The crisp feel of efficient luxury on one of the best sites in the city.
Perched above the entry to the Vieux Port, the Sofitel commands outstanding views which take in Marseille’s past grandeur at a glance.
Out front, the port remains the focal point for the monumental bustle of a city in flux between the 19th and 21st-centuries. It’s an inebriating backdrop to dinner in the top-floor restaurant, a drink in Le Carré bar or whatever you happen to be doing in your bedroom. (Go for the ‘Superior’ or ‘Luxury’ rooms to be sure of the view, if funds allow.)
But it’s a chain, you will say. “So what?” I will reply. At these prices, I’m very happy to swap cosy familiarity for reliable top-class standards. Since wholesale renovation in 2009, the Sofitel is, from vast lobby to terrace and beyond, even lighter and airier than it was before. And hipper, too. Public spaces have come under the influence of a designer interpretation of maritime themes. Pearly light comes from sea-shells. Works of art attract the eye. Chairs are jauntily blue and white. It sounds unlikely, but it works well.
Rooms are big and of sober modern design, with muted blues, greys and greens. They all have either a double bath or one of those ‘let’s-wash-under-Niagara’ power showers. Eating in the restaurant is both toothsomely contemporary (I'm not quite sure why there’s no Michelin star) and also like dining on a cruise ship. Though if you really were on a ship, you’d be worried about the rocks all around. You might also worry that €23 was a bit steep for breakfast.
There’s a lovely terrace, outdoor pool and, now, a So SPA which those who know about these things say is very satisfactory. Whenever I’ve wandered into this Sofitel, I’ve always assumed that things would work, that there would be a wrap-around sense of privilege, that bedrooms would be chic and comfortable, and the staff polite. I’ve also assumed that I would pay accordingly. I’ve not been disappointed yet.