Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cannes Do Glam

I have arrived in Cannes to work on Born to Shop Provence Plus (which includes Provence, the French Riviera, Barcelona, Geneva and maybe Morocco) and get an advance peek at what's new and what's been happening since I was here last year, during the Festival International du Film ...called FIF here.

So far, the two knock-outs have both been hotels -- one of which I just visited by way of the lobby. (Keep reading, I'll tell you everything.)

The other, Hotel Palais Stephanie, is where I am staying -- the newest luxury hotel in Cannes (50 La Croisette; and one of the biggest renovation stories in France after sixty million dollars was poured into a older and very eighties OTT hotel (the Noga Hilton) and made into this new, luxury palace with a 5-star rating and a special homage to the stars of past Film Festivals. It's the only modern, glam, hot and trendy palace in town; promising to set the Hollywood crowd on their tiaras in mid-May.

Located directly on La Croisette, overlooking the sea, the Palais Stephanie's rooms are uphosltered in cognac Italian leather with zillions of sleek options and technological details. Regular rooms have coppery mosaic tiles and tubs ...while my room, a suite (hey, it's out of season -- I got upgraded) has a Philippe Starck tub set into an alcove overlooking the sea... and more sparkly copper shimmery tiles.

Each bathroom has a separate glass wall Italian shower (read-- no door!) as well as a dual flush toilet, to save water. The hotel has also chosen to give up bidets in order to save water, so only the important and very grand suites have them (my suite is sans-bidet).

I am left to wash my underwear in the sink. Oh yes, I wash my underwear with the most chic bathroom amenities I have ever seen-- provided by the Swiss jewelry/ watch company Chopard, which is obviously going after the Bulgari bathroom business.I have never before seen Chopard hotel amenities, so I am one of the happy few who can bathe with azure blue glycerin soap.

The lobby has a giant atrium, filled with a golden Palme d'Or leaf branch, a larger than life version of the award given away here at FIF. There's also a restaurant with terrace, La Scena, that serves a mixture of Italian, French and Japanese food -- again, overlooking the sea...and all the street action. Does anyone need more than a view to the sea, a blue sky and a pizza?

You can get a full lunch or dinner at a fixed price of 25 euros, which is very low for Cannes and for all of France. I went for the 3-course lunch (30 euros) and had a crab-avocado salad, grilled fish over truffled risotto and a grand marnier souffle. Ohlala! Then I walked around town before falling into my bed.

Behind all beds, and in most public spaces, there are vintage black & white photos of stars at previous Film Festivals. I am in residence with Gina Lollabridgida. Brigette Bardot is just down the hall from me.

Yet there's more to oogle in Cannes.

Around the corner from this hotel, there's the new 3-14 Hotel, 5 rue Francois Einesy. It's set back one block from the sea, but is a must-do stare at me hotel because of the drama of the tiny lobby. It is small and very unusual, so this is not your basic Hollywood glam spot; I couldn't stop giggling as I stared at the lobby.

The hotel has purple carpet out front (who needs red, even in Cannes?) and inside has two contemporary art sculptures, one of a life sized turquoise cow with a gnome on top; the other, a turquoise Venetian glass fountain with glass birds and a gnome on top. You will be looking for Amelie toutes des suites. The rest of the lobby is upholstered in turquoise plush. You will never see the likes of this kind of kitsch in your life.

From the brochure, the rooms look quite normal. No Brigette Bardot anywhere. So please stop by the lobby before you return to the surreal world of the rest of Cannes.

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