Tranquillity, pampering and an Oriental flourish.
To tempt customers a 20-minute bus ride from the Vieux Port and Marseille centre requires serious arguments. The high-design, very contemporary Villa Massalia has several.
For a start, this is the leafy south-side, where the more lavish Marseillais live overlooking the beaches. Out here, the melting pot barely simmers. And then the hotel is on the edge of a lovely park and race-course. It rises like something left behind by the Greeks. From certain angles, you might say a classical temple. There are worse ways to look.
Inside, light floods a lobby of white columns, blond wood flooring and cracking chandeliers. It will help if you have decent luggage, for scruffy bags will ruin the lines. Standard rooms are, of course, termed “superior” (I’d love to find a hotel brave enough to call its rooms “inferior”) – but not undeservedly so. There’s a clear, almost masculine, chic about the light oak, leather and marble. Bathrooms will clean you up in modern fashion. I like all this very much. I would. I'm a man.
Spas, bars and all that jazz
The only problem is the lack of sea view: the windows give out over greensward and/or a road. Deluxe rooms are much the same, but with terraces and a good sight of the Med in the mid-distance. If you’ve got the cash, they’re probably worth the extra. If you’ve got even more cash, the four executive suites are themed on the Silk Road – and as silkily sumptuous as you like.
Back downstairs, a Siwa Spa offers the full monty of saunas, treatments, Jacuzzis and a swimming pool which starts off inside, then goes outside. After that (or, in my case, instead of that) you’ll need the Chang’an Bar which takes up the Asian-Silk Road theme with walls upholstered in red silk and the obligatory purple lighting. It’s no surprise to learn that live jazz swings into action here on occasions. Good preparation, then, for the hotel’s colonial style Yin-Yang restaurant, with its Med-oriental fusion food and outdoor terrace.
Granted, the place is a healthy trot from the city centre – but the beach is just across the park, and there’s something to be said for luxurious tranquillity.
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