There are plenty of boutique hotels in Nice but Hotel Windsor has the edge as soon as we walk in. Straight past reception, the townhouse side doors open out onto a stunning garden with huge exotic plants, an outdoor swimming pool and a large cage containing a pair of colourful parrots. Yes, Windsor will do just nicely.
After a simple check in with the friendly staff, we’re shown up to our triple room, which has been designed by the Swiss artist Felice Varini. Each room in the Windsor has been decorated by a different artist – including Jean Le Gac, Peter Fend and Charlemagne Palestine – and Varini’s made bold work of our garden-view room with a small terrace.
A thick red line runs across the white walls, zig-zagging back and forth. Varini specialises in architectural spaces and there’s a whole A4 sheet in the room explaining this concept. It’s definitely edgy and sets off the lush garden view nicely. We’re amused to see that the bathroom doesn’t have a door and the shower is in full view of the bedroom. (The toilet, I’m glad to say, is in a separate room).
Our room is not the only quirky, creative aspect in Hotel Windsor. The interior of the lift is decorated with a colourful rocket mural: countdown and lift-off sound effects kick in when you press go! The stairs, meanwhile, are decorated with framed artwork from the classic Tintin books. Such popular culture references mix effortlessly with ornate antiquey furniture pieces in the lobby, which leads to a small modern bar area.
Naturally, we choose to have pre- and post-dinner drinks in the garden (the hotel does have a restaurant, but it’s shut on Sundays, when we’re visiting). With just a few other small groups having murmured conversations, this bar really is a verdant oasis in the city of Nice. It’s also a terrific spot for breakfast the next morning, where a continental buffet is laid out along with cooked meats, eggs and a selection of teas.
The parrots are more awake at this stage, too, and their squawking adds an atmospheric touch (you’ll be lucky to get them to speak though – we did try). For sightseeing, the location of Hotel Windsor is excellent. The elegant townhouse is walkable from the train station and if you’re keen on art (which you should be if you stay here), it’s a short hop on the bus to the spectacular Chagall museum, one of Nice’s must-sees.
The seafront is a quick walk as are the winding streets of the old town along with their characterful bars and restaurants. We conclude that if you’re looking for an affordable, central boutique hotel with excellent service, Hotel Windsor is about as nice as Nice gets. And that’s very nice indeed.
11 Rue Dalpozzo, Nice, France
Tel: 04 9388 5935.
Price: From €98 per room. Breakfast €12 per person. Half board and sauna available for extra cost.