In demand by celebrities from De Niro to Madonna, this extravagantly expensive hotel looking out on 22 acres of immaculate gardens bordered by rocky shoreline has long catered to the world's fantasy of a subtropical idyll on the French Riviera and yet remains the place to stay, as it was voted second best hotel in the world by Traveler's World 2015. First opened in 1870, the Villa Soleil joined forces with the neighboring Eden Roc tearoom in 1914 and expanded its luxuries to include a swimming pool blasted into seaside bedrock. After the Great War, two stylish American intellectuals—Sara and Gerald Murphy—rented the entire complex and invited all their friends, a stellar lot ranging from the Windsors to Rudolf Valentino and Marlene Dietrich. Their most frequent guests were Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who used it as the model for Hôtel des Etrangers in his Tender Is the Night. Large, sun-drenched rooms are thickly carpeted and furnished with antiques in the main
Second Empire mansion; the waterside Pavillon Eden Roc wing is more modern and enjoys sheer-horizon views. Continental breakfast is included in the price (and so is access to the beach). Everyone dresses stylishly for dinner in the newly renovated Eden-Roc restaurant; the Champagne Lounge, the crème de la Cap crème, was uncorked in 2013; and La Rotonde piano bar, the most historic corner of the pavilion with vistas as gentle as the evening musical accompaniments, was redone in 2015.