A modern, glitzy scene in Cannes
Set on the same spot that was once home to the first Palais des Festivals, JW Marriott Cannes not only has a historic location — it’s also smack-dab in the middle of Boulevard de la Croisette. From the rooftop pool, you can look out and see yachts dotting the Mediterranean and the Cannes Film Festival's new home tucked away at the other end of La Croisette.
One of the youngest hotels lining the famous boulevard, the 261-room JW was built in 1992 after knocking down the former Palais. Built on one condition — that it would house an 825-seat auditorium to keep the festival spirit alive — the hotel changed hands and décor before taking on its present-day appearance as the JW Marriott.
The Cannes hotel still captures some of the former Palais' 1950s elegance, but also takes a bold, splashy modern spin on luxury lodgings.
Let's start with the lobby, because this entrance really sets the scene for your stay in Cannes. The rooftop pool lies just overhead the five-story atrium, which is draped in white Carrara marble with black and gold accents, a nod to the film festival's colors. A behemoth golden crystal leaf chandelier spirals downward the center of the space.
While the public areas exude a slightly ’80s vibe, the guest rooms are more masculine and contemporary in design, with brown leather-trimmed walls, dark furnishings, dim lighting and terraces overlooking the sea or garden courtyard. Large-scale black-and-white portraits of movie stars like Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot hang behind each bed.
One-bedroom suites start at 667 square with seafront balconies and culminate with the 1,829-square-foot, two-bedroom Presidential Suite, which has separate living and dining rooms and panoramic sea views.
The Dining and Drinking
The hotel's main restaurant, the JW Grill Cannes, gives you one of the best seats in the house — right on La Croisette facing the Mediterranean Sea. Chef Sébastien Klinholff, who was born nearby on the Riviera, whips up fresh surf-and-turf-style cuisine (New York strip, Brittany Coast lobster and Provence lamb) in a space just as spectacular as its dishes, draped in marble with ’70s-inspired furniture, gold mosaic and Swarovski crystal chandeliers.
The restaurant extends to an outdoor terrace and bar, which really starts to come to life when the film festival takes place in May, and is host to barbecue parties and seasonal events in summer, too. The alfresco bar is only open during the high season, but you can sit out and enjoy brunch or teatime here in the winter.
The champagne bar is another don't-miss, with its extensive wine list and top-notch bartenders managing the scene.
The Cinema and Sand
JW Marriott is beachfront, but unlike its neighbors, it lacks its own private beach. No need to worry though — the luxury hotel has a partnership with the beaches just next door and makes up for its lack of sand with the popular panoramic rooftop pool and terrace.
Snag light bites and handcrafted cocktails up here at Le Panorama Rooftop Snack & Bar, while taking in views of the Lérins Islands or summertime fireworks. You won't find an onsite spa, either, but the JW has a few other resort-like amenities from a fitness center to a shopping gallery and onsite gaming casino, if you want to try your luck without trekking over to Monte Carlo.
The one film festival relic, the auditorium, is still used for showings during the annual event in May, but the hotel also occasionally opens up the space for public viewings throughout the year.