Hotel of the Week: A 1907 Seaside Villa in France Reopens After a Stunning Refresh
The Belle Epoque hotel Regina Experimental Biarritz debuts a rejuvenated interior by Dorothée Meilichzon
Under the new ownership of the trendy Paris-based Experimental Group, which has hotels in London, Paris, Ibiza, Venice, Verbier, and Minorca, the elegant 72 room Belle Epoque hotel Le Regina in Biarritz has had some major work done by the talented interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon of the Chzon agency. While flattering its good architectural bones, including its beautiful four-story atrium courtyard, the visual wit of the Paris-based designer’s decor has given the hotel a younger and more stylish new identity.
Built in 1907 on a cliff above the surf-groomed Miramar Beach, a discrete local favorite hidden below the craggy point at the northern edge of town that’s defined by its famous lighthouse, the Hotel Regina was one of the chicest places in France during what the French call “Les Annees Folle” (Roaring Twenties). Between the wars, Biarritz was a favored watering hole of the European aristocracy and the wives of American industrial tycoons on grand tours of Europe, and the Hotel Regina was well-known as the venue for sumptuous parties and dances.
Meilichzon, who won Best Designer of the Year award at Maison&Objet in 2023, solved the challenge of making the central hall of the hotel—where the bar, lobby-lounge, and breakfast room are located—warmer and more intimate with dramatic straw-covered pillars that rescale the space. Canapés and armchairs are covered in striped fabrics that reference the French Basque Country’s famous textiles, like those made by Jean Vier, in a color scheme inspired by the region’s landscapes: sea-glass, sapphire, sand, and gray from its coast, and ochre, oxblood, fir green, and teal blue from its hilly interior.
Upstairs, the best rooms come with sea-views, bien sur, but all of them are spacious and have large well-lit baths with Swedish L:A Bruket products. Curvy Art Deco-inspired furniture and nautical-themed carpeting nods at the Regina’s glamorous past and seaside location, while the Basque berets and pelota rackets hang on the walls, creating a sense of place. Lamps are wrapped in Japanese rope or straw, as are mirrors.
Cocktails are the Experimental Group’s forte, and the bar at the Regina has some great locavore tipples, including the Udare Ona, which is made with pear eau-de-vie by renown local producer Brana, fino sherry, verjus, and hibiscus syrup, or, for tee-totalers, L’Imperatrice (The Empress), a sassy sip of citrus and thyme syrup with verjus and Mediterranean tonic water. Either makes a perfect prelude to dinner at Frenchie Biarritz, the Regina’s restaurant by chef Gregory Marchand, founder of Frenchie, one of the best modern bistros in Paris.
The Regina also includes a three-cabin spa that uses products from Austrian brand Suzanne Kaufmann or locally made Alaena as well as a large heated outdoor pool. Open all year, the Regina is a perfect base from which to discover the Basque Country and an ideal choice for a relaxing seaside getaway in one of France’s chicest beach town.
See more images below.