Set on the beach, this majestic, colonnaded redbrick hotel with an immense driveway, lawns, and a grand semicircular dining room, still exudes an opulent, aristocratic air, no doubt imparted by Empress Eugénie who built it in 1855 as her Biarritz palace. Napoleonic frippery is everywhere in the public areas, but don't go looking for it in the more standard guest rooms, none of which have sea views. Still, the lobby alone may be worth the price of admission. The three
restaurants—Hippocampe (where lunch is served beside the curved pool above the Atlantic), the regal dinner spot Villa Eugénie, and La Rotonde (with its spectacular soaring columns, gilt trim, and sea views)—are all creatively directed by star chef Jean-Marie Gautier. Don't miss out on his gazpacho de homard au piment d'Espelette (lobster gazpacho with Espelette red pepper).