Cannes’ legendary Hotel Carlton, which is celebrating its centenary this year, remains one of the town’s most iconic locations and enduringly popular hotels. Look for the classic Cannes festival photos and you can spot it easily. The grandiose belle époque façade is there behind shots of Robert Mitchum and Brigitte Bardot, Woody Allen and Sylvester Stallone. In 1954, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant shot a scene for Alfred Hitchcok in Suite 623.
Hotel Carlton, the love story
The hotel (officially called the Intercontinental Carlton) was born out of a love story. Amongst the early investors was the Grand Duke Michel, a member of Russia’s Imperial family. He had chosen exile at the end of the 19th century so as to marry the granddaughter of the writer Alexander Pouchkine. At the time, Cannes was a fishing village. None of the hotels had bathrooms – so the Grand Duke built himself one that did. The hotel has since changed hands very many times, but is still one of the jewels in Cannes’ crown.
The hotel has had its moments of history and infamy. The first meeting of the League of Nations (the forerunner of the United Nations) was held here in 1922. Since then, countless stars, heads of State and millionaires have become regulars, each with their own demands. In the 1990s, Faye Dunaway asked for gallons of goat milk to take baths, according to a former employee. One American actor asked that crates of his favourite mineral water be flown in during the Cannes Film Festival. According to AFP, an unnamed French actress asked that a lawn be installed on her terrace for her dog.
But there are also moments of pure fun. During the Midem music trade fair, the piano in the staircase case has often been used for impromptu music jam sessions.
The palace has 343 rooms including 39 suites. To unwind like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, why not try the 380 m2 “Sean Connery” suite with private elevator? Expect to pay 20,000 euros a night during the festival and in high season for that little luxury. But rest assured, outside of the high season and trade fairs, rooms can be had for about €250 (see below).
During the festival, the façade of the Carlton has become one of the prime places to place advertising. Major movies often completely cover the facade with extravagant recreations of the movie they are promoting. Snow in the glorious month of May? Yes, the Carlton has had that as well.
If you have a good Carlton anecdote to share, why not drop it below?
Still hesitating? You’ll find broader tips about staying in Cannes at Cannes: Where to stay.