marseille golden tulip exteriorConveniently located for business travellers and cruise tourists, the smart, modern, four-star Golden Tulip Euromed is a chain hotel with some quirky touches and a terrific restaurant.

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The largest hotel in Marseille at the time of our visit, shortly after it opened in 2016, it's located in the heart of the fast expanding Euroméditerranée commercial district, a 15 minute taxi ride from the main cruise terminal.

This part of town is not terribly convenient for Marseille airport. And the main tourist sights on the Old Port are a good 20-30 minute walk from the hotel, even though it is now quite an attractive stroll along the seafront boulevard.

However there are decent bus and tram connections from here, both to the centre of Marseille and to Saint Charles train and bus station. The new Euroméditerranée Arenc train station (which is on the Blue Coast line) is just around the corner.

Plenty of retail therapy is close to hand too. Opposite the Golden Tulip is the vast, shiny new Terrasses du Port shopping mall, the go-to place for major French and international outlets such as Uniqlo, Adidas or Little Marcel.

marseille golden tulip lobbyRight next door is the equally huge but funkier Les Docks complex, an award-winning conversion of the former docks warehouses, which specialises in local produce and artisans.

The Golden Tulip itself has a maritime theme. Outside, the huge building, pictured top left, by the Italian starchitect Massimiliano Fuksas, resembles a sleek white ocean liner moored alongside the bay.

Inside, an airy, open-plan, blue and red entrance lobby is dominated by a splashy marine fresco, pictured, by the Marseille street artist Rémy Uno.

In the middle is a bar and, all around, lots of seating areas. A big bookcase groans with games and a curious selection of design-themed reading: 100 Contemporary Concrete Buildings, anyone?

Sporting jaunty, informal blue and white striped matelot T-shirts, the bright young staff look like they've stepped in straight from the Old Port.

It should be pointed out that, while the Golden Tulip can claim to face the sea, in fact the commercial port and a busy multi-lane highway sit between it and the deep blue yonder. So it's not really worth paying a premium for a sea view.

Pictured, the 210 rooms and suites have an attractive blue and gold colour scheme, tulip-shaped lamps and large, comfortable beds, though the dull laminated furniture lets down the look a bit.

marseille golden tulip euromed bedrooomThe sound-proofing, against both traffic from outside and noise from neighbouring rooms, is excellent. None of the rooms have balconies, but six have little private terraces, though these unfortunately overlook the traffic highway.

The smallish bathrooms have walk-in showers for rooms with double beds and baths for those with twins. A handful of rooms are adapted for disabled guests.

Extras include a minimal hot drinks tray and a fridge stocked with two bottles of complimentary mineral water (and nothing else). Somewhat oddly, there's no room service, except during the breakfast period, but you can take up a food tray from the brasserie.

As you would expect, the business centre is very well appointed, with eight modular conference and meeting rooms and all mod cons.

On the second floor are a 12 metre / 40 foot indoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. Here there is also a second bar which opens out on to the hotel's only outdoor terrace.

This space has a few sunbeds but also that same unlovely view onto the traffic highway. Somewhat annoying muzak was playing in these areas when we visited.

The parking is in a nearby public car-park and quite pricey, although apparently the hotel has negotiated a preferential rate - it's even more expensive for non-residents! The hotel service in general is very good, but it does not offer valet parking.

Our overall impression was that Golden Tulip was running on a tight budget. It was missing other features you might expect of a four-star hotel, such as a separate concierge desk. That could make check-in rather slow at busy times.

The restaurant, however, is really outstanding. It serves stylish, high quality, locally inspired cuisine and offers a set menu, available, unusually for France, in the evening as well as at lunch.

The all-in meal we sampled also included home-made dips, a glass of good wine - and a cute tin of foil-wrapped chocolate "sardines" with dessert! It was superb value - and is open to non-residents.

If you just crave a burger or a club sandwich, those are on the menu too. The décor is rather canteen-like (the room seats 160 covers) but the tables are very well-spaced: ideal for business entertaining and groups.

Breakfast (not included in the room rate) is a copious buffet spread, though it's all fairly basic stuff; the food hall in Les Docks right next door has more imaginative choices and would be cheaper.

Visited October 2016.

Where: Golden Tulip Euromed, 6 place Henri Verneuil, 13002 Marseille. Book a room at the Golden Tulip Euromed in Marseille.

Photo credits (from top): © Golden Tulip, SJ for Marvellous Provence, Golden Tulip.

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