Our series on the Riviera’s Luxury Hotels now moves further down the coast, towards the Bay of Cannes. Discover the Hôtel Le Martinez, an Art Deco establishment whose story is forever linked with that of the Cannes Film Festival.

You can’t miss Le Martinez on Cannes’ Croisette: on a sunny day, the white facade blinds you like the nearby sea. Built between 1927 and 1929, the seven-story building with pillared blue balconies owes its fame largely to the Cannes Film Festival. “Today you would call it glitzy, but it really was the hotel of stars and royalty. That is our heritage. Now more than ever, clients want to walk in the footsteps of the beau monde,” says Yann Gillet, the Hotel’s General Manager since July 2019.

The 90s: Le Martinez’ golden decade

Le Martinez rose to fame at more or less the same time as the Cannes Film Festival became the darling of the film industry. Yann Gillet explains that the 90s were crucial: “The festival got a lot of media coverage, which also put Le Martinez in the spotlight.” As Hotel Manager, Yann Gillet is the guardian of Le Martinez’ history, and of its anecdotes. There is the guest who proposed to his fiancée, wanting to marry her the very next day; the story about how a watch sold only in Paris’ Place Vendôme had to be brought to the Croisette on very short notice; and the man who flew in from Switzerland because he wanted to sleep in suite 320, the room where he was born, when his father, a Maharaja, occupied two of the building’s stories.

A bumpy year

“The Cannes Film Festival is ten days of dreams of glamour, of fun, of champagne.  And while it has played a crucial role in Le Martinez’ fame, the hotel’s story is so much more than just the festival. We also owe our history to our clients. Le Martinez should not feel like a hotel. The rooms are bright and painted by hand, our guests have an exclusive view on Cannes’ bay…We’ve taken refinement to the extreme. Of course, there’s also the Art Deco façade and our exceptional location, right in the middle of the Croisette,” explains the General Manager.

Like the rest of the hotel industry, Le Martinez was not spared by the Covid-19 earthquake. The Cannes Film Festival was canceled due to the pandemic, as were other major events and conferences, such as the Cannes Yacht Show. In light of the situation, Le Martinez has decided to shut its doors during the week – groups excepted – and will be open to individual clients at weekends. However, Yann Gillet remains positive: “As soon as clients can travel again, we will reopen,” he says.  

Soon to be a Palace Hotel

Le Martinez aims to become the eight Palace Hotel of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region. The five-star hotel is currently in the process of applying for the label. Meanwhile, the hotel’s month-long renovation works are almost at their end. “We’ve concentrated on six suites which, named after figures of the film industry, are inspired by those who have shaped the history of the festival and of the hotel. We’ve also renovated the swimming pool, the spa, the garden, and our lighting,” says Yann Gillet. A grand  total of 150 million euros, all to write a new page of the hotel’s history. 

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@Yann Gillet, General Manager of the Hotel le Martinez