Just for the weekend: Hôtel du Palais, Biarritz

A trip to Biarritz reignited Amerley Ollennu’s faith in romance


Just for the weekend: Hôtel du Palais, Biarritz

Visiting the Hôtel du Palais was like stepping back in time.

As I walked through the lobby of Hôtel du Palais, my posture suddenly improved as I utilised the walking-around-with-a-book-on-your-head position I’d practised years ago at school. After all, it was the former home of Empress Eugénie, the captivating wife of Napoléon III.

Legend has it Spanish Eugénie wanted to live in her homeland after marriage, but how could the Emperor of France run one country from another? His solution was this scarlet and cream-coloured seaside ‘villa’ in the beautiful resort town of Biarritz. It offered a close proximity to the Spanish border, a mild climate and a memorable coastline of curved inlets punctuated by rocky outcrops.

That’s the kind of grand gesture modern men just don’t make now, I thought (ignoring the sheer cost of said gesture).

I’d headed to Biarritz to bear witness to another love story, the marriage of a dear friend. Surrounded by happy couples and with the romantic tale of how the hotel came into existence, I couldn’t help but slowly thaw when it came to my state of pessimism on the topic of love.

I’d long held the opinion that finding the one wasn’t going to happen to me, so my focus had been directed towards fulfilment in other areas, such as my career. Interestingly, the hallways of Hôtel du Palais are lined with images of Hollywood starlets, royalty, and none other than one of my fashion heroes – Coco Chanel – all previous visitors to the hotel.

To know that these strong, successful women had graced the very halls I walked down, had dined in the sumptuous La Rotonde restaurant and perhaps even relaxed in the spa where I enjoyed a top-to-toe Guerlain massage, was a source of inspiration.

This trip made me realise I was operating from a place of fear. I was so focused on being successful at work because I felt unsuccessful in my personal life that I hadn’t been truly living.

Having the opportunity to relax in such surroundings so close to the sea, be inspired by strong women past and present, single and involved, made me see that to operate from a place of love would leave me much happier.

Hotel du Palais offers its Imperial package from €555 (approx £436) per night based on two sharing a double room. Price includes breakfast, one lunch or dinner (excluding drinks), access to the Imperial Spa and taxes. To book visit hotel-du-palais.com