Thursday, May 24, 2012

HI Beach & HI Hotel - Nice

On yet another glorious, sunny day in the South of France, I met a friend for lunch at HI Beach along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, which is part of HI Hotel, a very short walk away.

HI Beach

It was another one of those beautiful days in the French Riviera where life doesn’t seem to come with a rush attached to it.



As if the beach and breeze from the stunning blue sea wasn’t enough, the restaurant setting at HI Beach is wonderfully inviting and relaxed.



My friend and I were seated in a cozy little cabana area and next to us were people in lounge chairs tanning and going for the occasional swim in the sea.  If you wanted, you could even go for a professional massage in one of the huts at the end of HI Beach or do some yoga.  


By the way, this is also one of the other gay-friendly beaches in Nice so expect to see some eye candy.




The service at HI Beach was prompt and the choice of drinks available were conceived by the restaurant in such a way that they could enhance whatever mood you were in or going for, you could have a concoction made to naturally zap you with some extra energy or a special blend to keep you calm and confident throughout the rest of your day.

The food was also a total match.  I had a seafood salad (thinking waistline), it was scrumptious and filling, it seemed simple yet intricate, and was uniquely presented on the plate.  I thoroughly enjoyed the lunch; it was all very fresh and organic.
 

One of the many other things I appreciated about HI Beach is that there is never a feeling that you needed to hurry and place your order, eat, drink and then get out, and this makes for a nice way to spend some time with a friend.  HI Beach is also very adaptable for a variety of events; space can be made for large groups for lunch or cleared for a dance area at night.

You really must experience HI Beach.






While we were enjoying lunch, my friend was surprised to find out I had never been inside the HI Hotel before.  I remember when the hotel first came on the scene in Nice, and heard about the fun parties held inside the hotel and on the rooftop, but for some reason I had never been.

Fortunately my friend was quickly able to get us a tour, so of course I went for it, having heard about the hotel’s daring design features forever, I wasn’t going to pass this up.

HI Hotel



After leaving HI Beach, we walked a couple of blocks to HI Hotel located at: 3 avenue des Fleurs.  I like this part of the city; it’s a real neighborhood without the suburban feel.  It’s quiet, close to everything you would need and not overrun with tourists, and of course, by the beach.  There’s even a charming park a couple of buildings away from the hotel, which I adore.



As we walked into the hotel the staff greeted us with genuine smiles, they were very welcoming and attentive.  I loved the whole idea behind this concept style hotel right away, the natural flow of the lobby, use of color and the large glass windows behind the reception that looked on to an outdoor terrace area that seemed very serene.



In conversation with the staff I was told that HI Hotel is a gay-friendly, seven story, 4-star hotel, with the eighth floor being the rooftop terrace area that has an outdoor pool, and that each floor of HI Hotel has different types of rooms of which to choose from to suit your needs, design tastes, and mood.  I was curious to see more.



One thing I noticed right away, and my friend remarked on it too, was the engaging scent as we toured the hotel.  The aroma wasn’t overwhelming, just subtle, awakening, real and almost sensual.  Turns out it is part of their eco-friendly products line infused throughout the air system but only in the communal areas so don’t worry about it being overpowering in your hotel room.

Eco-friendly is not just a buzzword that is thrown around here.  HI Hotel is serious about it, and it is integrated throughout the hotel in such items as bathing products, cleaning products, bicycles available for guests to use, and even in the wooden utensils in the restaurant area, to name just a few.

HI Hotel also has a spa called HI Body, where every aspect of you is taken care of with a variety of personal packages to choose from.
 


As we made our way into the heart of the hotel, near the outdoor terrace, we were shown the very spacious Happy Bar that has many uses, you can eat from the self-service canteen in here, have a small meeting in the seating areas, and in the evenings the whole mood is enhanced by various types of events that take place with the DJ’s on the turntables in the upper loft.

This is truly the gathering place of HI Hotel.  And if you needed more space to book a meeting, the hotel has a conference room available.





Each floor in the hotel was certainly an experience to tour, being told ahead of time that HI Hotel has nine different concept rooms to choose from for the 38 rooms they have was intriguing to me.

As we were shown the types of rooms available, I’m sure I was repeating myself to the others by saying, ”I like this one.  Wait, I like this one!”  As I honestly could not make up my mind on which room I liked best, I really did like them all, they each offered everything I would want or need, and in visualizing a stay, they suited my every mood with their cool color choices and layouts.



The rooms are all more than decent-sized with large beds and unique bathroom features, you can see that use of space is very important in the design concepts here.  The rooms are clutter-free and have every convenience you could want, free Wi-Fi, safe, air conditioning, flat screen TV, etc.



If I was to book a room at HI Hotel and wanted something a little extra special, I would recommend the White & White room as it feels like your own world in which to draw inspiration from, this type of room is completely white, with your own spiral staircase that leads to your own private rooftop terrace and Jacuzzi.


Nearing the end of the tour, we made our way to the roof and what has to be one of the most absolutely breathtaking views in Nice amongst all the historic architecture, the sea and hillsides!


A total 360 view with the pool smack dab in the middle of the rooftop surrounded by an incredible area to lounge, suntan or lunch if you choose. This is truly a feast for the eyes and what a way to end the tour.




With HI Hotel and HI Beach, this is obviously a popular destination hotel where your every need is catered too, not only on the outside but the inside too.  Book early!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wanna be on TV?

I was recently contacted by a representative of Shiver / ITV Productions London who are looking for people to take part in a show.
They are currently casting for the fifth series of the hugely popular ITV1 daytime show, ‘May the Best House Win’, this time they will be filming the show in France!
The series features interesting homes that have been lovingly created by their owners, real passion projects and properties that are distinctive and express their owners personality, whether it’s people who live in interesting conversions, fascinating period properties, or who have filled their home with fascinating objects or artifacts, or decorated in a particular theme.
Anything goes, so long as the homeowners really love their home.
In each episode, the show will feature four very different houses in a particular area.  The show will ask the homeowners to visit each of the other houses and award them marks out of ten.  The winning homeowner wins 1000 euros!  It’s a fun show designed to bring together people with different tastes and different properties to discuss and debate their own ideas of what makes a home.

The production company will be going to the South of France to film in a few weeks’ time.  So this is your chance to show off your treasured home in one of the most beautiful regions in France!
If you are interested, you may contact them through the details listed in the promo picture below:
Good luck to everyone that enters!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sauna du Château


Bathhouses have been around since ancient times; the Romans were famous for them.  So it’s amusing to me how many people I come across that claim they have never been to a bathhouse, yet when they take me aside, I end up finding out they have been and love it or are very intrigued and want to know more about them.

Usually these establishments (if properly managed) are a much safer alternative than perhaps bringing someone home that you just met at a bar or nightclub.
 

The people that operate Sauna du Château in Nice are, to me, in the group that considers every aspect of how their business should operate.  Sauna du Château is a safe, fun and very clean establishment.


Situated at the edge of Vieux Nice, on the side closest to the sea is Sauna du Château at: 17 rue des Ponchettes

 
This sauna is very easy to find, it’s just outside the touristy areas of Vieux Nice on a quiet, more residential street where it would be very easy to go unnoticed if discretion is a concern for you.

Noting the outside of the building, one would be very surprised by how big the space is inside.  I assumed because of the way the entrance looked from the street that it might be small and cramped inside.  That wasn’t the case at all.


But before I go any further, I should let you know that Sauna du Château is considered to be more of a mixed couple sauna.  If you happen to be a gay, you are still more than welcome.  Just don’t be surprised if you also see a woman in a towel.



Entering Sauna du Château, I could tell the place was buzzing, the staff was very busy making sure everything was ok and I noticed the customers came in every shape and size.

I felt very comfortable right away and any questions I had, the staff was there to help.  It felt like a great place to relax and get away from the outside world for a little while.

Sauna du Chateau



As it turns out, Sauna du Château is actually a big space! I was surprised how far back it went and is laid out over three different levels covering about 5400 square feet!
Who knew?!

The sauna itself is well lit, with very flattering, soothing lightly in most areas, everything seemed in place and the cleanliness was top notch.

There are small rooms in which to meet up, but also general relaxing areas.  Along with a generous steam room, infrared sauna, dry sauna, large Jacuzzi and even a small pool area, all within an uniquely designed space.

Something else that is a bonus, professional massages are available for a low additional price, just make arrangements with the staff at the front area of the club.

Even though Sauna du Château leans more towards being a straight couple type of bathhouse, if you are comfortable enough, fun can still be had here, to what degree you take that is of course up to you.

Sauna du Château is open seven days a week from 1pm to 9pm, on Sundays until midnight.

Take the plunge and play safe!