Cannes Preview: Checking in at the Spectacular Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic, Part I

“Now that the Festival is back in full effect,” Head Concierge Gilles Bastoni enthuses, Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic “will take back its place.” And that place is as the most stylishly happening, warmly welcoming 5-star resort – an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival (this year running May 17 – May 28) since its inception in 1946 – on the French Riviera.

Checking into this stunning Belle Epoque-style property, located directly across from the sea, sand and famous red-carpeted covered steps of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, set our hearts swooning. We’d arrived in the relative calm of those few weeks before a glamour-fueled storm, more than ready to partake in all Le Majestic had on offer. In addition to the hotel’s unparalleled standard of service, sustainability is also part of the mission. Lessening its carbon footprint through good practices, its enviro-friendly policies even support biodiversity by maintaining four beehives on its rooftops. But we’ll get to those bees later.

No one is perhaps more passionate about the hotel experience than the congenial Cannes-native Bastoni, taking the Head Concierge mantle in 2018 from his father, who had the very same role for decades starting in 1975. “We’ve built a relationship of trust between guests and our employees, so they come back year after year, to feel part of the Cannes family.” (That “family,” by the way, includes the likes of Robert De Niro, Matthew McConaughey…even Paris Hilton.)

He and his team are used to fielding hundreds upon hundreds of requests daily, ranging from booking yachts, securing entry to the most exclusive parties, helicoptering in evening gowns last minute, and pretty much making any guest’s – celeb or not – wishes come true whilst at Le Majestic. Rightly billed as “palace”-style services, this includes quirkier offerings like a “pillow menu” allowing guests to choose just the right one for a restful sleep. Then the more expected, access to that season’s hottest addresses in town: nightlife, restaurants, museums, etc… Equally attentive to the needs of guests’ pets, there’s also a range of adorable cushions, signature dish ware, and freshly prepared meals of meat and rice for our four-legged jet setting friends.

But let’s talk lobby, this one is meant for lingering. A dreamy combination of cream, ivory and beige, mixed with gilded statuary, entirely redone in 2016 by world-famous interior design firm Alexandre Danan, and featuring a mesmerizing series of light fixtures by “the poet of light,” Sylvie Maréchal. We loved the overall airy vibe, where we imagined Clooney and Cruise, Blanchett and Cotillard whisking through, air kisses all around. In addition to 700 overnight guests, the hotel hosts 8000 festival-goers within its restaurants, bars, conference rooms, and the Cinémathèque Diane for film screenings, during this very intense, very celebratory 12 days.

We don’t use the word breathtaking often, but there’s no other word to describe our reaction upon entering our suite. Opening up to a dazzling panoramic view of the glittering Mediterranean, we vigorously recommend booking a room with one of those well-appointed balconies. Taking in the sun and sea under a French blue sky, with freshly made croissant and coffee, mornings were definitely a thing for us.

Complementing the sleek tranquility of the room’s decor, we were tickled by identifying all the star portraits adorning the hotel’s hallways on our way in and out. Under the watchful eyes of Pacino outside our front door, we learned the hotel has a remarkable collection of over 2,500 photos covering 60 years of the Festival. The best of French cinema including Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Romy Schneider and Catherine Deneuve, ‘rub shoulders’ with Hollywood greats like Damon, Spielberg, Coppola, and Penn. So fun!

If a bigger splurge is what you’re after, we got a sneak peek at the “Jewels on the Croisette.” These are Le Majestic’s most exceptional suites, including our very favorite, the Christian Dior Suite. Combining the inimitable style of Dior with the expertise of the Barrière Group, it is the creation of the Parisian fashion house’s own Nathalie Ryan. The two renowned companies collaborate every year during the Cannes Film Festival, where the designer takes up residence in this “haute couture”-influenced suite – then the stars come to choose their evening wear before walking the red carpet. Jennifer Lawrence was a recent Festival-season guest, her Dior dress(es) arriving just ahead of her.

Lavish detailing in a dining room with a stone and Hungarian herringbone parquet floor, a rotunda referencing the ceiling of an Avenue Montaigne boutique, a table in Louis XVI style, and grey and silver medallion chairs, lavishly set the Dior Suite apart. Even the cushions on the sofa, in the brilliant red created by Monsieur Dior himself, use the designer’s historic pleated motif. The suite also features a home cinema system offering the very best in cutting-edge technology. So rock out under portraits of Princess Grace of Monaco, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, and Charlize Theron in a dishy red Dior number…all adding that very special something to this achingly chic room.

The largest suite (bigger than most New York City apartments), the Majestic Penthouse, occupies the new wing on the hotel’s top floor with a perfect-for-parties private terrace offering a panoramic view – close to the festival action but lavishly ensconced above, with an 11-meter swimming pool. Redefining the height of luxury, designer Pascal Desprez subtly blends seaside ambience and classic French elegance, in a profusion of wood and warm tones. We took notice of the starry sky – this one made of optic fibers installed in the ceiling dome for a dazzlingly unique effect.

We also popped by the Riviera, Melodie and Michele Morgan suites, equally impressive with views to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. Notably, all of the suites come with Le Majestic’s private butler, sure to satisfy every and any need as it arises.

Continue on to Part II

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