore, you’ll earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made on your new card at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership.
You can also leverage the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card for free stays at the Le Meridien Nice. The card currently offers three free nights (up to 50,000 points each) after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus, you can earn 10 total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores within your first six months from account opening.
The Le Meridien Nice has an incredible location for beach lovers. While not directly on the beach, it’s right across the street from Promenade Des Anglais and the Mediterranean Sea. You’re within walking distance of a handful of public and private beaches, restaurants and shopping. There are public bus stops nearby for quick transit around town, too.
The hotel doesn’t look like much from the outside. It’s in a somewhat worn-down building that takes up the better part of a city block. The first floor of the building is occupied by a casino and a McDonald’s and there’s a Mercure hotel on the right side of the building. It’s worth noting that these are in no way connected to the Le Meridien and all of the property’s amenities are private. There is also a beach across the street from the hotel that offers a discount to hotel guests. I’ll talk about this more later.
I arrived from Paris by train, and an Uber from the Nice train station took less than 10 minutes and was very inexpensive. Unlike my hotels in Paris, I showed up at the Le Meridien Nice after the stated 3 pm check-in time. I was met with a concierge desk when I walked into the building. Behind this was a row of electric scooters that you can rent by scanning a QR code on your smartphone. To the left is a pair of escalators you can take to the main lobby on the second floor of the building.
I walked up to the check-in counter and was greeted by a friendly front desk agent who thanked me for choosing the hotel. She informed me that I was upgraded to a corner suite for my two-night stay due to my Marriott elite status and quickly handed me my key card. She also gave me a bag of Nespresso pods and coffee cups. According to the agent, this is due to coronavirus protocols. I had to ring housekeeping or go to the front desk for more coffee pods.
There’s plenty of seating throughout the lobby, so you can use it as a cafe or workspace throughout your stay. There’s also a restaurant and bar area in the lobby. This is where breakfast is served in the morning — including free breakfast for Marriott elites. The whole lobby was very bright and had a modern vibe and while it didn’t feel luxurious per se, it felt premium.
I took the elevator to my floor and was met with blue hallways and chic furniture on the way to my room.
I quickly found my room and unlocked the door. I was immediately impressed by how large my upgraded room was, especially since I booked a standard room. This isn’t a traditional suite, though. There’s one large room with a bed and a large seating area. It opens to a large bathroom and a huge patio which I’ll discuss later in this section.
Right next to the door is an oddly placed Nespresso machine on top of a cabinet. Underneath was a mini-fridge. Oddly, there was no ventilation for the fridge, so the whole unit was very hot throughout my stay. I kept the cabinet door open for the entirety of my time in the room to ensure it didn’t overheat.
Across from this was a couch, chair and a table. This seating area served as my desk during the stay and provided a comfortable place to work. There was a note from the hotel, two water bottles and a box with two packaged cookies. This is a nice touch and it made me feel like my Marriott loyalty was truly appreciated at this hotel.
Next to the seating area was an extremely comfortable king bed flanked by nightstands on both sides with plugs and USB chargers. My only issue with the bed was the placement — in the center of the room, it made getting around the rest of the room difficult. There is only a little bit of space in front of the bed, so you have to squeeze around it to get to the patio. The TV was awkwardly placed across from the bed.
That said, the view from the bed was incredible. There’s something special about waking up in the morning and seeing the Mediterranean when you open your eyes. This is worth the nightly rate alone if you can get a sea-facing room.
Behind the bed is a long table and a lamp. There’s also a large closet with a safe behind the bed. The closet is massive and was more than adequate for my bags.
To the right of the closet is a small water closet with a toilet. Like most French hotel rooms, this is a small space but more than adequate for its intended purpose.
The washroom is to the left of the water closet and is absolutely massive with a shower, bathtub and a huge vanity with two sinks. The whole bathroom was very modern and everything worked great. I was a huge fan of the rainfall shower which was much needed after my five-hour train ride from Paris to Nice. And there are sweeping views of the Mediterranean from a wall of windows on the far side of the washroom, too. Next to the Le Roch Paris, this is the nicest hotel washroom I’ve experienced in Europe.
You’ll find upscale Malin + Goetz individual toiletries on the sink. I much prefer this to shared toiletries found in many hotels.
Now for the star of the show: the patio. This corner suite has a large patio that wraps around the side of the building with a perfect view of the Mediterranean. Again, it’s amazing to wake up every day with this view and eat breakfast (more on that soon) with the waves crashing in the background. On the patio, you’ll find a table with two chairs and two loungers that recline fully. I spent a good amount of time on the patio during my stay, working at the table or unwinding after a long day.
To summarize, this suite upgrade was great, but I wouldn’t say it’s a traditional suite. The room itself wasn’t super impressive — the bed was awkwardly placed and there was no divider for the living and sleeping areas, something that’s pretty standard for a suite. But the views, bathroom and patio are nothing short of incredible. If you’re upgraded to this room, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy it.
The Le Meridien Nice has everything you’d expect from a four-star hotel. There’s a fitness room stocked with weights, cardio equipment and even a SMEG refrigerator for your water bottles. This was open during my June visit despite some ongoing COVID restrictions in France. You will also find a full-service spa on-site that where you can choose from a variety of treatments.
There’s also a rooftop pool which is accessible to all hotel guests. The pool offers great views of the city and you can order drinks from the rooftop bar.
While the property isn’t located directly on the beach, it has a partnership with a local beach — Le Galet — that’s located right across the street and offers a discounted entry price of 21 euros per person with your hotel keycard. You can order food and drink right to your assigned beach chair or head over to the restaurant seating area for more formal service.
Related: TPG staff’s 15 favorite hotel pools
Food and beverage
There are two restaurants and bars at Le Meridien Nice. One is located in the lobby and is where you’ll find breakfast service each morning. Platinum and Titanium Elite members can choose breakfast as an amenity and can choose to eat it downstairs or in their room. Room service has a 5 euro upcharge but is 100% worth it in my experience. This is especially true if you have an ocean view room.
If you opt for room service, simply fill out the breakfast card left in your room and leave it on your door handle at night. Breakfast arrived promptly at my scheduled time and the order was correct. Admittedly, my travel companion and I may have ordered just a little too much, though, as the portions were massive. All of the food tasted fresh and was warm upon arrival at the room.
There’s also a rooftop restaurant — La Terrasse — that serves lunch, dinner and drinks. I stopped by for dinner and enjoyed my meal with a view. You can choose from indoor or outdoor dining, but note that outdoor dining fills up quickly when the weather is nice. Call ahead for a reservation if you plan to visit during peak times.
I started with a local craft beer and a beef tartare appetizer. Both were great and served promptly after ordering. The appetizer was fresh and tasty. As you’d expect from any French restaurant, it was served with fresh bread. The waitress later brought a complimentary meatball appetizer, which was a friendly touch from the kitchen.
The entree menu mostly consisted of French traditional foods and seafood, which is appropriate given its location. I had a shrimp and vegetable dish with frites for my main course. Like the beef tartare, it was excellent.
The waitress talked highly of the dessert menu and recommended that I order the cake and ice cream sampler. It was excellent; each of the cakes had a different filling and was accompanied by fresh ice cream. The waitress also gave me a complimentary dish of pastries with my espresso. Needless to say, I left La Terrasse impressed … and extremely full.
La Terrasse also acts as the hotel’s rooftop bar. There’s bar seating or you can order to the pool or a table. You’ll find a selection of beers, wines and cocktails available for order.
I was very impressed by my dining experiences at Le Meridien Nice. The service was excellent and the food was amazing, especially for a hotel restaurant. I’d go as far as to say that Le Meridien’s breakfast is among my favorite hotel breakfasts I’ve experienced thus far. The combination of the food and being able to eat from the comfort of my room’s patio was excellent.
The service at the Le Meridien Nice was great. The check-in agent, the waitress at La Terrasse and everyone else I talked with were extremely friendly and wanted to make sure I had the best experience possible. Housekeeping came daily and made the room spotlessly clean. This hotel should act as a model for other Marriott properties around the world, especially in the U.S.
I was impressed with my stay at the Le Meridien Nice. Sure, the hotel doesn’t offer over-the-top luxury, but it doesn’t have to. The rooms are solid, the service is great and the location is excellent. I was also very impressed with the on-site amenities for a four-star property. The rooftop pool and discounted access to a private beach made this hotel feel more like a resort in the middle of a city. My only complaint is the room’s awkward design — I’d like to see it reimagined in a way that makes it easier to move around.
Feature photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy
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