The recently opened 5-star luxury hotel in the heart of Nice on the French Riviera demonstrates that the upper classes never runs out of cash, even in the most dismal economic times. The Boscolo Exedra continues to live the spirit of the original Belle Époque building – as the refurbished contemporary version of the creativity, ingenuity and originality of that lavish historic period.
The building has kept its sumptuous, classical, pure Belle Époque façade and opulent interior decor, inspired by 18th century Rococo, which apparently has been painstakingly restored. The original building was designed in 1913 by the renowned architect Charles Dumas, right at the end of the Belle Époque – which could make you wonder what the refurbishment says about our time. Located in the heart of the city and set in green surroundings, on the quiet main boulevard, the hotel was originally with intention built far from the more popular lively areas, to cater for a wealthy middle-class clientele that preferred tranquil exclusivity to the crowds of the seafront promenade.
The common areas and rooms have apparently now been refurbished to become symbols of a refined contemporary approach that harmoniously blends with the original Louis XVI style. What I particularly like about it is the spacious feel that the whole place seems to breathe, and the organic shapes – for example of the marble-columned grand hall, which is said to be roofed in with multicolored glass. According to panachemag.com, the hall leads to a vast and exquisitely decorated dining room. On the other side is the immediately visible sculptural bar with its gentle, flowing lines of white Corian. The floor to ceiling wall paneling and the breakfast room’s floor are made of Burma teak, most certainly having contributed to rainforest destruction; an abundance of vegetation and modern vases provides a contemporary and luxurious ambiance.
Some of the rooms feature a common modular system with expandable living space. Refined finishing touches, such as marble and blond wood flooring as well as the ivory and cream hues of the walls set off the elegant white and gold furnishings of pure and rigorous shape, softened by refined details, at times recalling the decorative motifs of the past. The conference center too maintains the use of harmonious forms, adding a Venetian-style floor with red glass inserts that physically asserts itself in the rooms; however, its style is more dynamic, in keeping with the kind of work done inside. The hotel’s other large space is the roof terrace, which holds the sundeck, a restaurant with a view, and a swimming pool, whose subtle hidden light effects create suffused bands of light.
To me the hotel reflects the tension between beauty and class, between our ability and artistry to dream up and design allurement, elegance, refinement and style on the one hand and on the other have it become an expression of the inequality, social & environmental injustice and exploitative relationships in our society. And it is the latter that create the vast income and wealth gaps between the rich and poor and sustain the careless disregard for the natural environment that form the base for the creation of the material excesses and their aesthetics of class inspired beauty. The evocative, rich and distinct style of the Boscolo Exedra Hotel thus is an announcement and assertion of our society’s power structure; it mirrors the perpetual clash of beauty and ugliness found on so many levels in our daily lives.