Friday, October 25, 2013

HOTEL CHECK FRANCE, Intercontinental Carlton Cannes

Heading along the French Riviera, Select Collection did what the crème de la crème do. Called in at ...
Intercontinental Carlton Cannes.
Standing grandly on  La Croisette boulevard this Cannes hotel almost calls for a bow of respect as you enter. It reeks of old class,  glittering celebrities, and the glorious Belle Époque.
Here you dine in style in the deeply trad Carlton restaurant or even better linger on the patio under the fresh white and lemony yellow awnings. From here the pale glitter of turquoise sea stretches beyond the palm lined boulevard. 

From the trad to the chic and then sunshine...

Wish to dine or merely lounge by the sea, the hotel's own beach club welcomes you with a sign '100 years of Elegance'. The biscuity sand matches the generous umbrellas in gorgeously mellow tones.

The turquoise bay of Cannes

Rooms are named with the discretion of this classy hotel. Many rooms  have balconies offering partial sea view. Some hotels might call them Sea view or Partial Sea view rooms. The Intercontinental Carlton just calls them Superior with City view.  All else is a bonus.

Superior City view room -  more than city.

Sandy mellow tones and its own classic style

Newly renovated Classic room

If you book a Sea view room, you not only get a sea view –  you get the sound of waves. Magical.

Entrancing spot to enjoy room service and the music of waves

Deluxe sea view room
The décor has warm sandy tones, and fine hand printed wallpapers. Classy, original, and  very rooted in grand traditions. Here celebrities have been and celebrities will come, likely to upgrade themselves to one of 10 remarkable suites on the top floor. In the case of suites, the hotel waxes lyrical, using the names of famous stars.
Of course there is a spa offering exclusive treatments with exclusive products.

No pool - but who needs one - when your sunbeds stretch out on the sands under cappuccino  sunshades … and in rolls the  turquoise sea

Friday, October 18, 2013

HOTEL CHECK FRANCE, Hôtel de Paris Saint-Tropez

The glam and trendy St Tropez awakes between these walls. Closed for 20 years, the old Hôtel de Paris has been transformed into a smart design hotel that combines contemporary lines and daring with some Sixties and Seventies nostalgia, from top to toe.

Adventurous touches and distinct style

This reincarnated lifestyle destination is bang in the middle of the quaint village, just a few steps from designer boutiques and nightspots, and the picture postcard harbor…

And a sense of place. From the top, boats seen
bobbing on the Gulf of St Tropez
With boats from all over the world

Sleek yachts in what was once a fishing harbour
Also 10 minutes by shuttle to the pale gold sandy beaches of Pampelonne, while the warm weather lasts.

A public beach at Pampelonne
This is not a seasonal hotel. It will continue to welcome guests through the winter, attracting with  the urban pleasures of St Tropez, its own sleek spa, high tech  fitness and advanced event facilities. And of course the cool and trendy ambience of the hotel…

Spa enfolding like a pure White coccoon
Designer passion is unmistakable at Hôtel de Paris.  A suspended swimming pool glints above the glass ceiling of the high atrium lobby. The lobby is a nice place to hang in the evening, with comfy bar and  classy bistro under a 3 Michelin star chef - Georges Blanc.  

Atrium with roof of glass under the pool
and gigantic suspended lumiere,
with a softly inviting bar on the right and
to the left *** Michelin magic...

Le Suffren Café by Georges

Or head up in sunshine to where the pool lies on the roof terrace, for the sight of terracotta rooftops and white sails on the blue.

Swimmer perhaps seen from the lobby below

The rooftops of St Tropez beyond and some pebbles
on the hotel rooftop for atmosphere

Up here is plenty more lounging space, a Japanese restaurant in high season, and a fabulous breakfast room with views out along three walls.

We had a great breakfast too, with pancakes and maple syrup, home made yoghurt and fresh fruit, smoked salmon and all that kind of pampering alongside the expected ...

...wonderfully buttery croissants
But back to the Design thing. Interior designer Sybille de Marjorie went into the glamorous history of St Tropez and the hotel while playing with high tech features. So there are flat screens moving with  underwater creatures, glass lifts sailing up the lobby walls, and  lots of images of gorgeous feminist icons including Brigitte Bardot, who still lives in St Tropez.
And all pretty hi tech

The 52 rooms and 38 suites are vivid with pale and smooth surfaces, playing against moody 70s colours, lines and geometric shapes. About half have balconies to an inner courtyard.
Small and immaculately stylish Classic rooms use space to the optimum

Clarins room amenities - in line with the Spa by Clarins

It's the Warm South - most
rooms have village views

Patio terrace  rooms and suites have balconies to an inner courtyard. A few go way out to celebrate creativity…with round beds and everything possible round even a round shower cabinet in the hallway.      
Watch your partner shower as you lounge on the bed

This patio suite includes one of the famous wicker armchairs from the legendary film Emmanuelle.
The famous chair

Stylish hand basins throughout
Feminine colours in a patio suite bedroom

Our visit coincided with the annual yacht race Voiles de Saint-Tropez – which attracts prestigious sponsors and the world’s best sailors (28 September to 6 October). The marina thronged with spectators; walking or staring out from the long line of cafes and restaurants.

People and boat watching, apertifs and café crême
Yachts fluttering by

Crowding round the famous sailing boats

Among visitors to our hotel were guests travelling in a procession, all in Ferraris…
Bird's eye view of one of the Ferraris, from our room

Meanwhile we did the other obvious thing – we went exploring in the vine and pine covered hills. Guided beautifully by the hotel concierge and our GPS we sought the spirit of Provence close by in Gassin and Ramatuelle.

Gassin / narrow stone streets and flowers

Gassin town hall

Like any Provencal town / an art gallery
with paintings - from 1000 to 10000 euro

Gulf of St Tropez

A fountain from Gassin's mountain side
Then we went beach walking at 26deg C. The Pampelonne beaches stretch for miles, with lovely white soft sand and turquoise water. You can walk along a sandy track past the long line of Beach Clubs, each its own distinctive style and colour, claiming their own bit of waterfront.

A romantic Beach Club - Polynesie

A beach club that welcomes families

Hotel de Paris gives advice on which would suit each group of guests: A family beach? Laid back beach club with DJ? Romantic  beach club? Exclusive beach – with 50 euros for a sunbed, keeping up the tone! Then of course there is the public beach.

...gorgeously empty in the late summer *30 Sep

Enjoying Gassin, drinking and driving...

Braised beef up on the heights of Gassin

The little fishing village of St Tropez was discovered by impressionists and other artists seeking the light and colour of the South of France. Picasso, El Greco and others favoured Hotel de Paris, and then came the 1960s and 1970s, the star-studded years. Finally the sleeping beauty was off stage until this year, 2013…

Friday, October 11, 2013


A surprise. A secret.  This boutique hotel clings to a cliffside, like a Provencal hideaway, with lemon trees, terracotta tiles and garden courtyards - only 20 minutes from Nice airport on the far end of the beach promenade.

From its position high up, La Pérouse has blissful views of the blue and turquoise bay from almost every one of its intimate, light filled rooms. From the terrace of our room 501 we could even see the beach and avenue sweeping round the Bay of Angels.  

Meditational views with boats, canoes, and sails fluttering by

A clear and sparkling pool way down below by Le Patio

You could  hear the slap of waves on the beach, and the sound of birds on the cliffside, not the traffic.* The key to this secret is a row of terraced houses way below, that act as an attractive and effective sound barrier.

The sound barrier

 The hotel entrance lies in one of those houses on a continuation of Promenade des Anglais, Quai Rauba Capeu.

Modest entrance...
It is indeed a modest hotel lobby down there on that busy road. And from that a tiny lift goes up through 5 storeys of flats (without a stop), like a kind of magic machine that takes you from the city of Nice to Provence.
Indeed there are many rustic features in a hotel clinging to a Cliffside. Not for the aged and infirm. To get to our room we took two different lifts, negotiated two short flights of stairs, and a crooked passage.
But it was worth every step. The mood is warm and intimate. We ate a great lunch at the patio restaurant, having driven from St Tropez without a stop.

Parma ham and melon; mozarello, tomato and basil;
a fabulous pesto on toast; and green salad
It is a cosy patio with lemon trees, adjoining a sparkling heated pool under the soaring cliff. Here is a sauna, and fences draped with morning glory. No view at this level – just upwards…

Le Patio

Sparkling pool, flowers and warm October sunshine
Up on the top floor is a spacious garden courtyard with great views. Here too lies the small but high tech gym (3 machines), and a Jacuzzi.

From the raised jacuzzi a view over the roof garden to the sea
Breakfast is on the patio – which also has a heated and covered area. Buffet breakfast including pancakes, cold cuts, cheese, fresh bread, cereals, yoghurt (including the essential natural yoghurt). The request for café latte brought  various results at different meals, depending on whether they interpreted that as café crème, cappuccino, Americaine, café au lait, or latte macchiato.


There are 52 rooms and 8 suites.
Lowest category is classic room – basically garden view rooms, all with balconies most with a partial seaview as bonus.

Garden view room balconies with lovely partial seaview

Next comes superior seaview rooms – all with seaview balconies:

And then deluxe seaview rooms which are a little larger, gaining a sense of space from the expansive balcony or patio and view:

Great place to catch up on your mail in the early evening
And get dreamy at night

Junior suites (7 of them) are different sizes. Our favourite was 612, the one way up on the rooftop garden/sundeck. It is bright and spacious and has two balconies, plus what feels like your own Jacuzzi as this is the only room on that level. People come back to this suite year after year.

With the ambience of a rustic Provencal villa, this rooftop
junior suite has two balconies amidst greenery

Junior suite 612 tucked away on the rooftop - near the Jacuzzi

We inspected a 2-bedroom suite with gigantic sundeck overlooking that fabulous sweep of beach and sea. It is about to be refurbished and rebuilt:

Vast terrace in the generous suite  - great for families
Because it is an old hotel all the rooms are different, even within one room type. So when booking its important to say: seaview and  terrace with sunbed, if that is what you want…rather than to name a  room type.
To show our deluxe room 501, here is a simple iPhone film of arrival in room 501.


Art is a good reason to come to Nice, especially if you lean towards impressionists. And dining is the final big positive. If you feel like getting out, the hotel gives you a list of restaurants so you can steer away from any hasslers. Even on a Monday night some of these excellent spots (good food, well priced) were full – so its good to book.

Click for a closer view of the colourful promanade and
the flower market behind
The promenade and the old city around the flower market is strung like a necklace with restaurants. But even better, the next night we walked the other way – just 350 metres to the port. Here it feels quieter and more local, less tourists. 

* Just a note. For a short period due to wind direction planes were coming in from our side of the bay to land at Nice airport  - visible as a flat peninsula on the far side of the bay. But for the rest of the time we found that rustic beachside  peace prevailed and the sound of the gulls and waves. 

The sea cliff in front of La Perouse at the end of the
beaches along Promenade des Anglais

Miraculous tranquility and yet lots to do. Perfect for a short break in the South of France.