News & Reviews Europe France Review: Maybourne Riviera

Let’s start with the good news: my stay was significantly cheaper than expected.  Now for the bad: because they comped half the stay.

Maybourne Riviera is the latest opening from the previously London-centric Maybourne Group.  Their portfolio reads like a Best of London list: The Berkeley, Claridge’s and The Connaught.  With the recently opened Maybourne Beverly Hills, two things are clear: 1) Maybourne love their name and will squeeze it into any title they can, so expect Maybourne Haemorrhoids Cream to come to a shelf near you and 2) They’ve realised our government are useless and are fleeing the capital to set up elsewhere.  That’s why they earn the big bucks.

Built atop a rock that overlooks France, Monaco and Italy, it’s the perfect resort for those that need to quickly enter a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with their homeland. With 69 rooms, it is very clearly more French leaning. In just 20 minutes you can find yourself either in Monaco or by their communal, awful beach club.  These are the options you must endure to receive the absolutely gorgeous views.  It’s a wonderful feat of engineering – the way they’ve built into the cliff edge.  To give everyone the best of those views they made all the bedrooms ocean-facing with full floor-to-ceiling windows.  They just forgot one tiny ingredient to make a hotel work: being able to sleep.

Ah, but who wants to rest when you have views like this, said the cocaine-fuelled architect that never sleeps?

After a soft opening in September last year, they opened in May.  Yet based on their lack of preparation, I have to ask: has The Berkeley created a new trend of “finished, but not finished”?  Just like Reschio we saw what it could look like, what I would hope it will look like, but we came too early.  I guess really we only have ourselves to blame.  That and Maybourne.

I can forgive the gym being a tiny room with no view, which they plan to rebuild elsewhere, and the signature suites not being available was no biggie, but it’s the smaller details that surprised me, because most of the team here are from their London properties and I can’t believe that within the last nine months not a single other guest requested it.  Their thoughtfulness and proactivity was expected, but their lack of preparation was not.

For my first trick, I decided not to bother sending a stay list.  I was curious if they took everything from one of my 200 stays at The Connaught.  Their response was to pull a rabbit out of the hat.  Then drink its blood.

I’m not dramatic; you’re dramatic.

Ok, so not including any preferences surprised me, but not as much as them having no memory foam pillows or a baby duvet or children’s pool toys or cot bumpers cos kids are stupid and try and fight inanimate objects in their sleep.  It’s like they’d never seen or heard of a child before.

One captured in the wild

I had concerns before stepping foot on the property, as influencers seemed to be congesting here like a fungus.  Not to compare the two, as they’re nothing alike – fungus produces something useful.  Yet I get it.  When I saw how unfamily-friendly the hotel is, it made sense that a picture of someone being deep-throated in the pool would appeal to the clientele here.  Or whatever it is influencers do.   There’s no judgement here, it’s definitely designed for a younger crowd.  Whilst the clientele of Claridge’s are 170 years old and anxiously await their meal, knowing it might be their last, Maybourne Riviera is aiming at a different crowd – more like the grandchildren of the Claridge’s brigade or the vultures hanging around Claridge’s looking for a Sugar Daddy that is a meal away from kicking the bucket.

Where was I?  I think I said something about no judgement.  So in conclusion, it’s a much younger crowd and that’s fine.  We were one of only two families here with children, so it did make me wonder if they should go adults only, as they seemed so ill-prepared for the little creatures.

Yet why was this stay such an issue, you may be asking?  It’s because it seems like children were not the only demographic ignored, it also ignored those with eyes.

No eyes to be seen. Perfect guest.

I know I’m a stickler for black out blinds, but that wasn’t the problem here, it was that with all the curtains fully drawn you still had full visibility of the entire room, like the light had been left on.  At its most basic a hotel is a place you go to sleep, so getting that right should have been at least top 20 on the list.  There was a botched initial attempt to send maintenance, only for him to show up and just shrug his shoulder, a bit like me when I’m pretending to speak French, but really I’m yelling in English.  After that, they started to take it really seriously.

After this, every single person we interacted with was determined for us to have a good stay.  There was a lot of conversations with management and a palpable sense of determination from their team.  They offered us an upgrade to another suite to see if it would help, but it had exactly the same issue, so we declined. Engineering came the next day to work on a solution.  After years of training their moment had come.  The solution was to stick a load of towels at the top of the window to try and block the light, and you know what, their parents would be proud – it definitely helped.

They knew of all food allergies and preferences, were extremely proactive and clearly, desperately wanted us to enjoy ourselves.  They, strangely, came back to set the room up properly on the second night, including offering a polaroid camera, which I thought was a decent idea.  Housekeeping was perhaps a bit overzealous and would always remove everything, with us having to request things back.   At one point I was expecting “you didn’t look like you were using that laptop”.

What’s the meaning to life?

The purpose of Maybourne Riviera seems to be chill by the pool, eat food and enjoy the view.  There’s nothing wrong with that, as what I’ve described is most hotels.  Yet when there’s such amazing alternatives competing against you, you need something that truly defines you and I don’t think the architecture here is enough.  Everything felt very much like I’d seen it before.

There’s currently three restaurants, with a fourth coming later this year: Ceto, their Michelin star fish-based offering, La Piscine by Jean-Georges and the Riviera Restaurant.  Don’t be fooled by the advertisement of their Beach Club, they don’t own it and guests need to book a day in advance to get a bed.  Imagine booking something a day in advance just to get there and find a beach club with no beach.  It’d be like Christmas without fighting your in-laws – what a let down.  It does not have a quality that matches the rest of the resort and they would likely be better not to use it.

The food was brilliant – just as long as I exclude Ceto, which I found standard for a tasting menu offering: some was ok, some rubbish and some brilliant.  The pastries, in particular, stand out, much like their London properties. The only issue was during breakfast, with the slow service resulting in many annoyed people waiting for breakfast, including us.

The pool is the focal point of the property, with Jean-Georges casual dining and panoramic views making it the ideal place just to chill out.   In fairness, your only other option is by the Riviera Restaurant/Bar but don’t let that get in the way of a good story.  Just a few meters from the pool is their spa – a sauna, steam room and relaxation lounges, with all treatment rooms overlooking the pool and ocean. However not many people have a massage and choose between whale songs, Tibetan monks chanting or a 17-month-old screaming, but they might have needed to during our stay.

Blinding Lights

The rooms had a Villa La Coste vibe to them, which makes sense as they are similar owners (that’s a long, complicated, legal discussion, so I’ll leave it as “similar”), but I never much cared for the minimalism there and it didn’t warm to me here either.

I would not choose a Duplex Pool Suite again, but then none of the rooms had a look that screamed luxury.  There’s something about the minimalism and furnishings which didn’t make it feel comforting.  Our pool was really a gimmick as it’s so small and the floor around it is so hot that the only thing that made it more uncomfortable was knowing your neighbours could see you, as you can see them.

The separate living area, and guest bathroom with shower enhanced the room. Still, overall it missed the design that made somewhere feel so special like we experienced at nearby Cheval Blanc St. Tropez and Chateau de La Messardiere.

Then, not only did we have the curtains, which were like some Peeping Tom (no relation) installed them, but we could hear noise going on until nearly midnight, when then, of course, a firework display went off.  The light switches would make you squint to see what they did then still hit them and be surprised. The downstairs shower couldn’t get warm and looked like it wasn’t finished as the toiletries were just on the floor.  That’s what happens when you don’t pay the shower installer.

The Good

  • Food
  • Service recovery – perhaps even too good; it felt overkill – not that my bank manager complained.

The Bad

  • Being able to sleep

The Luxurious

  • Views
  • Food selection, particularly those pastries

Rating

Bad

Maybe Good next year.

Conclusion

If you have no children and you’re looking for nothing to do, but chill out and be poisoned by the light, then you’re in luck.  Once you get over the view, there’s nothing truly spectacular about the hotel.  I suppose you could say that about many hotels, once you realise that they’re all offering something similar, but with a Maybourne hotel, the reason they exist and I continue to return is they offer something extra.

I feel I’ve calmed down in life.  Yes, this is my calm review.  We still enjoyed ourselves, as the hotel offered enough to make a two-night trip enjoyable and they really tried to turn the stay around, but it’s not somewhere I’d consider returning.  Even ignoring the points they need to resolve, it just didn’t have that something special that warrants a return.

Maybourne Riviera is not a disappointment because the website is as underwhelming as the reality.  As will soon become my catchphrase, it is not a bad hotel, it’s simply not a great one, and due to that, you are better elsewhere.

Room type: Duplex Pool Suite Duration: 17 June > 19th June, 2022.  Approx. €5,500/n

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 16th Aug '22

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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