Ho­tel nhow Mar­seille

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Contents - Do­minic Bliss

BACK­GROUND

There have been ther­mal baths on this site since the 1870s, but it wasn’t un­til 1974 that the first ho­tel was built. Sev­eral in­car­na­tions later it has now been re­born as the nhow Mar­seille, aimed at tourists and busi­ness vis­i­tors, de­signed by ar­chi­tects Claire Fatosme, Chris­tian Le­fèvre and Teresa Sapey, and owned by the So­ciété Hôtelière du Palm Beach.

WHERE IS IT?

Three miles east along the Cor­niche seafront from the city cen­tre, this part of Mar­seille is known as Le Rou­cas-Blanc. The area com­bines up­mar­ket res­i­den­tial hous­ing, park­land and city beaches, with the cen­tre an hour’s walk away. The air­port is half an hour in a taxi on a good day. There’s no metro sta­tion nearby, but a bus route con­nects to the city.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Since the ho­tel is on a hill, re­cep­tion is on level three, while the rooms are lower down. Your eye is drawn to one de­sign fea­ture af­ter an­other around ev­ery cor­ner of this mod­ernist 1970s build­ing. A steel-sar­dine chan­de­lier, psy­che­delic arm­chairs, wall-mounted ci­cadas, fish-shaped cush­ions, diver mu­rals, prints of graf­fiti from Mar­seille, the Cac­tus Bar... the in­te­rior de­sign­ers have cer­tainly been busy. And you’d bet­ter like yel­low, since this is the dom­i­nant hue through­out.

In­stead of wall-mounted sig­nage, there are way-finding in­struc­tions pro­jected in light onto the car­pet at ev­ery cor­ri­dor junc­tion – more con­fus­ing than help­ful. For­tu­nately the friendly staff will point you in the right di­rec­tion. The over­all look is let down by a small, grubby beach just be­yond the pool.

ROOMS

The ho­tel’s 150 rooms span two floors. In­spired by typ­i­cal Mar­seille beach huts, the in­te­ri­ors are splashed with black, yel­low and white, and range from stan­dard and fam­ily up to pre­mium and suites, with one split-level pent­house. Many have seav­iew bal­conies on one side; all have dark, moody cor­ri­dors on the other. Each room fea­tures a Ne­spresso ma­chine and large flatscreen TV. And don’t be con­fused by the plas­tic wall hang­ing be­hind each bed with the phrase “MRS 43-5” em­bla­zoned on it. It’s Mar­seille’s lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude.

FOOD AND DRINK

The main restau­rant over­looks the swim­ming pool. Chef Ben­jamin Mathieu of­fers Mediter­ranean dishes such as oc­to­pus, bar­be­cued beef, spiced lamb, tuna and mul­let.

On the pool level, the Tun­nel Bar is open un­til 11.30pm. Above is the Sky­bar un­til 2am. For an ex­tra charge, the ho­tel can ar­range par­ties and for­mal din­ners at De­gaby Is­land, a for­ti­fied is­land a boat ride away in the Bay of Mar­seille.

MEET­INGS

There are 16 meet­ing spa­ces, with room for 420 peo­ple, avail­able in var­i­ous con­fig­u­ra­tions. Half of them have sea views. In ad­di­tion is the am­phithe­atre, with 322 seats and a vast cinema screen, which Nhow claims is the largest such meet­ing space in Mar­seille. There’s also com­pli­men­tary and (for France) sur­pris­ingly strong wifi through­out the ho­tel.

LEISURE

Ther­mal spring­wa­ter flows down from the hills to fill the huge pool right on the seafront, which has a deck large enough to ac­com­mo­date all the ho­tel guests, with views right across the Bay of Mar­seille. Don’t be put off by the sul­phurous wa­ter – it’s very good for the skin. There’s also a tiny spa (€15) with two spa baths, a plunge pool, ham­mam and a dis­tinctly un­der­whelm­ing fit­ness room (free to use). Right next door is Mar­seille’s mu­nic­i­pal sail­ing club, host venue for the 2024 Olympics. Here you can hire any float­ing ves­sel you’d want.

VER­DICT

Away from the bus­tle of cen­tral Mar­seille, this com­pletely re­fur­bished ho­tel of­fers a re­laxed at­mos­phere with good fa­cil­i­ties.

Fish-shaped cush­ions, graf­fiti prints, the Cac­tus Bar... the de­sign­ers have been busy

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