Want me to let you into a Nice property secret? The Riviera’s hotel industry is more closed shop than socialist paradise. There are three damn good reasons why buying an apartment in Nice is a purchase of the head, as well as of the heart.
Firstly, no major hotels have opened on the French Riviera since the Palais de la Mediterranée in 2003. Some grand hotels, like Nice’s Maeterlinck or Beaulieu’s Hotel Métropole, have either been turned into apartments or closed for good.
Secondly, red tape and vested interests mean that only a handful of hotels are planned for the coming decade. Sure, Nice airport passenger numbers have doubled over the last 15 years. And conferences fill up rooms year-round. But local guilds seem content to limit the supply of accommodation to ensure room occupancy remains super high.
And finally, points one and two have had a knock on effect on room rates. Riviera hotel prices have been rising at an estimated rate of 8% per year since I arrived in 2002. These figures will shock you.
Here’s three quick examples charting price rises of superior double rooms per night in high summer from 2009 to 2014: Hotel Byblos in St Tropez was €850, now €1,180; Hotel Welcome in Villefranche was €218, now €345; Hotel Le Havre Bleu in Beaulieu was €78, now €95.
And I thought there was a recession on!
So what does this mean for owners of Riviera real estate? Mainly that you’ll be doing both yourself and visitors to Nice a favour by letting your property out. The returns are superb. In a city where a standard four-star hotel charges €200 per double room in high season, it stands to reason that a luxurious two bedroom apartment can at least match that figure.