24-Hour Room Service: Hôtel du Palais Biarritz, France

Since it was converted into a hotel, the former summer mansion of Napoléon III and Empress Eugénie has attracted royalty and celebrities in droves. However, one thing that didn't reflect the stellar status of the Hôtel du Palais was the fitness room - located depressingly close to the outdoor pool lavatories.

All that has changed, following the opening of its Spa Impérial last summer - though, perhaps demonstrating that builders are the same the world over, it didn't quite manage to open its doors to impatient hotel residents in July as promised in the glossy brochure.

The offering includes a female-only terracotta hammam, and a separate slate-grey one for men, his-and-hers cold plunge pools and saunas, a Guerlain spa with nine treatment rooms, a hair studio, a gym boasting sea-views and an indoor pool capped by a Jacuzzi.

The whole shebang cost a whopping €10m (£7m) to build, but it is the biggest spa on France's south-west coast. The spa, spread over four floors in a building once occupied by hotel staff, adjoins a further two levels which include a crèche and relaxation area. It offers an array of top-to-toe treatments from Indian head-massage to medical foot-therapy. If you have to opt for just one, choose the shiatsu massage in the Japanese-style room which will unwind knots you never knew existed.

When you feel suitably pampered and purified, you can re-toxify with a glass or two of champagne in the Salon d'Eugénie and watch the Atlantic rollers crash on to shore.

The Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz was decorated by Philippe Belloir, who revamped the Ritz hotels in Paris and London. It has the feel of a luxury ocean liner, and is decked out with signed photos of guests including Winston Churchill and Coco Chanel. If you can tear yourself away from the spa, the hotel's outdoor pool area offers celeb-spotting opportunities. I clocked Kylie playing cards with her (now ex-) boyfriend Olivier Martinez in the shade of their cabana.

Spindly blondes with partners whose weight mirrors their bulging wallets, and families accompanied by nannies, are also part of the scene. For nutrition, you can go from grazing on your sun-lounger to the gastronomic delights of La Villa Eugénie, and everything in between - including great room service and canapés to accompany your Bellini beneath the chandeliers of the Bar Impérial.

LOCATION

Hôtel du Palais, 1 Avenue de l'Impératrice, 64200 Biarritz, France (00 33 5 59 41 64 00; www.hotel-du-palais.com). Set on a hill, it overlooks the sea and dominates the beach below, which you can access through a manned gate. Designer shops are a short credit-card-busting walk away.

Time from international airport: 15 minutes by taxi from Biarritz airport.

COMFORTABLE?

At this level of luxury, you can expect to feel as peeved as the princess with the pea under her mattress if there is the merest hint of discomfort. Owned by Biarritz City, the hotel is conscious of its history. Its décor is traditional and opulent, although its spaciousness lends a light touch. You should be more than happy with any of the 154 rooms, but if you are fabulously flush and fussy, book the new fifth-floor penthouse.

Freebies: all rooms have toiletries stamped with the Napoléon Eugénie initials.

Keeping in touch: rooms have satellite TV and internet access.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms from €310 (£221) excluding breakfast.

I'm not paying that: join the surfers kipping on the beach in the summer, or if you want something less exposed to the elements, rooms at the Hotel Florida (00 33 5 59 24 01 76; www.hotel-florida-biarritz.com) start at €80 (£57) excluding breakfast.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried