Why the Maybourne Riviera hotel is set to become the jewel of the Côte D’Azur

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Organza top, £1,600, and wool/silk trousers, £2,500, both Dior. On left wrist: 24ct-gold-plated bracelet, £225, and 24ct-gold-plated bangle, £300, Goossens

I had come to the Maybourne Riviera, the latest venture of the Maybourne group that also owns Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley, out of season. No crowds, no brutal sun, no people so glossily attired they make your hems fray and unravel just by looking at you. It was my favourite temperature – 23 degrees. Now that long-distance travel feels risky and low on ethics, the Riviera out of season has much to recommend it.

It’s strange to think that when F Scott Fitzgerald popularised the region as a summer destination in the 1920s, summer itself was considered out of season, tourists traditionally heading North in April to avoid the heat. For the generation of writers before Fitzgerald, such as Edith Wharton and Henry James, a summer trip to the Riviera would have had zero appeal. In 1919, in her 50s, Wharton acquired a winter home in the region, writing against a propped-up board in bed, every morning, guests or no guests. James – no beach fan, as you’d guess – wrote to his brother in April 1899 of the area’s ‘light, the air, the noble, graceful lines &c, all of the first order’. Queen Victoria wintered in the Riviera many times after her first visit in March 1882. ‘Oh, if only I were at Nice, I should recover,’ she remarked, as she lay dying in 1901…

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