During my road trip in Provence last September, I made a quick stop in Marseille, where I spent the night at the Intercontinental. Officially opened in 2013, the Intercontinental has become the most luxurious hotel in the city. This superb building, a splendid witness of Marseille’s history, has been magnificently renovated to welcome visitors in its beautiful 194 rooms and suites. More below on my 24 hours inside this luxury establishment!
Currently undergoing a transformation, Marseille has begun looking toward the future over the past few years. The “Phocaean City” has more than one trick up its sleeve, including a magnificent beach and the Calanques National Park only a stone’s throw away, as well as a typical southern French ambiance and plenty of energy, as evidenced by the MUCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations) freshly opened in 2013. It’s also the gateway to Provence, and I was happy to have the chance to explore the city!
A Magnificent Renovation at the Hôtel-Dieu
The Intercontinental Marseille opened its doors in the midst of an economic boom in 2013. This fantastic 18th-century building, classified as a Monument Historique and with foundations dating back to the 17th century, was a hospital until 1993. It then underwent a complete renewal: with majestic staircases, vaulted corridors, and superb terraces, the top-to-bottom renovation preserved the history and the spirit of the Hôtel-Dieu. With 120 million euros invested for the refurbishment, the Intercontinental became the crown jewel of Marseille’s hotel scene.
194 Urban-Style Rooms and Suites
The Intercontinental Marseille offers 172 rooms and 22 suites. Of course, it’s best to book a room with a view of the port to admire the idyllic scene at all hours of the day and night. Architect Jean-Philippe Nuel turned these rooms into cozy urban cocoons, with a décor that beautifully complements the historic building. I stayed in an Executive Terrace Room, the best category before the suites, which featured a sober, modern style. Its best asset was of course the gorgeous terrace, which also served as a second living area, especially with the warm mid-September weather.
A Dream View of the City
One of the establishment’s trump cards is its fantastic 750 m² terrace, a common meeting place for both visitors at the hotel as well as locals who appreciate the splendid view. The bar “Capian” is a great place for a drink at any time of the day or night. With its numerous events and theme nights throughout the year, it’s one of the trendiest bars in the city.
Two Restaurants Paying Tribute to Southern French Flavors
In terms of gastronomy, the Intercontinental Marseille offers two restaurants, both headed by chef Lionel Levy. At “Alcyone,” awarded one Michelin star, the chef proposes his modern and creative interpretation of Marseille-style cuisine. A true Marseillais himself, he places an emphasis on local and seasonal products in both his signature restaurant and his brasserie “Les Fenêtres,” where we had our dinner. During the winter, the dining room features a chic and modern décor, but since the weather was warm, we chose a table on the terrace.
The brasserie menu offers plenty of delicious seafood options—it’s so mouthwatering that we could hardly decide! I began the meal with a meagre fish tartare with pomegranate and a black radish salad with wasabi, while my husband gave in to the chef’s signature dish: the bouillabaisse milkshake. Marseille’s emblematic culinary specialty, reinterpreted by the chef, yielded a surprising result: original and flavorful, his bet paid off! We continued with a sea bass fillet with a Crécy garnish and iodized infusion with saffron, which was incredible!
An Urban Spa under the Clarins Brand
In an intimate space featuring a traditional Provençal interior design, the Spa by Clarins offers every amenity needed for total relaxation. Spread over 1000 m², the spa includes a heated indoor pool (28° C, or 82° F), 5 treatment rooms (with one double), and the classics: experience shower, steam room, sauna, solarium, fitness room, and plenty of space to unwind. The prestigious brand Clarins was chosen for high-quality treatments and massages.
Fans of the southern coast in France will adore an urban getaway at the Intercontinental Marseille. The fantastic renovatio make this the best hotel in the city. But the superb view of the Vieux Port and the symbolic Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica is obviously the hotel’s best feature; guests can admire it from the beautiful terrace while eating at the brasserie or getting a drink at the bar, then continue to gaze at it from their rooms. All of the ingredients of luxury hospitality come together here, making the Intercontinental Marseille the perfect place to stay in southern France.
- The fantastic view, especially from the grande terrasse where guests can sit at any time of day or night!
- The beautiful renovation of this historical building
- The perfect location for visiting Marseille
- The service was rather amateur, whether at reception or at the restaurant. Too bad!
- More information available on their website
- Executive Terrace Room starting at 635 € in September 2018
Thank you to the Intercontinental Marseille for the invitation to explore their establishment. Of course, the content of this blogpost was left entirely up to me!