Bedroom, Hotel le Richelieu, MarseilleThere are very few hotels right on the seafront in Marseille, but the funky, friendly, rough and ready Richelieu is one. It sits in a prime position, with sensational views of the beach and the Château d'If and Frioul Islands. logoClick here to book a hotel in Marseille

News for the Hotel Richelieu in MarseilleThe Hotel le Richelieu has been completely refurbished as a four-star luxury hotel under the name Les Bords de Mer, opening in late autumn 2018. It sounds very different from its previous incarnation, with a heated swimming pool on the roof, 20 rooms, all with sea views, a spa and fitness room and an upscale restaurant.

We'll be re-reviewing it shortly; meanwhile here is a report on our visit to the original Richelieu. A 10-15 minutes walk from the Old Port, it's on the Corniche JF Kennedy, the busy thoroughfare that runs south out of the city along the coast.

But most other hotels on this strip (or the Old Port itself, come to that) are separated from the waterfront by noisy roads. The Richelieu is on the coast side of the Corniche - les pieds dans l'eau (its feet in the water), as the French expression puts it.

You must make sure you secure a room facing the sea to enjoy the hotel at its best, as much as for the quietness for the view (it should be relatively easy, since only two of the rooms look over the road).

The Richelieu is decorated in primary colours and liberally adorned with the work of local artist Cristel M, whose paintings are certainly bright even if some might find them an acquired taste. It has the informal atmosphere of a backpackers' hostel, although the bedrooms are private, and not dormitories.

Breakfast terrace at the Hotel le Richelieu, MarseilleThe hotel was refurbished in the winter of 2010-2011, reducing the number of rooms from 21 to 15. As a result, the "cupboard-bathrooms" that used to be in some bedrooms have been expanded and prices have increased slightly (though they're still amazing for this location).

However, the rooms remain on the small side, and are basic and cheerful; don't expect designer furnishings. Most have balconies or terraces and there's a dining room and terrace overlooking the beach where breakfast (charged extra) is served until a lazy 11.30am.

There's no lift (elevator) but you will find the usual free wi-fi and limited hotel parking, at an extra charge (book it ahead).

Note when putting down a deposit on a room in advance that there is a hefty fee in case of cancellation.

The Richelieu overlooks the Plage des Catalans, a hugely popular public beach. There are bars around and a disco across the road.

The hotel has also secured the concession to run the privatised area of the Catalans beach, where you can bask on a sunbed and order up drinks and light meals.

As well as being a short walk from the action on the Old Port, the Richelieu is also near the Parc du Pharo and a bus-ride from the other beaches south of Marseille.

If you want to blow the money you've saved by staying here on a meal, bus 83 will take you along the Corniche to posh, Michelin-starred restaurants such as Le petit Nice or L'Epuisette, in the delightful Vallon des Auffes.

Visited January 2011

Where: 52 Corniche Kennedy, 13007 Marseile.

How to get there: Bus 83 from the Old Port.


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