As you enter, the first thing that strikes you is the light: a gazillion lumens of it, from that expansive Mediterranean sky, flooding through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Then, pupils adjusted, your gaze drifts toward the property’s pièce de resistance: the view. Its focal point, the medieval village of Èze, is flanked by Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and Villefranche-Sur-Mer, Antibes and—on a clear day—Cannes, 25 or so miles beyond. Monaco, as the crow flies, is about five miles to the east; the border with Italy is roughly another 15 miles.
As hotel chains have lately moved to introduce private villas to their repertoire (see also Oetker Collection’s burgeoning portfolio), Mandarin Oriental’s La Maison vue de Saint Jean is a particularly delectable offering. The 10-bedroom villa has been designed in a way that defers to the magnificence of its vistas, which can be enjoyed from all three floors: throughout the 2,100-square-foot reception, 10 bedrooms, the infinity pool and various multi-level outdoor areas.
“It was important to allow the interior, while being totally luxurious, to not detract attention away from what is arguably the most spectacular view on the French Riviera,” said Mandarin Oriental’s Luca Finardi. Here, the design ethos is characterized by wooden and marble floors that gently enhance, without reflecting, that abundant light, and walls that sparingly offer bursts of color in the form of abstract artworks.
“The architect, Jean-Claude Borgogno, was keen to preserve the contours of the land and allow the design of the property to blend in with the natural landscape, so that from Èze, looking back up towards the villa, La Maison would almost disappear into the scenery,” Finardi said. Borgogno achieved this effect by clever use of color and texture, and by designing the residence around existing pine trees and adding more than 1,000 plants sourced from Italy and France to the three-acre garden. “The trees themselves became design features of the house, most notably those surrounding the infinity pool.”
The outdoor spaces, meanwhile, are sprinkled liberally with daybeds (with enough light linens and mosquito repellent, you could easily sleep another 20 al fresco). There’s also the promise of utter seclusion (no one off the premises can see any guests anywhere on it); a concierge who will arrange transportation, fitness trainers, yoga classes and bespoke spa treatments; a child-friendly TV snug off the main lounge; a small gym annexed to the master bedroom; barbecues; and a smattering of fireplaces (occasionally—very occasionally—the Riviera gets a sprinkling of snow).
Also on hand are a rotation of private chefs, all rigorously tested to Mandarin Oriental’s culinary standard guidelines, at your service in the villa at mealtimes. Those who eschew the cheesier nuances of hotel-based vacationing will also be impressed by the lack of obtrusive branding, which here is limited to the occasional Mandarin insignia embossed onto towels and gowns.
As for activities in the surrounding area, the village of Èze—an ear-popping 1,300 feet above sea level—is filled with restaurants that also offer exceptional views of the Côte d’Azur. Chateau Eza, at the crest of the hilltop on which the town perches—which offers à la carte French and Mediterranean cuisine—gets our vote. And if a calorie-canceling post-prandial activity appeals, consider taking on the Friedrich Nietzsche Trail (the German philosopher often collected his thoughts whilst climbing it when he lived on the Riviera in the late 19th century). The uphill journey back to Èze will bring out your inner Übermensch, to borrow from Nietzsche’s self-discovery concept (albeit one whose wearied muscles make a beeline for the villa’s outdoor hot tub immediately on return).
Mandarin Oriental is too discreet to mention clientele, of course. One would expect the competition to book La Maison vue de Saint Jean to be pretty fierce, though, when the European soccer seasons come to a close, as well as when the Cannes Film Festival, and the Monaco Grand Prix shortly after it, make this part of the world a center of gravity for A-listers.
La Maison vue de Saint Jean, Èze-Mer—a Mandarin Oriental Exclusive Home—costs $5,149 to $9,883 per night, with a 14-night minimum stay.