Casa Honore

Marseille, Provence, France Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
A designer B&B with a very cool pool, tucked away in a back street close to the famous Vieux Port
Marseille is a vibrant city: full of attitude, defiantly independent, far prettier than you might imagine. Towering above it is the Basilique Notre Dame, one of those iconic landmarks that follow you around wherever you go. At its centre is the Vieux Port - a natural harbour into which the Greeks sailed in 600BC, thus founding the city. Fast-forward 2,500 years and you find this indisputably hip B&B two streets up from the water. It hides behind a nondescript front door - just like the city, you must scratch beneath the surface to discover its beauty.

At the heart of the minimalist home is a swimming-pool courtyard, flanked by a jungle of palms, bougainvillea and banana trees. White-walled interiors hold cool furniture, contemporary art, colour-mixed concrete floors and walls of glass. Rooms are equally quirky. Two are big, 2 are smaller, and all have courtyard views, stylish bathrooms and comfy beds dressed in smart linen. It’s no surprise to find that Annick’s restaurant 2 doors down the street is just as distinctive. It doubles as a chic shop, but the food’s good, too.

Highs

  • The lush, courtyard pool hidden away in the middle of the city
  • Interiors are a real surprise - it’s as if you’re in a contemporary art installation
  • You’re in the centre of town so you won’t need your car while you’re here
  • The relaxed atmosphere; heaven to return to after a day's sightseeing

Lows

  • There’s a bit of noise: footsteps chime on ceramic floors, the occasional door slams
  • Bathrooms look good, but our shower head didn’t fit its hook and needed to be held
  • The sitting room is not strictly for guests to use, which seems unwelcoming
  • Pool hours are restricted, 10am-6pm

Best time to go

Marseille is an all-round city, so visit whenever you can. The city comes alive in summer.

Our top tips

If you want to explore the local area, you can hire scooters in town and potter off down to Les Gordes. You’ll pass La Plage des Catalans (the best beach in town), then wind through great country with fine watery views. The best beaches in the area are at Cassis.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4
  • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Striking rooms come in the same minimalist design as the house (this is not your average B&B). They circle the swimming pool terrace below, the smaller rooms running along one side, the bigger rooms standing at each end. They come in white, but all have their own colour - orange, yellow, green, red - which is used for blankets and lampshades, perhaps a little art. Rooms 438 and 207 are fine for a night or for people travelling alone, but other than that you’d want to take Room 693 or 806, which give the space and light you need for longer stays; bigger windows give better views, too.

You get great beds, pressed white linen and always something beautiful to catch the eye. One has green lamps hanging low on wires that descend from the ceiling; another has a bed that rests against a false wall, behind which you find your bathroom. You get contemporary art, white voile curtains, flat-screen TVs, CD players, free WiFi, too. Good bathrooms come in black slate; you’ll find smart toiletries and big white towels.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Extra beds
  • Honesty bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is served in the first-floor dining room, where French windows open onto a tiny balcony that overlooks the pool. It’s a relatively simple affair: freshly squeezed orange juice, yoghurt and fruit salad, a wooden breadboard for your baguette, then croissant and pains aux chocolat, jams and honey, tea and coffee.

For lunch, hop next door to Annick’s stylish restaurant/shop, where you can eat good simple food at reasonable prices: soup of the day, a plate of charcuterie or delicious French cheeses, perhaps risotto or lasagne. Wicker lampshades hang above black lacquered tables, which are surrounded by shop shelves selling linen, wine, toiletries and ornaments (you can browse while you wait for your dinner). It’s very French… and open Tuesday-Friday for lunch; and Thursday, Friday and Saturday for dinner.

Marseille itself has a limitless supply of restaurants and cafés to suit every taste and budget. It is best known for the dish it gave the world: bouillabaisse.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The Vieux Port is the heart of Marseille, with bars and cafés horseshoeing around a harbour filled with boats (the sun favours the north quai). A small ferry nips across from one side to the other, thus saving your feet a thousand footsteps. Boat trips to nearby islands set sail from the south-eastern corner. Fort St Jean and Fort St Nicholas guard its entrance to the north and south respectfully
  • Le Panier sits directly above the north quai, the oldest part of Marseille (settled by Greeks in 600BC). In 1943 it was a warren of narrow alleyways, which occupying German forces deemed too difficult to defend from resistance fighters. They gave inhabitants 24 hours to evacuate, then flattened it. It is now a strange mix of architecture, but well worth visiting. It’s almost as if Marseille’s soul lives here
  • Notre-Dame-de-La Garde sits on top of the city’s highest hill, with fabulous views back down over land and sea. Inside, the walls hold a pictorial history of Marseille - well worth seeing
  • Take a boat trip to Chateau d’If: In his famous novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas kindly let his hero, Edmund Dantes, escape from Chateau d’If after 5 years imprisonment on the island, neatly illuminating the different fates of fictional characters and real people (most prisoners died). Boats leave from Quai des Belges every hour. The view back to Marseille is excellent
  • There’s lots more to see and do along this stretch of coast. For more of our favourites, see our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are welcome, though the hotel has more of a grown-up vibe.

Family friendly accommodation:

Room 806 can fit an extra bed and baby cot, while Rooms 2017 and 693 can fit or the other.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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