The Vertigo Vieux Port is a sister-hotel to the prize-winning Vertigo Centre and is based on the same simple concept: a hostel without hassle, offering very cheap, basic accommodation with a chilled-out atmosphere and 24-hour opening.
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Set in two former naval warehouses connected by a small courtyard, the beautifully restored Vertigo Vieux Port (Old Port) preserves a number of original features such as high ceilings, exposed beams, brickwork arches and terracotta tiled floors.
In contrast to the flea-market vintage decor of Vertigo Centre, the furnishings are modern, with brightly coloured pieces by local artists on the walls.
There are public areas with wi-fi and computers and a large shared kitchen (pictured: part of the sitting room and kitchen).
One thoughtful touch is to have bottles of wine and other drinks and ready-made meals for sale for travellers arriving too late to go out for dinner. A generous breakfast is included.
One significant difference from Vertigo Centre is that there are few facilities for couples. The majority of the hostel's 25 rooms have between three and six beds, mostly bunks (each bedroom has its own bathroom/WC and a locker for every visitor). There are only three rooms for two people, much in demand and snapped up early.
Vertigo Vieux Port is found on a steep side-street rising at right angles from the Old Port towards Notre Dame de la Garde.
The location is very central. You're near the beaches of Marseille and within walking distance of almost all the major sites as well as a plethora of restaurants and late-night bars and clubs.
Possibly within earshot too. Moreover, the street it's on is very busy (though the rooms don't look out on to it), so noise might be an issue for light sleepers.
None of the rooms actually has a view of the port - but the rock-bottom room rates are ample compensation.
Visited March 2011
Where: 38 rue Fort Notre Dame, 13007 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 54 42 95. Book a room at the Vertigo Vieux Port
Vertigo Centre is at 42 rue des petites Maries, 13001 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 91 07 11.