Stay Here: Hotel Barrière Le Majestic CannesBy Howard Malin
Ah, Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes (Phew! Such a mouthful – thus hereinafter known as Le Majestic). The mere mention of this hotel’s name is enough to send shivers of anticipation down the spines of those who appreciate the finer things in life.
In arguably the best location on the famous Croisette, a stone’s throw down the beachfront from its equally iconic neighbour The Carton (built by the same London born visionary Henru Ruhl), this grand dame of the French riviera does not disappoint.
Cannes needs no introduction from me – the playground of the rich and famous – along with St Tropez, Antibes and the like, it is one the glamorous resorts of the French Riviera – and of course, home to the Cannes Film Festival each May. Indeed Le Majestic is situated slap bang next door to the Palais in which the Festival is held – so you’ll know where to stay when your film is next featured, if you want to mingle with the stars. There are two and a half thousand black and white photographs of film stars hung on the walls around the hotel, adding to the glamour of the place, and emphasising its long association with Festival and the world’s top film stars.
Directly on the beachfront, with views of the glittering Mediterranean, the hotel is almost too perfect to be real. I spent my time strolling along the promenade, soaking up the sun and taking in the beauty of the Riviera, stopping off at cafés to watch the beautiful people and their wildly expensive Ferragamo handbags go by. Here’s everything you need to know about the hotel:
From the moment I arrived, I was struck by the sheer luxury and rather understated elegance of Le Majestic, built in 1926, and retaining many of the original and stylish art deco features from that era. Reminiscent of La Belle Époque the lobby is dominated by enormous chandeliers, and the air filled with the scent of huge fresh flower arrangements. A legion of smiling staff greets guests, with nothing being too much trouble. The check-in was efficient and professional, and before I knew it, I was being whisked up to my room by a charming member of staff.
What joy overcame me as I was ushered in to my Prestige Vue Mer room, with its spectacular view over the Mediterranean from huge French doors. The decor was classic and elegant, with plush furnishings and sumptuous bedding that practically begged me to sink into it.
The bathroom was a work of art in itself, with gleaming marble surfaces and indulgent toiletries that left me feeling pampered and spoilt. Everything was perfect – the fully stocked mini bar, the snacks and treats, the Nespresso machine with choice of coffees – and a brilliant pillow menu offering me a range of pillow fillings and of varying firmness. Oh, the luxury of it all.
There can be no complaints about the food offerings at the hotel either – with its four restaurants overseen by the charming and talented Executive Head Chef Pierrick Cizeron. Guests are spoiled for choice – two restaurants within the hotel, and one each on the private beaches of Le Majestic (interestingly the very first private beach in Cannes) and its adjacent sister hotel The Gray D’Albion. The menus are very accessible, and rely very much on the quality and provenance of their ingredients and produce, the sourcing of which is painstaking.
The main restaurant in Le Majestic is a satellite of the famous Fouquet’s on Champs Elysée – also owned by Barrière family – with its brasserie menu of French and Italian dishes, created by the three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire.
My Caesar salad with shrimp was the perfect starter, followed by the freshest Sole Meunière I can remember. I loved the informality Fouquet’s – it’s friendly service and easy menu making for a pleasant and relaxed evening, rare in the restaurants of such vaunted hotels.
Bfire is the restaurant on Le Majestic beach, directly across from the hotel, offering a menu of wood-oven cooked dishes by celebrated Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco. We had the juiciest, tastiest and fattest shrimp I’ve ever seen – with a flavour that only a wood oven could produce. These were served with roasted macadamia nuts, lime and herbs. And to finish, the pear pie roasted over their open fire was exceptional.
At Restaurant Mademoiselle Gray Plage Barrière (another mouthful, sorry) – on the next beach (same ownership) we enjoyed a perfect dish of pan-seared scallops with celeriac, truffle broth, and granny smith apple, and a delicious side spinach and mushroom fricassée. Amazing what they can knock up at the beach.
In July 2020, the hotel opened Restaurant Paradiso to much critical acclaim, by the fabled Nicole Rubi and the same garlanded Pierre Gagnaire (who creates the menus for Foquets) – but sadly I missed it on this trip – the restaurant being seasonal and only opening May to October. But I looked at the menu of French and Italian classic dishes – and I’ve booked to return in June.
These are off the scale amazing and make a visit to Bar Galerie du Fouquet’s Cannes, a welcoming bar off the main lobby of the hotel, an absolute must. Emanuele Balestra is the passionate botanist and famous mixologist that runs the bars here – and his cocktails are simply out of this world.
Incredibly, he grows his own aromatic herbs and flowers in the hotel garden, has his own hives on the roof of the hotel, and his own lab to extract scents and flavours from these – with which he creates his utterly extraordinary cocktails. Just to watch the cocktails being prepared is entertainment enough, then to be offered a spray scent reflecting the taste of the cocktail is simply amazing. I’ve never had so many senses awakened by a cocktail before, or tasted anything like them. I don’t have words to describe how insanely delicious and perfumed Emanuele Balestra’s creations are, but unique and extraordinary come close.
The Spa Diane Barrière offers an exhaustive range of the most pampering, vitality treatments by Biologique Recherche and Ligne St-Barthe. My massage and facial were sublime – at the end of which, I wanted to ask Manon to marry me.
You will not need to be Sherlock Holmes (or Jules Maigret even) to deduce from the above that I loved my stay at Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes – and you are correct. It is the perfect combination of style, elegance, and glamour – whilst remaining understated and relaxed. The service is old style perfect, the ambiance convivial in the restaurants and bars, the décor luxurious, and the amenities of the spa, gym and glorious outdoor pool, all of the highest standard.
Personally – I would avoid the crowds in July and August, when Cannes takes on a different atmosphere when overwhelmed by tourists. However for a luxurious and indulgent out of season break – it will be difficult to beat. The prices are high, but the value is good – the Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes is an indulgence not to be missed.