A favourite with royals in the 19th century, this seaside resort in the Basque Country remains extremely desirable, as well as being a popular surf spot in the 21st century. The Grande Plage is the centre of the beach action, with golden sands and lifeguards watching over bathers in the summer months. Biarritz has one of the largest aquariums in Europe, spanning over 7,000 metres – including an 11-metre-long Caribbean lagoon – and is well worth a visit. Its boulevards make meandering a pleasure and do check out the lighthouse, as well as the dramatic setting of the Rocher de la Vierge statue (Virgin Mary of the Rock) at the end of a footbridge.
Le Régina Biarritz Hôtel & Spa – MGallery
On Biarritz’s headland, sandwiched between a golf course and the sea, sits Le Régina. Opened in 1907, the architecture has an early Art Deco leaning, with classic modern interiors. A glamorous riviera terrace has a seasonal, heated pool, loungers and a chic restaurant, serving fine French cuisine with plenty of Basque specialities. Inside there’s a spa with steam and treatment rooms, 65 bedrooms and a lobby bar – hosting frequent live music – that’s just made for quaffing champagne. Valet parking and a shuttle to the aforementioned golf club (one of the nation’s oldest) are free and the MGallery property frequently features art exhibitions.
Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa Sea & Spa
Swim in a saltwater pool overlooking the sea that’s heated 12 months of the year, when you stay at this Sofitel hotel. The spa has a second pool with an endless current, a solarium, sauna, jacuzzi and treatments using Organic Research and Thalassa sea and skin products. Bistronomy-style cuisine is served at Le Restaurant, including the Equilibre menu specialising in well-balanced dishes, as well as salt-free, gluten-free and children’s menus. Guests can also dine in a poolside eatery and drink in the bar. 126 bedrooms at Le Miramar have a calming ambience, decorated with botanical motifs.
Hôtel Du Palais Biarritz – In the Unbound Collection by Hyatt
Once an actual palace, this impressive residence facing onto Grande Plage, was erected on the orders of Napoleon III. It is every bit as palatial by nature as by name, with high ceilings, antique artworks, ornate detailing, chandeliers and regal furnishings. But floral prints, mod cons like blackout shutters and high-quality textiles ensure the 153 bedrooms also feel cosy. Amenities at this historic landmark residence include the Guerlain spa, indoor and outdoor pools, a playground, an outdoor eatery and the one Michelin-starred silver service restaurant Villa Eugénie (named after the wife for whom Napolean had this property built).
It’s just five minutes from the airport and the staff at Beaumanoir will send a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, escorting you to your suite in this neo-baroque mansion surrounded by lime trees. You’ll be tempted, almost immediately, to refresh your thirst post-journey at the boutique hotel’s Dom Pérignon bar. You can also order a bite to eat in the venue, whose menu features Basque Country favourites. The building is nearly a century and a half old, and housing just four bedrooms, two suites and two apartments, a stay here feels personal and intimate. Two outdoor seating areas and a pool with contemporary loungers provide ample opportunity to catch some rays.