Gina Baksa heads to the French Riviera for a stay at one of the city’s most iconic hotels, the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes, which looks out across the Mediterranean Sea.
There’s nothing like stepping on board a flight at rainy Heathrow and arriving two hours later on the French Riviera. Hello Nice! Swaying palms, cerulean blue sky and a gentle 15 degrees make me wonder why I didn’t move here 20 years ago. But as Churchill wisely said: never look back. Therefore, I kept my eyes firmly on the taxi transfer to Cannes and our hotel destination – the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes.
Barely 30 minutes later, we swept into the sleek driveway of this Belle Epoque icon, glimpsing the heated outdoor pool and the snazzy Veuve Clique cupola which must be wonderful in summer.
The Majestic opened in 1926, the brainchild of legendary hotelier Henri Ruhl of Carlton (Cannes) and Rhul (Nice) fame. Its two wings and main façade are a Cannes architectural marvel and seriously impressive.
The doormen were helpful and friendly (such a change to Paris!) and ushered us into the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic’s cathedral-like lobby space. Magnificent lighting by Sylvie Maréchal illuminated the cream, ivory and beige colour scheme, itself the backdrop to gilded statues and wooden-clad columns. The effect was warm, sophisticated, luxurious and very welcoming.
“Vous avez une belle chambre,” the friendly front desk smiled, handing over my key card. She was right: my door opened to reveal the most wonderful balcony room (acres of space and a huge bathroom) facing south across the Croisette and the Bay of Cannes. The mole and cream colour scheme echoed the subtle sophistication of the lobby area with its discreet lighting, dramatic drapes and elegant furniture. The bonsai tree was a nice touch…but it’s the views from that balcony that enchanted me.
With a glass of bubbly in hand, I made for the sun loungers and gazed out to sea. Below me, the Majestic’s gardens shone in the soft February light…the pool a tad cold, but still inviting. I enjoyed the silent majestic palms that line the Croisette using the binoculars provided to scope out the Lérins islands in the distance. To my right, I could make out the superyachts in the Marina, literally a multi-million-dollar view.
Small wonder the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic is the accommodation of choice for Hollywood glitterati during the Cannes Film Festival each May. The corridors and landings have countless black and white images of Tinseltown legends: from Sophia Loren to Cate Blanchett, via Bogie and Bacall and the cream of French thespians. They’ve all stayed here. Tearing myself away from this vista was difficult, but a light lunch at nearby sister Hotel Le Gray D’Albion was calling.
La Terrace du Gray at the Hôtel Barrière le Gray d’Albion
The outdoor terrace at the Majestic’s sister property, Hotel Le Gray d’Albion, wasn’t open when we arrived for lunch, so we dined inside. Main dishes included roasted back cod, filet of fried beef and candied lamb shanks, alongside a selection of healthy salads. My fish was superb. We indulged in ice cream and coffee, by which time I needed a long walk to work up an appetite for dinner and made my way out into the sun-drenched Croisette.
The Croisette is an integral part of Cannes, a two-kilometre stretch of seaside road that’s home to luxury boutiques, the city’s luxury hotels and of course the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. I walked to the marina and admired the superyachts being spruced and polished by young, Polo-shirted crew.
Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes Penthouse and Suites
Later that afternoon, we were given an extensive tour of the facilities and the superb suites at the hotel. The Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes boasts 57 rooms and 92 suites across seven floors. The pièce de résistance is the jaw-dropping Penthouse Suite on the top floor of the Majestic’s ‘new’ wing. This 450 square-metre apartment has a 150 square-metre private terrace, plus an 11-metre pool with a killer view.
Designer Pascal Desprez’s flourish here is a mix of French elegance. I loved the wood tones and ample use of light, and the home cinema was stunning. Other penthouses at the Majestic include the Christian Dior Suite, the Mélodie, the Riviera and the Michèle Morgan. Each has its own unique design, all boast stunning views over the Croisette and the Festival, and they all enjoy the services of their own dedicated butler.
We had a superb wine tasting in the glamorous Christian Dior Suite before dinner. Silks and velvets against exquisite Pullman armchairs, and stone and Hungarian herringbone parquet floor in the dining area. Our experienced young sommelier Anais Beaudoin gave us a test taster and an hors d’oeuvres pairing quiz. I loved the award-winning Chateau Gassier Côtes de Provence Saint-Victoire 946 rosé, and equally enjoyed Domaine Saint Jean Bellet from 2017.