24 Hour Room Service: Hotel Le Corbusier, Marseilles

HOTELS ARE usually about getting away from it all; this one is more to do with being one of the people. Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation was built between 1945 and 1952, an icon of modern architecture. Here, Le Corbusier tried out his prototype for the problem of mass housing, the "vertical garden city". The hotel opened in 1960 with 25 rooms amid the apartments on the third and fourth floors.

It's not a place to leave you feeling indifferent. In fact it doesn't feel much like staying in a hotel at all, what with the international clientele of architects and the middle classes playing at living in high- rises, diluted by a football fan or two (the Stade Velodrome, home to Olympic Marseille FC, is only a few minutes' walk away).

The 340 flats were the concrete realisation of Le Corbusier's concept of hygienic, affordable living with the requisite light, air, silence and sociability. Each module was intended to work like a fully autonomous house with double-height living-room, children's and parents' bedrooms, and a fully fitted and equipped kitchen. A 137m-long, reinforced concrete block, the city within a city came complete with supermarket, baker, primary school and gym.

The more you explore, the more impressive the details you discover - a stack of figures embossed in the concrete facade, a long concrete bench dotted with coloured enamel blobs, the terrace up on the roof with its funnel-like ventilation shaft, gym and seating booths.

And, far from the usual Modernist white, colour was integral to Le Corbusier's concept - each balcony has a coloured panel and most of the apartment doors are still painted in their intended shades of red, blue, yellow, green or orange.

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

Hotel Le Corbusier is at 280 boulevard Michelet in the east of Marseilles (tel: 0033 4 91 16 78 00; fax: 0033 4 91 16 78 28).

TRANSPORT

Plenty of parking if you come by car, the best solution if you want to explore the surrounding area (Cassis, Aix-en-Provence, and so on) as well as the city. Otherwise, regular buses run to the Vieux Port and the town centre or down to the Corniche.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

Bedrooms are spacious and well soundproofed - unusual for a two-star hotel - and come with tables and masses of hanging space (built-in wardrobes are another Corb characteristic). Furnishings are functional but high quality: a huge wooden door, marble bathroom floor, a wood-panelled wall and beautifully slippery parquet. Blankets though are showing their age, not all the light switches work and the bathroom lights have that nasty insect problem. The view is amazing; one wall is almost entirely window, looking out over surrounding houses, a lighthouse and the sea beyond.

There's a bar and restaurant and, if the food is closer to office canteen than haute cuisine (three courses including steak-frites or plat du jour for FFr60 or FFr80 - pounds 6 or pounds 8 respectively), the dining-room is a masterful play of space with double-height window, balcony and mezzanine reached by spiral staircase. Service is amiable if minimal and once you have your room key, you can come and go like a resident of the flats.

STAYING IN TOUCH

Telephone and French TV in bedroom, Le Corbusier postcards available at reception.

THE BOTTOM LINE

No frills perhaps, but you'll rarely stay in a historic monument as affordable as this one. Singles cost FFr195 (pounds 20), doubles FFr285 (pounds 30). Breakfast in the restaurant costs FFr35 (pounds 3.50).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

    Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

    Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

    £10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

    £17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable