While covering the 2021 Cannes Film Festival for Insider, I visited the hotel Le Majestic.
Le Majestic hosts many of the biggest stars and attendees during the two-week festival.
I went inside its €8,129 ($9,600 US) a night suite and spoke to the hotel manager and head chef.
The hotel is situated right on the main road of the Cannes beachfront, just a few seconds walk away from Palais des Festivals, where most screenings and events take place.
It's a grand, imposing building that the bright sun lights up thanks to its clear white paint, catching the eye no matter where you are on the beach.
While the staff run a slick operation, the front of the hotel is usually quite busy, with cars pulling in (ranging from classic Cadillacs to the newest model of Ferrari) to drop and pick up guests, while the public gather in the evenings outside before the big Cannes premiere in hopes of seeing some celebrities.
The lobby of the hotel was full of guests, with a keen ear picking up conversations involving film producers, famous actresses in Turkey, and various crew members all greeting and introducing themselves to one another.
It was a friendly atmosphere, with a mixture of glamour ous people dressed up to beyond the nines and more casual guests in shorts and tees, as befitting the burning hot weather.
General Hotel Manager Charlez Richez told Insider that they get "different clientele during the festival than by the normal period of the year."
"We get a lot of actors, a lot of movie producers. Journalists, editors, models a lot of people working in all the deluxe brands: the fashion, the jewelry, all the high end brands," Richez said. "I would say 80% of clients from the festival and 20% of normal clients."
The decadent space, reminds, however, that this is a prestigious hotel. Hanging lights and decorations and even full-sized statues all help to impress the decadence of Le Majestic.
With people coming in and out as they please, I wondered what the COVID restrictions are, but Richez told me that the only restriction they have capacity wise concerns their newly opened club.
"The only restriction we have now is we have a club that opened July 9th and that is limited to 75% inside. The rest, the hotel, the beach, the restaurants, is fine," Richez said.
They also have a hotel bar, plus three restaurants. Two of them were closed at the time of my visit, while the bar had only a few guests in as most were out and about at various Cannes events.
Head Chef Pierrick Cizeron told Insider that during his work at Le Majestic, he has cooked for many celebrities, something he says makes him "more vigilant" but not nervous.
"We are quite proud sometimes when you cook for people that are known and that's going to be also a source of motivation for teams. But I would not say we cook differently. We do our job," Cizeron said.
Cizeron said that he expected more celebrities to have specific requests and demands, but that that actually rarely happens — although he does still get the odd ask.
"We have one customer who wants a specific mayonnaise for a dish every day. It's not a big deal," Cizeron said.
The halls are decorated with echoes of past Cannes Film Festivals.
These photos showing celebrity guests at past Cannes Film Festivals were a nice touch — eschewing the more traditional hotel art, which can be random filler, for a more purposeful style of decoration.
The hotel staff were proud of its Cannes connection, even if it does mean their working hours are increased greatly.
One staff member told me that while they are usually busy, they work "near enough 24/7" during the Cannes Film Festival as they work around the clock trying to help out their high-profile guests with whatever they need.
There are plenty of spaces around the enormous hotel to sit down and relax, even at the tops of flights of stairs.
Guests and staff members greeted each other in various languages everytime they walked past one another.
Nearly all of Le Majestic's rooms and suites were occupied, but luckily there was one empty for a day or so, so the hotel took me inside a suite in their top price category.
As soon as you step in, the spacious room tells you exactly why its so expensive — a whopping €8,129 ($9,600) per night.
This room's price tag comes because of its size as well as its spectacular view.
There were several rooms in this suite, including a living space, a bedroom, bathrooms, several closets, and a large balcony.
Regarding the protocol around COVID, Richez told Insider that not too much had changed from the thorough cleaning routine before and after guests check out from their rooms.
"We now don't go into the rooms when the clients are in the room, and we have two different [areas] for clean and dirty bedding," Richez said.
"Housekeepers wear a special uniform, while the rooms are sanitized after every guest leaves."
The king-sized bed looked even bigger in person than it does in photos, and while I wasn't allowed to get in, sitting on it told me how comfortable it would be to sleep in it.
The bedroom featured another television and desk, as well as a fair few treats for prospective guests to enjoy, too.
Richez said that they haven't had a COVID case in the hotel this year, but they did have one last year.
"The guest decides if he leaves or not, and then if they stay, we have a protocol where we insulate the guest, we serve them food every day. As soon as he leaves we put the room on quarantine and then after we clean it," Richez said.
Nuts, sweets, chocolates, chips, and other treats were all placed in the suite for guests, while room service is available 24/7.
One staff member told me that it's common for guests staying during the Cannes Film Festival to order room service for their meals as they often didn't have time to actually visit the restaurants to eat as they are too busy going to and from various events.
The bedroom leads directly onto the balcony.
You could hop out of bed and within two steps, you'd be on your balcony enjoying the searing Cannes weather and the pretty spectacular view.
There are sunbeds on offer if you don't fancy sunbathing on the beach or by the pool.
You could also sunbathe on the balcony, which was huge. There was room to walk around and have friends over, while two or three more sunbeds could've fit on the balcony.
The best thing about the suite was the Cannes beachfront view.
Unsurprisingly, it was the view that really made this suite special. With the beach only metres away from Le Majestic, you really got a clear view of the stunning Cannes beach. The palm trees, sand, and crystal clear blue ocean all made for one of the best views I've ever seen from a hotel room.
It was so close, you could feel the breeze of the ocean air, if not quite the spray of the sea.
Directly below this suite was the hotel's swimming pool. Surrounding the pool were more sunbeds, plus the pool bar.
Speaking of the bar, Richez told Insider that due to the "festive" nature of the Cannes Film Festival, the hotel plows through a certain amount of alcohol during the two weeks.
"We go through at least 5,000 bottle of champagne in the two weeks of the festival," Richez said. "It's a big hotel. We have 350 rooms, we have the beach, we have the club, we have lots of restaurants. It's very festive. People tend to enjoy the show."
And the most expensive? That would be Dom Perignon and Cristal, which a bottle of 75 centiliters sells "in the €600 ($708 US) region," according to Richez.
The balcony was a great place to watch guests arriving, too.
Not only could you see the pool, you could also see the front entrance and driveway of the hotel, too. So, if you're something of a people watcher, this would be the perfect place to watch celebrity guests arriving.
The pool was beautiful, but surprisingly almost empty.
The pool looked so good I wanted to jump in fully clothed to cool off.
But I was told that during the festival, it's not unusual for the pool to be surprisingly empty as most guests are too busy with festival events to actually get to enjoy the pool during the day.
Of course, there was a pool bar - open all day and night.
During the evenings, a resident DJ entertains the guests poolside.
Bit better than the evening entertainment at my own hotel — which consisted of my own laptop and Disney+, when I got the chance.
The pool isn't the only thing to do, though... there was also a gym with equipment that could go from indoors to outdoors.
While a lot of hotels have gym, I was surprised at the size of this one. There were plenty of machines and free weights for use, although it was again completely empty.
What's more, the two machines featured in the above photo are positioned on a motorized platform that can move outside so gym goers can exercise in the sun and fresh air.
Sadly, they weren't able to demonstrate this feature for me. But, still, this gym is bigger than my old one in central London.
You could hire a personal trainer for a session, too.
Personal trainers were available for private or group sessions, while exercises like yoga were also on offer, too. There was also this pictured private room, which featured even more equipment including a box bag.
And if you were bored of the gym and pool, there was also a spa and boutique.
Yep, the hotel housed its own branch of the high-end skincare brand Biologique Recherche, with a member of staff at hand to help with all your needs. I was told that a lot of guests choose to use this service.
There were plenty of make-up products on offer.
There were also other brands on offer, too, with plenty of make-up brand available for guests to purchase, including the skincare-infused make-up brand Terry.
The hotel was full of little reminders of just how luxurious it is.
Just a casual Rolex clock on the wall. This was positioned in the gym, but there were more of them sprinkled throughout the hotel.
Le Majestic doesn't shove it's high-class luxury down your throat, but the reminders of just how prestigious this resort is are always there.
The luxury of Le Majestic doesn't just stop at the hotel, however. Across the street, and just a few metres away, was their own property on the beachfront.
It took a while to walk there, however, as police cordon off sections of the main road when red carpet events are happening at the Cannes Film Festival.
So, we had to walk down the road and cross at the sign-posted crossing, then walk back down the beach to the beach house opposite the hotel, all the while navigating packed sidewalks of hotel guests, tourists, locals, and festival-goers.
The beach property houses its own section of the Cannes beach, plus a restaurant.
Le Majestic's beach property isn't restricted to hotel guests only. Instead, it's open to the public, too. So if you can't quite afford the extravagance of a Le Majestic room or suite, you can at least get a taste of the decadence with an afternoon at the beach or eat at their beach-side restaurant.
Head Chef Pierrick Cizeron told Insider that COVID restrictions have had one major impact on his day-to-day work in the kitchen: mask wearing, which can get pretty irritating when cooking in a hot kitchen in the summer weather of Cannes.
"During the summer with the heat, especially with our restaurant with the charcoal oven, it's quite difficult," Cizeron said.
"The difficulty at the beginning was to test the dish we cooked. The first few weeks we realized that we didn't have a test of food anymore. We really had to make the habits to remove the mask and to test and to put it back."
There were plenty of sunbeds available to the public as well as hotel guests.
I was told that most of the guests using sunbeds were hotel guests, as most locals choose to go a bit further down the beach and lie on towels on the sand instead of pay for a sunbed at Le Majestic.
Cizeron said that he noticed a big increase in the usual number of sales per customer once restrictions lifted and people were able to visit the restaurants again.
"20%, 30% more than regular. They were frustrated after all those months. They were getting deserts, they were not looking really at the price. They really wanted to be out to be taken care of," Cizeron said.
"That was for the first month, in June. Now, it's back to normal, but the first month, we really felt that people wanted to get out. They didn't care. They didn't don't look at anything, they wanted just to enjoy."
Le Majestic's beach-front restaurant, BFire, was beautiful.
BFire is also open to the public as well as hotel guests, and I was told it's much more common for the public to pop in for lunch or dinner than to use sunbeds. This restaurant featured an extended platform with tables and chairs set for lunch and dinner, so you could enjoy your food with the sea right next to you.
I was also told that at night, they put tables out on the beach front sand, so guests could have dinner sat on the shore.
I tried one of their most famous dishes: a club sandwich that cost €32 ($38 US).
I visited BFire another day for lunch, to try out their famous club sandwich, which I was told a lot of guests choose to eat as they simply don't have time to eat anything else other than a quick sandwich.
"During the film festival, we have a dedicated team of five people who are doing club sandwiches all along the day, and we have one central production zone for the club sandwich. And then we distribute it around the hotel," Cizeron said.
"We made 275 club sandwiches yesterday. Across the festival, at least 1,500."
Read more about this famous €32 ($38 US) club sandwich that Cizeron called "the winner" here.
Read the original article on Insider