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The Negresco central atrium, with baccarat chandelier. Image by Cayambe courtesy of Wikimedia Commos

The Negresco central atrium with Baccarat chandelier. Image by Cayambe courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It’s a building where studios sell for €8,000 per square metre. A rococo wedding cake that dominates the Promenade des Anglais. A seafront castle where a rogue’s gallery of world leaders – Nikita Khrushchev, the Shah of Iran – have bedded down under mink throws.

Welcome to the Negresco. This palace-hotel – and little known private residence – has a back story more convoluted than passport control at Gatwick.

The legend began in 1900. Man-about-town Henri Negresco was a waiter-to-the-stars in Monaco. Serving the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts in Casino Square gave young Negresco a novel idea: the uber-rich will pay for uber-luxury accommodation – all you have to do is build it.

Henri Negresco hired architect Édouard-Jean Niermans, the brains behind Paris’s Moulin Rouge, to design his dream. The Hôtel Negresco looks one half Moorish palace, one half Russian Cathedral, with a pink’n’cream colour scheme seemingly selected by Lady Gaga. It was built in just 18 months. Who said French builders are slow?

The launch in 1913 was an atypical riches to rags story. World War One intervened the following year. The Negresco was turned into a field hospital, albeit one with a pneumatic tube delivery system so notes could be express posted to each room. By 1918 much of the hotel’s potential clientele were either bankrupt or dead. This included Russian Tsar Nicholas II, who was shot by firing square before he could take delivery of the 16,309-crystal Baccarat chandelier that now hangs in the Negresco’s Royal Lounge.

In 1957 Madame Jeanne Augier purchased the structure for a song and created the hotel we know today. Contemporary art graced the walls. The Beatles sang from the seafront suite. Augier’s pals Cocteau, Picasso and Dali called in for tea.

Standard double rooms now fetch €430 a night in summer. Breakfast is another €30. For each guest. But there is another way to buy into class.

Decades ago a private residence was hived off the hotel. It’s accessed by a luxuriously decadent staircase on rue du Commandant Berretta, just around the corner from the outrageously costumed doormen on the Negresco’s main entrance.

Elegance doesn’t come cheap. Nor does location. So much so that Pebbles’ sister agency, Pebbles Rentals, manage a property inside that very building. It books for £185 per night (€220) all summer.

Properties for sale in the building come up on a yearly basis. Recent gems that Pebbles have had access to include a 22m studio for €185,000, plus a fashionably fusty two bedroom apartment that sold for over €6,000 per square metre.

Don’t choke on your cocktail in the Negresco’s wood-panelled bar (granted, they do cost €25 a pop). Log your interest with us and you’ll be the first to know next time one comes on the market.

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