Famed for its balmy climate, glitzy nightlife and champagne-swilling celebrities, the Côte d'Azur isn't generally known for its affordable hotels. However, the Hôtel Windsor in Nice is a stylish exception to the rule and something of a favourite among fans of cheap chic. A boutique hideaway set a few blocks back from the seafront, it's an arty, bohemian place that will leave you with more than enough change to blow your budget in town.
Around 20 of the hotel's 54 bedrooms have been turned into works of art by a team of contemporary artists including Glenn Baxter, Olivier Mosset and Jean Le Gac. Ranging from the sophisticated to the mad, all the rooms are unique. Baxter's paintings of an Indiana Jones-esque explorer add a touch of the fantastical as does the Ben-Hur music playing in the bathroom.
Art hasn't been restricted to the bedrooms, and the main public areas have been tastefully decorated with a boho slant. A huge Buddha sits serenely next to a beautiful antique Chinese day bed in the lobby, while the lift has been adorned with a mural of a rocket about to launch. A small outside garden is both the setting for breakfast and the home of a tiny plunge pool. Crammed with tropical plants and the recorded sound of jungle birds tweeting in the background, it's a kitsch and camp world away from the sophisticated atmosphere of the Côte d'Azur.
Hôtel Windsor, 11 rue Dalpozzo, Nice, France (00 33 4 93 88 59 35; w ww.hotelwindsornice.com).
Situated a few blocks back from the Promenade des Anglais, Hôtel Windsor is close enough to the action, but far enough from the bustling main streets. The beaches along the seafront are pebbly and crowded but free to use. Nice is a city for art lovers and both the Matisse museum and the Musée des Beaux-Arts are worth a visit. Explore the windy streets of the baroque old town, the city's prettiest quarter and in the mornings head to the main square for the daily market.
Time from international airport: the 15-minute cab ride from Nice airport costs around €34 (£23). Alternatively, you can take bus 98 from the airport to the Meyerbeer stop, from which the hotel is a five-minute walk.
Apart from the decoration, the rooms are fairly simple. Some of the "non-artist" rooms are decorated with classical frescoes or old posters. Our frescoed room was small but perfectly comfortable with two soft beds, a sizeable wardrobe and tables on which to pile guidebooks. The adjoining white bathroom was simple but functional with a big bath and strong power shower.
Freebies: the affordable price means that the rooms are sadly lacking in plentiful freebies, although there are morning newspapers by the pool and soap in the bathrooms.
Keeping in touch: telephone and satellite television in rooms. Free access to the internet is available in the lobby and a free Wi-Fi connection is available on request.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Doubles start at €110 (£75) room only. Breakfast is €11 (£8) per person.
I'm not paying that: From November the rate for a double at the Windsor falls to €85 (£61). Alternatively, the Hotel de la Gare at 38 rue d'Angleterre (00 33 4 93 88 75 07) is adequate and cheap; €46 (£33) per double, room only.Reuse content