Hotel Le Corbusier

Marseille Hood: South Marseille Genre: Architecture Price: $

In retrospect Le Corbusier’s high-rise utopian experiments appear both frightening and quaintly naive. Poor imitations of this modernist style of housing development have been much maligned pretty much everywhere, but here in Marseille visitors can experience the ‘machine for living’ as it was intended in one of the world’s most unique hotels.

Using a simple combination of elements and materials: space, air, light and concrete, Le Corbusier created a truly special atmosphere – why can’t they all be like this? While Le Corbusier hotel at La Cite Radieuse (Radiant City) is located further from the waterfront (and restaurant action) than most of the city’s accommodation options, for architecture buffs this is THE place to stay in Marseille.

The Hotel

Designed as a middle-class housing development  La Cité Radieuse (Radiant City) houses around 1500 residents and features a shopping level (now reduced to a single bakery), hotel, kindergarten, church and outer-worldly roof top garden with wading pool.

Compared with contemporary hotels amenities at Hotel Le Corbusier may appear basic: 800 thread-count Egyptian linens, flat screen TVs and attentive staff are conspicuous by their absence.  But who cares when your room has a Picasso on the wall and a Le Corbusier chaise longue (LC04) for napping?

Any minor gripes pale into insignificance – this is your chance to sleep with a design icon. (Personally, we prefer our 60 year olds to have with a few wrinkles over botox anyday! It’s called ‘patina’, right?)

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Le corbusier radiant city rooftop - Hotels We Love
wading pool & distant hills on the rooftop of Le Corbusier's Radiant City. (Photo © HWL)
Le Corbusier hotel Marseille, room 20 drawing - Hotels We Love
Room 20, Le Corbusier Hotel, Marseille. (Photo © HWL)

What We Love

If you do stay here make sure you take a tour of one of the apartments; some residents open their homes for visitors in exchange for a small fee. The one we visited had Prouve and Perriand 50’s furniture alongside all the original Le Corbusier features. It’s amazing how cool and functional the flats were, and still are.

You could go all the way and actually stay in one of the apartments/Machines for living  – as a couple of them are regularly available for rent through Airbnb. For example check the availability of the 120 euros duplex or the 90 euros duplex, both look nicely decorated.

If you don’t stay at Radiant City, at least pop in for an apero on the terrace or dinner at the restaurant, Le Ventre de l’Architecte.

And check out Ora-Ito’s newly opened art gallery, MAMO, established in the old gym on the Cite’s rooftop, which the young French designer carefully renovated following Le Corbusier’s original plans. The gallery is opened from 11am to 6pm Wed-Sunday, the roster of contemporary art exhibitions looks promising and the view is  stunning.

Another advantage of staying here is its proximity to the calanques, a cab ride to the entry of the national park will cost about €20.  Public buses and the metro system yes will take you into the city but factor in taxi fares to get you home after a night out.

collage La Cite Radieuse Le Corbusier Marseille - Hotels We Love
Architectural details @ Hotel Le Corbusier. (Photo © HWL)

Tips

In keeping with the design ethos, rates are reasonable and rooms accommodate a wide variety of needs and budgets.  Our tip is to book a room with a sea view not too close to the restaurant – unless want to be woken by early breakfasters on the terrace.

Are you a Le Corbusier tragic? Check out the review of our visit to Le Corb’s Weekender: Villa Savoye, near Paris.

Price range

€65–€125

Contacts

280 Boulevard Michelet
13008 Marseille
France
+33 4 91 16 78 00

Lullaby

Not a lullaby this time, but a little film we made about our experience  at the Madman’s House… where everything is not as it seems… [Apologies for the non-perfect sound, optimists that we are, we thought we could get away with not using a mike!]