This was our first time in Marseille, and after a complicated journey from the main train station, we arrived at the Pullman Hotel, Palm Beach.
The Pullman has a huge open plan reception, full of natural light and giving breathtaking views over the Marina and sea. Staff were very attentive and knowledgeable, making special effort to ensure our rooms were available even though we arrived three hours before check-in time.
After checking in, we were shown our rooms and told about a discount scheme where you can upgrade your rooms for an extra €25 per room, per night. Even though the rooms were lovely and spacious with fantastic views over the Mediterranean Sea, we opted for the upgrade.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that our two rooms were adjoined using a private ‘walkway’, which only we could access.
Our deluxe rooms were nice and spacious, with modern bathrooms, good-sized balconies (including safety bars for toddlers) and a good sized minibar which we used as a fridge for yoghurts, milk and general snacks.
Before we talk about the hotel’s many excellent facilities, I need to mention the beds.
The King Size double beds at the Pullman were the most comfortable, sleep-inducing and downright cosiest beds we’ve ever slept in. The duvets and pillows etc were superb and we really slept like babies; as did they.
The Pullman has an unusual layout, in that the reception is on the top floor. The rooms are on the two floors below because the hotel is situated on a hill. Each floor is served by not only a lift, but stairs and gradient ramps for wheelchairs or pushchairs. Probably the best access situation we saw during this trip.
Next to reception, we found a very equipped business centre with Wifi, LAN connections, PC terminals, printing facilities and a small reference library. Our eldest two children spent some time revising for their forthcoming GCSE’s and were made to feel very welcome by the staff in there.
Internet connectivity at the Pullman was the best we’ve experienced in France. Two Wifi options are offered; the first is free and seems to be capped at 2MB in terms of download speed, with a second paid (€9.99 per 24 hours) option giving around 10MB download speed and able to cope with Skype, iPlayer and Netflix etc. We used the second option and were able to get everything done without any hassle at all.
Having said this, the kids were able to connect to iPlayer and Netflix on their iPad’s using the free option, so you may well not need to pay for Wifi whilst here.
The hotel has an unheated outdoor pool, but may be a little too deep for children who aren’t strong swimmers. Our 12 year old (who is a very confident swimmer) was fine but our 7 year old (who is still learning) was unable to swim in there at all, instead opting to doggie paddle near the ladder. Luckily, the hotel was quiet so no-one minded.
The hotel also benefits from a well-equipped Gym; offering a jacuzzi, a good array of cardio machines, some free weights and yoga mats etc. It was well ventilated and a good-size, with beautiful views over the marina and sea.
The hotel has one restaurant, serving breakfast from 7am to 10am each morning, then dishes via the bar during the day, before opening for seated service at 7pm each night.
Breakfast was a good spread, offering Full English/Classic American buffet style, Continental as well as a range of cereals, fruit and nuts. The hot dishes were replaced every 15 minutes or so ensuring guests have a choice of fresh dishes each time. We found that the children weren’t hungry until around 4 or 5 as long as they stocked up on the fresh fruit, bread, ham, cheese and yoghurts at this point; which meant we saved on lunch too.
The Pullman offers breakfast included in some room rates, so it’s worth bearing this in mind at time of booking.
We found the food in the restaurant to be excellent, catering to most tastes. We had the Steak (let the Waiter know if you want it well-done, as the chances are it will arrive still breathing if you don’t!) and my Wife had the Risotto. Both were excellent, served with fresh vegetables and fairly priced.
The children’s menu in particular was excellent. For €15 the kids were offered a starter, which included fresh Quiché Lorraine, Soup of the Day or Bruschetta, Steak (actual real Steak, not a burger), or Chicken served with fresh vegetables for their main and a range of desserts including Ice Cream, Chocolate Brownie or Sorbet in a range of flavours.
The children’s menu at the Pullman Marseille offers exceptional value for money, as each dish was cooked to a very high standard using morning-fresh ingredients served in generous portions.
After our meal, were told by the waiter that they also offer Chicken Nuggets and Chips etc for parents who prefer to stick to more ‘traditional’ children’s menu’s. We were glad they didn’t mention this at the beginning as our children agreed it was the nicest meal they’d had during the trip.
The hotel is surrounded by beautiful beaches, has a large supermarket close by (check Google maps) and several restaurants and brasseries within walking distance.
Directly outside the hotel is a bus stop, with buses taking you back into the centre of Marseille running every 15 minutes and costing around €2 per person.
Unless you absolutely have to, avoid getting taxi’s in France. Supplements are commonplace and driver’s are more than happy to add anything up to €12 to the final fare, claiming this to be normal. They will usually charge extra for pushchairs and luggage too, so be aware of this. We had several bad experiences not only in Marseille, but also Paris and Montpellier so this is something to bare in mind. Public transport is usually the way to go.
The Pullman Marseille is an excellent hotel for families, with very helpful staff and set in beautiful surroundings. It was safe and offered good value for money. It also offered excellent business facilities for those times when you need to catch up with work/get a break from the kids.
At time of writing, you can book a Classic room with a spare bed for up to one child per room for £157. For more information visit http://www.pullmanhotels.com and look for Pullman Marseille Palm Beach.