Hotel insider The hotels along La Croisette all boast film star glamour, but none is as stylish the Martinez.
Hotel Martinez, Cannes, France
Ah, Cannes! Poodles, Prada and the unmistakable scent of old money. Everything you wear, drive and do in Cannes is a statement. Where you stay is just as important. Old hands favour the Carlton, the über-rich hire a yacht (or bring their own), while the truly stylish head for the Martinez. Once they have found a parking spot for the Bentley Continental - no mean feat in the tight entrance car park under the art deco hotel sign - a team of smartly suited staff will magic away luggage and chaperone them through the lobby.
Slap bang on the impossibly glamorous waterfront known as La Croisette. This sweep of promenade has been home to the rich and fabulous for decades. Walnut-tanned people stroll arm-in-arm in their white cotton trousers, popping into Van Cleef and Arpels on a whim and leaving a vapour trail of expensive perfume and jealousy lingering behind them. If they are not strolling, they are cruising under the palm trees in their Ferraris, unable to get out of first gear.
A little aloof for my taste. I never want subservience but I would like hotels to recognise that non-famous and non-millionaire guests also have the right to good service. The staff I met were at least friendly and personable, and apart from a forgotten caffe latte and two chambermaids arguing in the corridor early one morning, everything ran smoothly.
Mine was blue. Everything was blue. The bedspread, the carpet and the walls, which gave it a rather sombre feel until I flung back the curtains and threw open the windows and the brilliant light that gave the Cote d'Azur its name flooded in, bringing the room to life. The room was also an art deco wonder, in keeping with the hotel's design theme.
Few things are as vexing as seeing everyone else zipping around in their sports cars while you - because you caught the TGV from Paris - are left without wheels and at the mercy of generally rather uppity Cannes taxi drivers. Be kind to the Martinez concierge and voila, a sports car is yours for the day. Once you have cleared the city limits, the Estérel Mountains await, full of curly roads that are perfect for putting the motor through its paces.
Cannes very probably invented the concept of "scene". If the Martinez had been around when Cannes was becoming fabulous, then it would have been Scene Central. It has made up for lost time by becoming the place to be on La Croisette. This is never more apparent than each May when the film festival hits town. Hollywood's classier crowd picks the Martinez - Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, to name but four. Good luck if you have your heart set on the Presidential Suite. A Russian princess fell in love with it a few years ago and books it for weeks on end each year.
Breakfast á deux in my room with one of the most romantic backdrops in the world - the Mediterranean glittering away boastfully just beyond the beach, La Plage de la Croisette.
The clichéd beach club called Zplage. I know this is Cannes, where showing off is an art form, but DJs, open shirts and medallions are so 1985. Too much testosterone and not enough beach loungers.
All Croisette hotels have film star glamour but none is as stylish as the Martinez. Go for broke and stay and pay extra for a Mediterranean view. It's worth it. Hotel Martinez, 73, La Croisette, 06400 Cannes, France, Tel: +33 (0) 492 98 73 00, @email:www.cityclubhotel.com, @email:www.hotel-martinez.com.