Grandeur from 1930, comfort for 2011.
We're in a movie town, so let's say that the Martinez comes out of one of those 1930s films where chaps wear wide white flannels and ladies are languid with cigarette holders. Having ushered a rich art deco style successfully through the decades, the hotel feels as comfortable, luxurious and contemporary now as it must have done in 1929.
Then the place was biggest hotel on the Côte d’Azur. With more than 400 rooms, it remains pretty large.
The façade soars so huge, stately and iceberg-white that one fears it might be an early victim of global warming. Within, an extravagant acreage of inlaid marble lobby leads to the trademark monumental staircase curving up through all seven floors. Steady as you look over from the top or, like Harold Lloyd, you’ll be doing your own stunts.
Food and philosophy
Even the standard rooms (inevitably termed ‘Superior’) have a swish of pre-war style, reviewed and corrected for 21st-century tastes. There’s a pleasing geometrical rightness about the furniture and lay-out. Wood panelling and period art treasures abound, but discreetly.
Other rooms may be more luminous or, in the ‘Executives’, more masculine. Some of the suites are the size of small houses. The sea views are the stuff of arias. There’s a spa and the expected fitness stuff up on the seventh floor. More usefully, the rather fine piano bar spills out onto the terrace by the pool, Le Relais brasserie supplies good Provençal fare and the main Palme-d’Or restaurant serves the very best food in Cannes.
Being French, chef Christian Sinicropi can’t stop himself having a ‘philosophy’. “The emotion give birth at an artistic line designed by the hand of man (sic throughout),” he writes on the menu. It makes no more sense in French. But his cooking has retained the Palme-d’Or’s two Michelin stars, and deserves no less. There’s another nifty eatery on the Martinez’s vast private beach.