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  • Erin Tallman

Ancient Hospital Becomes Five-Star Hotel in Marseille

Old Port in Marseille

In line with the boats, both large and small, docked in the Old Port are rows of blue lights offering a variation of the sea below. I’m sipping on a cafe au lait at Le Bar de la Marine on the Quai de Rive Neuve. My gaze follows the line of little blue spots, runs across the port and remains fixed on an illuminating palace: Hotel Dieu.

Old Harbor (Vieux-Port), Marseille, France, with Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in background in 1890-1900. Photo courtesy of Commons Wikimedia

Flanked by two wings on four levels, the luminous facade with military symmetry highlights a history dating back to 1188. The structure began its venture as the city’s Saint-Esprit hospital for the care of the sick and abandoned children and transformed into the Hotel-Dieu hospital in 1593. After undergoing an extension and several changes, the hospital closed its doors in 2006 and, with much success, was given a new purpose as Marseille’s most brilliant five-star hotel.

A True Paradise

Intercontinental Hotel Dieu

The Hotel Dieu, now majestically transformed into a luxurious hotel by the Intercontinental Hotel Group. Photo Courtesy of IHG

A set of majestic stairways leads guests to the entrance of the exquisite InterContinental Hotel-Dieu. The total historical surface of 23,200m2 has been transformed into 194 rooms and suites, a conference center, a spa, private terraces with 5,000m2 of new buildings, all while keeping the original architecture intact. The architectural design was entrusted to the Anthony Bechu Agency and to Tangram Architects, while the interior design was assigned to the group composed of the Nuel Agency, Tangram Architects and Volume ABC. It’s the second hotel reconstruction project to receive the NF Service Industry Buildings - HQE Procedure certification.

The bar and restaurants, no reservations required, are accessible to all. Exhibitions highlighting cultural heritage and an ancient Roman mosaic, a 12th century chapel donation, are on display at the hotel.

Memories of what the hotel once was remains fresh in the minds of Marseille-based medical professionals, who recall having interned at the hospital as young students or having begun their career there. Several of those professionals evolved parallel to the hospital as it underwent its many changes.

The chic and luxuriously designed bar at the Alcyone Resturant in the Intercontinental Hotel Dieu. Photo courtesy of IHG

Now a grandiose, elegant, bright structure, the palace houses 172 Rooms and 22 Suites with prices up to $6,600 for the Presidential Suite. In addition, the hotel hosts two restaurants: "Les Fenêtres Brasserie" and "Alcyone Restaurant", the latter of which is one of four restaurants in Marseille to hold at least one Michelin Star.

Poetic Rain - Lingering Thoughts After My Stay

The noise of chatter at Le Bar de la Marine freezes in time as my thoughts turn to my five-night stay at the InterContinental Hotel Dieu.

The room, not oversized to make one feel a bit lonely, but large enough for true comfort, was equipped with a cozy bed and one of the most amazingly fluffy pillows and comforter I’ve ever had the pleasure of rolling around on. Our window offered incredible views of the Old Port, grown livelier and more beautiful since its reconstruction in 2013 for Marseille as Capitale de l’Europe.

The hotel’s exquisite 750m2 terrace, seating 160 people comfortably, became the perfect haven for a warm fall afternoon. As a heavy rain fell, the sheltered seating area offered me the possibility to set up an easel and get to painting---with a glass of red from Bourgogne, pleasantly served at "Les Fenêtres Brasserie." Poetic under the rain, snug on the covered side of the stone columns, this magical moment made my stay even more incredible.

Both restaurants are equally well-deserving of the description “luxurious and fine dining.” Not a dish was served that couldn’t be defined as simply divine. The taste as well as the presentation are enough to entice guests from within and outside the city, so we see the restaurant area peppered with les gourmands.

The Luxe By CTW highly recommends a stay at the Intercontinental Hotel Dieu in Marseille, France. Plan you visit and book on their website.

Looking for a new destination to go to in Europe this summer 2017? Check out Hotel Ranga in Iceland!

Photos courtesy of IHG and Commons Wikimedia

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