This is our review of Carlton Cannes, A Regent Hotel.
Long term readers will know that I don’t accept many hotel review trips – the last one was Andaz Prague in December 2022. I obviously review other hotels but those are generally places I visit with my family (and pay for) or where I am staying as part of a conference or flight review.
I made an exception for Carlton Cannes, however. Not only is it one of the most high profile hotel openings of 2023, but I had never visited a Regent before. I had also stayed at the Carlton just over a decade ago, when it was well into its decline as an InterContinental, and wanted to see what ‘a few hundred million Euro’ had done to the place.
A lot, is the answer. Do go.
The photo above is taken from the hotel’s beach club.
A quick word about Regent Hotels & Resorts
IHG acquired Regent Hotels & Resorts in 2018, see here, paying just $39m for an initial 51%.
Whilst the brand has been around for a long time, it had only six hotels at that point. Whilst high end they were not ultra-luxurious. The only European hotels were in Berlin, where it had taken over the Four Seasons, and Montenegro.
Whilst the Regent Seven Seas cruise line shares the same logo as Regent Hotels & Resorts, there is no longer any connection between the two.
IHG’s first move was to announce that InterContinental Hong Kong would reopen as a Regent after refurbishment, which it did this summer. This was a nod to the history of that property, which originally opened as a Regent before joining IHG.
IHG seems keen to position Regent above InterContinental. I suspect that InterContinental Amstel in Amsterdam (same Qatari ownership) may also swap brands when it is refurbished, and InterContinental Paris Le Grand would seem another obvious target. The snag with this strategy is that if you strip away its best properties, the overall InterContinental brand weakens.
From a loyalty point of view, you can earn and spend IHG One Rewards points at Regent as with any other IHG brand. Regent is NOT part of InterContinental Ambassador which means that Ambassador is diminished every time a top InterContinental hotel is rebranded.
The history of Carlton Cannes
The Carlton is the most famous hotel in Cannes, sitting directly in the middle of La Croisette, the beachside promenade. Opened in 1911, and extended to its current frontage in 1913, it has been part of IHG in its various guises since the 1960s.
The freehold was sold in 2006 and is now owned by an arm of the government of Qatar. There were press articles announcing an imminent refurbishment as far back as 2012, but work finally got underway in September 2020. The hotel reopened in March 2023.
Major changes have been made. Additional wings have been added to both sides of the hotel, containing long term ‘residences’ (apparently these may be sold off at some point, retaining access to the hotel facilities). An impressive spa and conference centre was included in the new wings.
The new additions – which are designed to minic the design of the original building – have fully enclosed the space which used to be a car park behind the hotel. This has been transformed into a garden and an outdoor infinity pool.
Arrival at Carlton Cannes
Getting to Cannes from Nice Airport is a bit fiddly. The easiest public transport option is the train, which involves wandering through the airport car park and beyond to the nearest suburban stop. I recommend having the hotel pick you up, or taking a taxi. The drive is around 30 minutes in decent traffic.
As I walked into the huge lobby I got a jolt of recognition from my previous visit, but everything was just ….. lovelier. The old layout has been retained except that reception has been pushed back into a new area overlooking the garden, keeping people out of the main lobby area.
Everything looks new, except it’s not. The hotel was keen to show me frescos and other bits of decoration which had been hidden for years and had appeared during the renovation – see the picture above as an example. It will never have looked this good, even on the day it opened in its current form back in 1913.
The dominant theme is white or light. With the Mediterranean just across the road, the designers seem to have decided not to compete with bright colours. It’s going to cost a lot of money to keep everything looking this white, but hopefully the hotel can manage it.
The hotel had given me a top floor suite with a terrace and a partial sea view. I wasn’t going to turn this down, clearly, but I did visit a standard room as you will see below.
I should say that suites are decent value at the Carlton, compared to the cost of a standard room. The cost per square metre was lower for a suite on the dates I checked – which is rare – and the views should be better too. If you are just coming to Cannes to chill at the hotel, splurging for a suite is not a bad option.
Here are some suite pictures. The photos make the white and cream look bland, but in reality the sheer quality of everything shines through.
…. and the large living room:
…. and the huge bathroom:
The shower and loo are to the left as you look at the picture, with the loo having a door. Toiletries, as the eagle eyed may have spotted, are 75ml bottles of Acqua di Parma products. Standard rooms also have Acqua di Parma but in smaller bottles.
I won’t spend too much time talking about the terrace, since only a handful of rooms have them, but as you can see from this photo:
…. it wasn’t a bad place to hang out, helped by the bottle of wine in an ice bucket helpfully waiting for me on arrival. I saw other rooms get this too – it wasn’t a media perk for me. The terrace also had a sofa which is not shown.
Inside a Premium room
Here are a couple of pictures of a twin bedded Premium room. This is one step up from the very cheapest room category, and a little larger.
As you can see, the decor of the room and bathroom is very similar to that of my suite, just obviously on a smaller scale. There is a standalone shower out of shot in the bathroom.
The pool and inner courtyard
Here is a view from the 7th floor looking into the courtyard. On the left and right are the new wings with the ‘residences’. Intriguingly, the building at the back directly overlooking the pool is not owned by the hotel – it is primarily full of short term holiday lets which get a great view of the pool and garden but can’t use it!
In early September, the pool was in shade until noon, and remained sunny into the early evening.
The grass, as you can just about see in the picture, has yet to fully bed in, presumably not helped by the very hot summer.
The loungers and cabanas around the pool were never full. There is a reason for this – they are not free. The September pricing is €50 for a day and €30 for a half day. This is cheaper than renting a lounger at the beach club as Part 2 will show. The hotel does not make it clear that you need to pay which may lead to some confusion.
Once you’re sat down by the pool, you’re looking at €14 for a diet coke from the cute pool bar:
The pool is lovely – heated, long enough for laps and rarely busy – and is free.
The back of the original wing is a little boring, as you can see, but this is because it was never meant to be seen by guests. This used to be a car park remember!
Regular readers will know that I’m not a gym person, but the amount of equipment available here is impressive. Heck, there is even a boxing ring:
There is also a small spa in one of the extension wings which I didn’t visit.
It’s the little touches ….
As I went around the hotel I found myself taking photographs of little things that stood out, all of which add to a sense of style.
Here are the interiors of the lifts:
…. and above the elevators on the ground floor you get these old fashioned indicators:
The back of the wardrobes have these details:
My room had this lovely stationery box, should I fancy sending a letter (on Carlton headed paper, of course) or a postcard home:
The plexiglass wall of the pool is set up to cast shadows of the hotel logo onto the walkway:
…. and what can you say about this fully restored staircase?
As with Andaz Prague, the hotel has been careful to ensure that the wall of money behind this project didn’t force out individual ideas and quirks.
Do you realise what you don’t see? There are no Regent logos anywhere. None. At all. There is a small Regent plaque by the entrance and that’s it. Everything else is Carlton branded. If it swapped chains tomorrow the cost of the switch would be €50 for a new brass plate for the entrance!
In Part 2 of my Carlton Cannes review, click here, I’ll look at the beach club, bar and restaurants.
IHG One Rewards update – December 2023:
Get bonus points: Our article on IHG’s current bonus promotion is here. You will receive 2,000 bonus points for every two cash nights you stay until 31st December. Nights do not need to be consecutive. Click here to register.
New to IHG One Rewards? Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.
Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.
IHG is offering a 100% bonus (some members may be offered less) when you buy points by 30th December 2023. Click here to buy.
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