When I first went to Marseille, around 30 years ago, it was a tough-looking city with an even tougher reputation. It certainly wasn’t somewhere tourists were flocking to and it was known as somewhere not to go, rather than somewhere for a fun trip. But, thankfully, all that has changed and while Marseille still has some rough-around-the-edges elements, it’s now an interesting French city with a unique character and some quirkiness. It’s also a university city and student life is apparent if you go out in the evenings or wander around near campus.
There are some great places to stay in Marseille, from spa hotels to budget-friendly stays. Here’s my pick of the best places to stay in Marseille, France.
1. Alex Hotel & Spa
Proudly boasting its status as the only boutique hotel in Marseille, Alex Hotel is a cute little bed and breakfast with its own little spa. There’s a large Jacuzzi pool, sauna, steam room, and treatment room for massages. The roof terrace is a lovely spot for breakfast or to sit with a drink in the evenings and watch Marseille life go by. There’s no restaurant here, but there are restaurants nearby and the staff at the hotel are happy to recommend places to eat. I love how individual this hotel is; it’s a real find.
The hotel is perfectly situated for anyone arriving by train as it’s positioned just a few steps away from the entrance to St. Charles Station. The area still needs some renovation and it does still hold onto a little of its rough past, but it’s a characterful place for a wander around and there’s plenty going on here. It gives you a feeling of local life while also giving you a cute boutique hotel to stay in.
2. Nhow Marseille
Nhow Marseille is a city hotel with a sea view. The décor inside is mostly Art Deco and quite quirky as it jumps from one style to another, and from one era to another, as you walk around. A big plus for Marseille is that there’s an outdoor swimming pool with a gorgeous sea view. The pool is saltwater too, so you feel at one with the sea and don’t get that chlorine smell. There’s a small spa on site with Jacuzzis and an indoor heated pool, but be aware that there is a charge to use this even for guests of the hotel.
Dining And Drinks
The menu is quite short and when, at first glance, you see a Caesar salad on the mains, it might seem like the options are limited. It’s true, some of the dishes are small, but the food is really good and a limited menu isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You definitely need all three courses here and I’d suggest soup to start, the linguine for a main, and the pavlova for dessert. If you want to push the boat out, the wine list is really good with some excellent champagnes. There is also a sky bar with a terrace that has fantastic views and is a lovely spot for a drink after dinner.
3. Staycity Aparthotel
Perfect for anyone who wants an apartment but also likes the amenities and security of a hotel, Staycity Aparthotel is a cross between a self-catering apartment and a hotel. Rooms have their own kitchens so you can cook in your apartment, but there’s also a small café by the reception where you can get a light breakfast and snacks throughout the day. There’s a gym on site and the reception runs 24 hours a day, so there’s always someone on hand if you need them.
You’re in a great central location at this aparthotel, with everything in easy reach. It’s a 10-minute walk to the train station and 10 minutes to walk to the port, so however you arrive in Marseille, you can easily reach the hotel. It takes 20 minutes to walk to the beach from here and 20 minutes to walk to Les Terasses shopping center. But if you don’t want to walk, there are lots of taxis around to take you.
4. Hotel La Residence Du Vieux-Port
At Hotel La Residence du Vieux-Port, you get a room with a view — in almost every room in the hotel — because the rooms all overlook the port and the city beyond. It is an ideal position for sitting out on your balcony with a drink or enjoying a coffee in the morning. Throughout the hotel, the décor is bright and quite quirky, giving it a very modern feel. It’s a great location by the port, and if you want to explore Marseille further, there’s a bus that stops right by the hotel and takes you around town.
Dining And Drinks
Continuing the theme, the onsite restaurant, Le Relais50, also has a striking view. If you sit out on the terrace on a fine day, it’s a beautiful spot to enjoy lunch or dinner. It’s quite pricey, but the food is really good. I skipped the starters and went straight for the main course. I chose the vegetable pesto pasta, which was very good. There’s also a good filet steak on the menu and a list of side salads. For dessert, I chose the cheesecake, which was also really good. They have a “dish of the week” — which was a fish curry when we were there — and it seemed to be offered at a slightly cheaper price than the rest of the menu.
5. Hotel 96
Hotel 96 is a bed and breakfast, so it doesn’t offer dinner, but it has a lot of character and a relaxed tone to it. I think where this small hotel really shines is in its attentiveness to its guests and how everything is done with a lot of thought. It’s a pity they don’t offer dinner as the breakfast is so good; I imagine dinner would be excellent. There’s an outdoor pool, which is only open until 7 p.m., and is surrounded by lovely gardens. It feels semi-rural and has a French farmhouse atmosphere to it. It’s a lovely quiet spot for relaxing.
This one is a little out of the city center, but it’s not far from the hiking trails and beaches of Calanques, so it does give you the option of both if you want to explore a little further from the busy city. You can get to both easily by taxi, or you can walk to the Calanques. It’s in a much quieter location than the city center hotels, so it’s perfect for anyone who wants to visit the city but also someone who likes some peaceful and quiet surroundings.
A bit like a cross between a hotel and a hostel, Meininger is a budget hotel that’s popular with families. You can book a private double room, like a hotel, or you can opt for one of the communal rooms that have single beds and bunk beds in them, like a hostel. It’s a great choice for anyone traveling on a budget or for large families. There’s a big kitchen area, a laundry room, and a game room, and you can buy breakfast on site at a really reasonable price. It’s a hotel if you want it to be, it’s a hostel if that’s what you’re looking for, or it’s both!
Situated 15 minutes away from the old port on foot, the hotel enjoys a good location for exploring the city. It’s central and within easy reach of everything you’d want to see, plus there are plenty of restaurants and bars close by. You need to use your key to enter the building in the evening as the reception isn’t staffed 24 hours a day, but it feels safe and is not a problem.