Hotel Review: The Hotel Maison Saint Louis, Marseille

Standard doubles begin at 116 euros, or about $131.

The Hotel Maison Saint Louis is the second hotel from the Marseille hotelier Loïc Fauchille, who formerly worked for Groupe Accor, the large French hotel company. With tourism growing rapidly in Marseille, Mr. Fauchille saw a market for affordable lodgings with a dose of local character in the heart of the city, beyond what’s available from international hotel chains. The Maison Saint Louis is simple but offers comfortable accommodations for people who might prefer to spend their travel budget on restaurants and museums. Since this demographic includes friends traveling together and families, the Maison Saint Louis offers an innovative variety of room types, including a “Familiale 3,” a “Familiale 4” and a “Familiale 6.”

Just off La Canebière, Marseille’s Broadway, the Hotel Maison Saint Louis is a five-minute walk from Le Vieux Port and is very well-served by the R.T.M., Marseille’s transit system, with a trolley station just out the door in the Cours Saint Louis and a Metro station and buses up the block. Next door to the hotel, Maison Empereur, founded in 1827 and France’s oldest hardware store, has been in the same family for six generations and spans three shops that offer a trove of traditional hard-to-find mostly French-made housewares, hardware and accessories. The hotel is also located just at the beginning of the lively rue d’Aubagne, which is lined with restaurants, bars, cafes, African hairdressers, Lebanese bakeries and shops selling North African spices and groceries — the Noailles quarter is locally known as the ‘ventre’ (belly) of Marseille.

The small reception desk is next to the diminutive lobby — the Maison Saint Louis’s main public space is its adjacent bar-restaurant. My room, with an upgrade to a “Supérieur” (I’d booked a Classique), was ready when I arrived at 11.30 a.m., well before the 3 p.m. check-in time. At first glance, these digs were immaculate but plain, furnished with just a comfortable double bed with a white duvet, a chrome luggage rack, and a shelf with an electric kettle, tea bags and instant coffee. The floor was covered with light gray vinyl-finished canvas, but high ceilings and white-painted walls with framed black-and-white vintage photos of Marseille made the room feel spacious, and two French doors with willow-green curtains led out to a long balcony with a pretty 19th century wrought-iron railing that offered fine views of the street and the Cours Saint Louis below. There were cone-shaped black-metal wall-mounted reading lamps on either side of the bed and a full-length mirror on one wall under a wall-mounted ceramic appliqué lamp. There was no minibar and an open closet offered a few hangers for clothing and a space large enough to store a large suitcase. Since photos of “Superieure” rooms on the hotel’s website showed a small table with two chairs, I double-checked on my room category when I went out. The receptionist was surprised by the absent furniture and offered to move me to a different room, which I declined, because I was in a hurry to meet a friend for lunch.

Small, with a colorful tile backsplash above a small half-moon shaped white ceramic basin, curved stall shower with more colorful tiles, wall-mounted Yves Rocher olive shower gel-shampoo, a hair dryer and adequate lighting.

Le Petit Saint Louis, the hotel’s bar-restaurant, occupies most of the ground floor, and weather permitting, there’s also service at sidewalk cafe tables and on a terrace with umbrellas across the street. The prix-fixe breakfast includes orange juice, coffee or tea, croissants and pains aux raisins, fromage blanc, fruit salad, butter and jam, plus a small buffet of cheese, charcuterie, salad and savory cakes. Lunch is offered from noon to 3 p.m. and runs to simple dishes like moules marinières with fries (13 euros); steak tartare (15 euros) and Croque Monsieur (10 euros). Tapas are served from 6 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Service is prompt and friendly. La Mercerie, one of the best modern bistros in Marseille, is just across the street (book in advance), and the very popular Epicerie L’Idéal, a gourmet grocery cum restaurant, is just a few doors up the street from the hotel and serves sandwiches, salads and daily specials liked lamb slow-roasted in pomegranate molasses.

Free Wi-Fi, and a computer for guest use in the lobby.

With an excellent location, reasonable room rates and friendly staff, the Hotel Maison Saint Louis is a pleasant comfortable plain-vanilla hotel for people who prefer hotels to Airbnb rentals, and value-conscious travelers who want a cheerful no-frills base from which to explore Marseille.

Hotel Maison Saint Louis, 2 rue des Recolettes;

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