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March 30, 2010

Hotel of the Moment

L'Orangerie at the Royal Riviera

Designer and hotelier Grace Leo-Andrieu has finally opened L'Orangerie, a handsome 16-room villa tucked into the Renaissance garden of her Royal Riviera hotel in St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. With its ochre exterior and terra-cotta roof, the two-story L'Orangerie is a like a beam of Mediterranean sunshine in the center of the hotel's Belle Epoque grandeur. And L'Orangerie hasn't sacrificed anything for the sake of simplicity: It shares staff and concierge with the Royal Riviera, so as with any Leo-Andrieu hotel, service runs exceptionally smoothly.

WHAT'S GREAT The setting. To arrive at L'Orangerie, guests pass through lush gardens created by sought-after landscape artist Jean Mus. An arched pergola laden with bougainvillea, trumpet vine, and jasmine leads to the villa's glass-encased lobby, which glows with a green-and-amber skylight, antique iron chandelier, and square glass lanterns. . . . AND WHAT'S NOT The view. Though second-floor rooms have balconies, L'Orangerie offers only a glimpse of ocean through cypress trees.

ONLY AT L'ORANGERIE The villa boasts one amenity virtually unknown on the Côte d'Azur: fireplaces. Though St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat has 360 days of sun per year, Leo-Andrieu placed mocha-colored stone fireplaces in the suites—a welcome luxury, she reasons, for cool off-season evenings.

MIX MASTERY Rooms are done in energetic colors such as deep blues and orange—a bold backdrop for the eclectic furnishings: king-size beds with cotton-and-seagrass headboards, iron lamps shaped like branches, and elegant ceramics produced in nearby Madoura's celebrated workshops.

POSH PARTICULARS L'Orangerie's theme may be country chic, but there is nothing rustic about the amenities, including crisp Egyptian-cotton sheets, aromatherapy oils (from Contemporel, Leo-Andrieu's own line of bath products), and CD/DVD players that are discreetly concealed in larchwood cabinets.

ROOM TO GET Suite 18 has high ceilings and a sprawling marble bathroom with a walk-in shower, separate bathtub, and delicate Murano light fixtures. Also lovely is Chambre Deluxe number 10, with a private terrace hidden by white jasmine and laurel, as well as its own stone path to the pool. Rooms, $520-$2,580. At 3 Avenue Jean Monnet; 33-4-93-76-31-00; www.royal-riviera.com.

Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.

Member of Fine Hotels, Resorts & Spas.