The first of the all-mighty Barrière hotels to open in Deauville back in 1912, the Normandy still impresses almost a century on. It is, and always has been, along with its sister hotels, the finest establishment in the town and to be honest no other hotel we saw here puts this assertion into question. Boasting high quality traditional décor, well appointed rooms, stunning public spaces, fine facilities and a sea front location, if you have the money, there is no better way to spend it in Deauville. Whether you're in town on business or leisure, as a couple, family or group of friends, the Normandy will meet, and exceed, your needs and expectations.
The Normandy Barrière is situated on rue Jean Mermoz, close to the seafront. It is in the heart of the town and is surrounded by many shops, restaurants and bars while the Barrière casino is just next door. The train station, Trouville-Deauville, is a 10-minute walk away while the airport of Deauville-St. Gatien is 15 minutes away by road.
Part of the world-famous Lucien Barrière group, the Normandy was arguably the hotel that made Deauville. Built in 1912 and designed by French architect Théo Petit, it was the first luxury hotel/villa in the town and marked the start of the town's rise and rise. The Normandy is the only one of the three Barrière hotels to stay open all year round and is the most family-orientated of the group's Deauville collection. Even when there is work going on, there is never any scaffolding in the summer and the exterior is covered in a trompe l'oeil canvas. Although the company has its roots in Normandy, it is possibly best known for owning the Georges V hotel on Paris's Champs Elysées, which is considered by many to be one of the finest hotels in the world. Guests at the Normandy are entitled to a reduction on the green fees at the golf course at Golf Barrière.
The hotel has two entrances, however in order to appreciate fully the building's typical Anglo-Norman architecture, it's advised to enter through the main entrance. The courtyard is marked by the carefully tended tress at its centre, the series of balconies around the edge, the cockerel about the front door and the clock still higher above. The grand lobby is a welcoming space with a central cavity surrounded by top-draped pillars featuring dramatic floral displays, chandeliers and beautiful wood panelling. Some may find the upholstery (carpets, armchairs etc) a little too much as the patters are fairly heavy, but this is, after all, what makes the Normandy the Normandy. The one detail we didn't appreciate is the rather commercial display cabinets offering expensive designer gear and jewellery - there is enough of this outside in the shopping streets.
One of the biggest attractions of this hotel (and one that is shared with the other Barrière properties) is the famous Casino Barrière de Deauville. Situated just next door, this huge complex comprises every type of gaming table, slot machines, poker rooms as well as a selection of restaurants, bars and a nightclub. Every month there is a special show in addition to off-events such as bridge tournaments and jazz concerts.
Back inside the hotel you'll find several other facilities unique to the hotel. The cosy reading room, with its stained glass windows, is open for guests to relax with a drink during the weekend and holidays while the kids also have their own dedicated space, the Club Diwi & Co. Here the little ones (ages 4-12) can spend the whole day getting creative with art, writing, costume design, gardening, cooking and lots more (open during Parisian school holidays and the weekend). For those under the age of four there is a dedicated animator who will occupy the kids during the same period as the Club Diwi & Co and who can also babysit upon request. All of these services come at an extra charge. Kids may also be interested in the weekend horse-drawn carriage tours of Deauville, although these are by no means limited to the youngest clients.
Another prized asset of the hotel is its indoor swimming pool whose glass roof retracts when the weather allows. Surrounding the pool on the well maintained decking are loungers, tables and chairs and three massage rooms. The hotel also offers a well-equipped fitness room, complete with towels and water, as well as a hammam, sauna, Jacques Dessange salon (at the Royal Barrière a few minutes away) and tennis courts (just opposite the property).
The vast public spaces are all in impeccable condition and getting to your room is simple (if not a little lengthly sometimes). There are several lifts servicing all floors and you'll find on some of the landings large couches, carvings and even a baby grand piano! The members of staff we came across were all extremely courteous and of course bilingual. There is wifi throughout the hotel which is charged after the first half an hour of use.
There are three types of guestroom available at the Normandy as well as three types of suite. The décor in most is quite consistent, with colour palettes and surface area being the main differences. The rooms are orientated towards various views including the sea, the town and the internal courtyard. Although you can't see the town from this latter, the space is actually quite charming with its finials and typical architecture. A few of the rooms have recently been redecorated by the celebrated French designer Jacques Garcia, well worth taking if available (and if you can stretch that far financially).
The standard room is relatively spacious at 24m² and can have any of the views discussed above. There are several colour schemes on offer, each one being present in the furniture upholstery, bed plaid and toile de Jouy lining the walls. The room has a queen bed dressed in crisp linens and has either side of it small bedside tables with a telephone and reading lamps. You'll also find an armchair, small desk, cupboard space and minibar with some snacks. Amenities include a flatscreen television, radio, safe and bathrobes. The rooms don't come with an iron and ironing board meaning you are obliged to give your creased apparel to the laundry service. The white-tiled bathrooms have a marble-topped vanity, bathtub/shower combination, aesthetics trolley, hairdryer and heated towel rack. Some of the larger guestrooms have balconies while the superior sea rooms have a slightly different décor with beams and a more sober colour tone.
The suites all offer living spaces (in most cases separate) and some have small entrance halls. Many also have terrace with sea view while the presidential suite offers a view of the casino's illuminations.
It is important to point out that the room décor is very traditional and some guests may find it a little stuffy. If you are looking for something more contemporary or uncluttered you might want to look elsewhere.
La Belle Epoque is the hotel's imposing dining room in which all three meals of the day are served as well as a very popular brunch on Sundays and public holidays. The grand space boasts huge wall mirrors, swooping chandeliers, a conservatory type area and a heated terrace beyond. Around the walls are portraits of some of the many famous guests who have passed through the hotel's doors in the past, most of whom are French. The perfectly laid tables each have a small flower on them and mahogany chairs are pulled up at the sides. Breakfast is in the form of a buffet and includes both continental and hot fare while an à la carte lunch can be taken between the hours of 12.30pm and 2pm. Dinner can either be taken as a buffet or on an à la carte basis and there are often special 'formule' available including drinks. Brunch is accompanied by a pianist and the buffet includes a raw bar, roast meat carved in front of you and local cheeses.
The delightful, wood-panelled American Bar is a spacious yet cosy place to relax with a cocktail, glass of wine or, seeing as the bar specialises in it, whisky. Decorated with equestrian and seaside tableaux on the walls and with a fireplace alight in the winter, the bar also serves an afternoon tea, in part from its typical dessert trolley parked just next to the piano. This latter is performed on throughout winter, at the weekends and during the Parisian school holidays.
La Fermette is a special restaurant just for children. Set up in one of the hotel's meeting rooms at the weekend and during the Parisian school holidays, it offers a special menu just for kids and there is a dedicated waiter to serve them too!
For those preferring to dine 'al fresco' there are two options in the form of the Bar de la Mer and the Bar du Soleil both on the seafront, just seconds from the hotel, and both serving traditional breakfasts and lunches. Open every day of the week.
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