At the regally named Hôtel Royal Riviera in Cap-Ferrat, an exclusive little peninsula dripping beautiful people in Gucci and Cartier, a dashing Frenchman named Gérard folds fluffy towels, and charms guests while they soak up the last rays by the pool, as he has done for the past 20 years.

Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat is a millionaire's hideaway on the Côte d'Azur, where pool attendants look like Julio Iglesias and poodles are still the traditional accessory. The Royal Riviera, a candy-floss pink-and- vanilla palace with mint-humbug canopies and wrought-iron balconies, was originally a kind of prototype timeshare: a résidence hôtelière for the British aristocracy dating back to 1904.

Inside, the tones of Provence contrast with the saccharine exterior. Recently renovated, all signs of the belle époque era have been erased and ancient Greece is now the inspiration – although how the zebra skin in the bar fits in is anyone's guess. In the perfectly manicured gardens, birds tweet and fountains tinkle. The shiny idyll is completed with views from the terrace of swaying palms and a sparkling azure sea – only tarnished by businessmen pacing the private beach screeching into their mobiles.

Location, location, location

The Royal Riviera is at 3 avenue Jean Monnet, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France (00 33 4 93 76 31 00,, situated midway between Monaco and Nice.

Time to international airport: Nice airport is half an hour by taxi (about Fr400 or £38). Alternatively, the number 111 bus from Nice bus station runs every 20 minutes along the Basse Corniche, and costs Fr12.50 (£1.20). The hotel can arrange private transfers for Fr700 (about £66).

Are you lying comfortably?

There are 77 rooms and suites, some of which are still undergoing renovation, so if you have an aversion to pastels, florals and blonde wood, make sure you book one of the completed rooms on the first floor.

Freebies: a half-bottle of champagne and a plate of divine miniature pastries courtesy of the choux chef.

Keeping in touch: all rooms have direct-dial telephones.

The bottom line

Mountain-view rooms start at Fr1,200 (about £114), while a suite with garden and sea view costs from Fr3,950 (about £376).

I'm not paying that: then what are you doing in this playboys' paradise? Hôtel le Panoramic, 3 avenue Albert 1er (00 33 4 93 76 00 37), has rooms from Fr600 (about £57).