The Hôtel du Palais, in Biarritz: a palace steeped in history and elegance to (re)discover

After four years of work and a few intermittent reopenings, the Hôtel du Palais, unveiled for the 2021 summer season, finally reopened its doors on June 3, renovated, rejuvenated and embellished. The work made it possible to combine “21st century modernisme century and the challenges of ecological transition while preserving the DNA and soul of this legendary place”, says Alessandro Cresta, general manager of the place.

“The Hôtel du Palais, an emblematic palace of the city of Biarritz and the region, is a place full of emotions and history which must evolve in harmony with its local environment”he continues. “A festive place for decades, it aims to offer dreams, magic and enchantment for generations to come.”

The reopening of this mythical hotel, now accessible to customers all year round, is an opportunity for Biarrots as for others to reinvest it, to discover it or rediscover it, to enjoy its cuisine, its swimming pool Where of are spa.

The Hôtel du Palais aims “to offer dreams, magic and enchantment”, says Alessandro Cresta, general manager of the palace. | Palace Hotel

Empress Eugénie’s dream

At the source of the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz, there is Empress Eugenie. It was in this city on the Basque coast that the future wife of Napoleon III spent her holidays as a child, surrounded by her father, the Count of Montijo, and her mother, an Irish aristocrat. She notably learned to swim there – a rarity for the time.

Empress Eugenie and Napoleon III are at the origin of the place. | Palace Hotel

From these happy memories was born, in 1855, two years after her marriage to the French Emperor, a villa bearing the name of Eugénie and facing the Grande Plage. All the elite and crowned heads will flock there: the Duchess and the Duke of Windsor, Isabella of Spain, Leopold II of Belgium, the King of Württemberg, or even Edward VII. Biarritz radiates throughout the world and the Basque city becomes the holiday resort of Russian aristocrats exiled in France.

But in 1903, a fire broke out in the attic, reducing the hotel to ashes. It was then rebuilt in the shape of an E – a nice idea, paying homage to the Empress – by a company of casino owners. Its success does not dry up: this time, it is the Hollywood stars who find themselves there, from Franck Sinatra to Barbra Streisand, via Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway.

The Hôtel du Palais was born from the ashes of the Villa Eugénie, victim of a fire in 1903. | Palace Hotel

The Hôtel du Palais is the only place on the Atlantic coast to be crowned “palace de France”. | Palace Hotel

In 2018, the hotel joined the Hyatt group, through its brand The Unbound Collection by Hyatt. The only place on the Atlantic coast to be crowned “Palace de France”, an award obtained in 2011, it has also been decorated with the label “living heritage company” the following year, before joining the Colbert committeean association founded in 1954 by Jean-Paul Guerlain and bringing together around a hundred French luxury companies and institutions.

An elegant place steeped in history

To obtain your key, you must pass through the hall of the palace, where the architects of the COS firm and Isabelle Joly have changed all the large windows – those of the restaurant La Rotonde, offering a 180-degree panoramic view of the ocean, were entitled to the same treatment.

Particularity of the Palace Hotel: he is the only one in France to benefit from a team of craftsmen (cabinet makers, upholsterers, dressmakers, etc.) which is solely dedicated to him. In the shop located opposite the reception, you can buy objects and works of art, ready-to-wear, or even books on the region.

In the corridors of this sublime place is also nestled Napoleon III bar, steeped in history: an intimate and confidential lounge that takes up the codes of the Second Empire with its royal blue walls. With its outdoor terrace open from May to September, it is the ideal place to enjoy champagne and one of the many cocktails concocted by the head bartender.

The Napoleon III bar takes up the codes of the Second Empire. | Palace Hotel

Among the hotel’s six lounges, let’s note the prestigious Imperial lounge and its 330 square meter winter garden. The old ballroom Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie has retained all its elegance, with its walls decorated with paintings by Paul Gervais representing the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece: splendid allegorical on the wind. Parquet and its marquetry are original, like its glass ceiling culminating at seven meters in height.

The steps of the main staircase, which provides access to the bedrooms, are covered with carpet decorated with bees, the emblem of royalty and the French Empire. But also from Maison Guerlain which had created, on the occasion of the marriage of Napoleon III and Eugénie de Montijo, in 1853, the famous Imperial colognewhose bottle is adorned with 69 bees.

The Hôtel du Palais offers six lounges. | Palace Hotel

The palace also offers a haven of peace: the Imperial spa. Spread over 3,000 square meters, it has nine treatment cabins, in partnership with Maison Guerlain and the Hair Institute Leonor Greyl.

The Imperial spa at the Hôtel du Palais, an ideal place to relax. | Anthony Parkinson

It is also possible to relax in the indoor swimming pool with counter-current swimming, in the jacuzzi, in the hammam or the sauna, as well as in the sports hall: the palace is a modern palace.

Two dining areas

On the palate side, the cooking has been entrusted to Aurélien Largeau, a gifted and passionate chef in his thirties who has just won his first star in the Michelin guide. The space of La Rotonde has been divided into two places of restoration: one dedicated to a refined and creative gastronomy and the second to a more traditional and family cooking.

Aurélien Largeau, starred chef in the kitchens of La Rotonde. | Palace Hotel

To eat throughout the day, Le Salon, located between the reception and La Rotonde, offers a savory and sweet menu: Caesar salad, lobster roll or knife-cut beef tartare… You can also taste the delicious pastries, accompanied a selection of rare teas created by chef Aleksandre Oliver, rewarded by the Michelin guide with the “Passion Dessert” prizegreat-grandson of Raymond Oliver who distinguished himself at the Grand Véfour, three stars near the Palais-Royal.

Pastry chef Aleksandre Oliver. | Marine Brusson

In fine weather, in the gardens of the Palace Biarrot, by the swimming pool, you can discover Le Sunset with its breathtaking view of the ocean, an ideal place to enjoy grilled fish or a mixed salad.

The perfect place for a quick lunch, La Terrasse is also a dream spot for watching the sunset.

The Sunset Restaurant, by the pool, is the ideal place for a summer lunch. | Palace Hotel

À la carte at La Rotonde–La Table by Aurélien Largeau

Menus “On the wire of iodine” in eight stops at 175 euros and “Balade en Nouvelle-Aquitaine” in five stops at 110 euros.

At the Hôtel du Palais, the entrance to the restaurant La Rotonde. | Palace Hotel

“On the wire of iodine” menu

  • Seared tomato, Rova “Royal” caviar

The iodized tomato, Rova “Royal” caviar. | Stone Cardboard

  • Grilled lobster with pine needles, beets, coral sauce
  • Empress ttoro, kokotxa, langoustine, smoked mussels, clear chorizo ​​soup
  • Bluefin tuna from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, barnacle vinaigrette, flowery-iodized mayonnaise

Bluefin tuna from Saint-Jean-de-Luz. | Stone Cardboard

  • Chargrilled brill steak, oyster mushrooms, Hollandaise with lovage
  • Le verjuice, iced cloud with verjuice, sea lettuce, grape vinaigrette
  • Rhub’alga, when rhubarb meets the ocean
  • Glasswort herbs, lemon mousse and cucumber pickles

“Walk in New Aquitaine” menu

  • Oysters from the Arcachon basin, crépinettes, smoked biribil emulsion

Oysters from the Arcachon basin. | Stone Cardboard

  • The vegetable mouclade as in Charente-Maritime, carrots, curry, pineau

The muck. | Stone Cardboard

  • Empress ttoro (also on the menu at 175 euros)
  • Landes squab with bread, supreme, thigh, prohibited foods, green vegetables
  • Chocolate and meadowsweet, back from the woods…
  • The dessert of the moment, according to the mood of the pastry chef

À la carte at La Rotonde–Côté Maison

At this second table at La Rotonde, chef Largeau expresses the richness of the Basque terroir and its specialties through simple and convivial dishes. A modern and traditional cuisine at the same time.

On the menu:

  • Tomato salad, burrata cream, basil pesto, pine nuts (29 euros)
  • Mixed salad with tuna, raw vegetables, lamb’s lettuce, soft-boiled egg, rice and sesame sauce (30 euros)
  • Caesar salad, grilled poultry or prawns, romaine, parmesan, anchovies, soft-boiled egg (35 euros)

The entrees:

  • Smoked salmon from Maison Barthouil, sour cream, lemon, toasted bread (36 euros)
  • Semi-cooked duck foie gras, black cherry jam, Norwegian bread with toasted fruit (36 euros)
  • The ham melon, half-melon, Kintoa ham Pierre Oteiza (32 euros)
  • Lean ceviche, Greek yogurt, julienne of tangy vegetables (29 euros)
  • Vitello tonnato, pickled red onions, parmesan shavings, tonnato sauce, capers (29 euros)

Dishes to share:

  • Poultry with herbs, mashed potatoes, green salad, chicken sauce (80 euros for two people)
  • Whole grilled sea bream, white butter sauce (110 euros for two people)

The dishes:

  • Filet of bass, Grenoble garnish, balsamic tomatoes (42 euros)
  • Prawns with parsley, quinoa tabbouleh with fresh herbs (52 euros)
  • Milanese veal cutlet, linguine, lemon, herb butter (42 euros)
  • Rack of Basque pork, collection of carrots, satay, spicy jus (39 euros)
  • Beef tartare, condiments, egg yolks, fries and salad (39 euros)
  • Shellfish risotto, confit beef, tomato sauce, parmesan (29 euros)

Chef Aleksandre Oliver’s pastries:

  • “Eugénie” cabbage, chocolate, roasted hazelnuts (20 euros)

At the restaurant La Rotonde – Côté Maison, the Eugénie cabbage from chef Aleksander Oliver. | Stone Cardboard

  • Lemon meringue pie with olive oil (20 euros)
  • Strawberry boudoir, “melted ice cream” sauce (20 euros)
  • Vacherin chipiottes, raspberry, basil and piquillos (20 euros)
  • Cinnamon cabbage, caramelized almonds, coconut (20 euros)
  • The plate of fruits cut according to the season (24 euros)

The Empress Sissi suite at the Hôtel du Palais. | Maite Photo

The Hotel du Palais: 1, avenue de l’Impératrice Eugénie, 64200 Biarritz. Tel.: 05 59 41 12 34. 86 rooms and 56 suites from 28 to 100 square meters, from 339 euros depending on the season.

La Table d’Aurélien Largeau: only for dinner. Side House: no closing, seasonal menus. The Salon: always open. The Napoleon III Bar: open 7 days a week from 4 p.m. The Terrace: no closure. Le Sunset: open 7 days a week from July to September.

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