48 Hours at Hotel Le Maquis - Porticcio, Corsica
To start it off right, it was one of the hardest decisions of the trip: Either leave L’Andana (a long time favourite hotel of mine) early and arrive in the middle of the night at Le Maquis or leave Maremma for an early bird ferry ride to Corsica. We decided for the first one and one reason I did not regret this choice was of course the stunning room at L’Andana as well as the fact that I have scored a room for two nights at Le Maquis. Why scored? If you are not familiar to that one particular hotel, well let me explain why Le Maquis in Porticcio should be on your list. Set a bit off from the bustling seaside town of Porticcio, this property does not only enjoy a stellar reputation, it also has one of Corsica’s best locations, built in a private bay with a sandy beach and turquoise waters but still overlooking the city of Ajaccio. Furthermore, it was once the island’s first Leading Hotel of the World (nowadays they are not part anymore) and still one of the top 5 hotels on the island.
Let me be clear on that one: you don’t stay at Le Maquis for the design – you are living in a museum-like hotel and the stay should be considered as that. From old-school service, via traditional French medieval interior design to old styled food as if you were still living in the Golden Ages just having passed Grace Kelly who finished her lobster at lunch and is now heading to the pool overlooking the blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Obviously this was a first hint not to forget about the dress code on site. Vilebrequin shorts for men on the beach are as essential as the jacket for dinner. Next etiquette shows up for breakfast: rather than offering the rooms on a more convenient bed & breakfast basis, Le Maquis prefers to charge an additional 28 euros per person for a rather simple Continental breakfast. Welcome to the Parisian way of doing luxury hotels. Having talked about rules, I shall get to the point on what really makes it unique.
We took the ferry departing Tuscany in the afternoon so we had a first glimpse of Bastia at night before we passed the entire island in about under two hours – while the GPS told us it would take roughly three – only to arrive at Le Maquis at around 10.30 pm. No problem since I sent an email to the hotel letting me know about the late arrival. I was first impressed when they replied and asked if they could arrange a cold platter to be served in the room upon late-arrival. Since we had a late lunch on the ship, I friendly declined but loved the attention to details. Upon arrival, the bellman was still waiting for me to help with the luggage and show me to the front desk where I was welcomed in typical French way. He then showed me up to my room on the first floor. A brief room tour followed which was really nice considering the time of the day. I loved that they still cared even tough I was a late-arrival.
In general, I liked the room (note, I did my research and knew what to expect) as it was perfectly matching the building and style of hotel plus the setting and Corsica’s historic background. Considering this room is sold at 500 euros per night (not even including breakfast) my first impression wasn’t happiness. There were slight problems with the housekeeping service and I needed to do some work first to be able to enjoy the stay. While the bed did not look comfy at first, I was surprised that it actually was good and I slept well. There are two to three pillows per person making it very comfortable and an additional blanket is put between the bed cover and bed sheet. I hope they change the bed covers between guests, maybe it would be better to put white sheets and a blanket in between. The next slight shock came when I saw the bathroom. It’s not the size that makes it one of the least sexy five star bathrooms I have seen, but more the idea to provide a shower-tub-combo and then not even providing a glass or curtain to stop the water from flooding the entire bathroom. While my bathroom was an exception, most of the bathrooms are newly designed and feature Axor faucets and state-of-the-art bathroom furniture (my parents got a more spacious room with a new bathroom actually).
First hope came up when I saw the generously sized Guerlain toiletries that totally came up for the worst shower experience. Unfortunately, the towels were not as comfortable as the bathrobes and slippers were, plus the bath towels could really be bigger. Interestingly the toiletries were never replaced during the two-night-stay and again the housekeeping didn’t do a good job in the bathroom. Now I have to be honest, but when I woke up and opened the doors it didn’t take a second until I told myself: “Alright, I don’t care about the price anymore, this is what you pay for”. A stunning view that can only be described as a dream of turquoise, green and blue in addition to birds chasing the clouds and waves breaking into the light brown sand of the private bay which was completely deserted. Two very comfy armchairs and a table are offered on the covered terrace to sit down once you are left speechless like me.
The majority of the rooms enjoy stunning vistas of the private bay and let’s be precise – after having seen a lot of Corsica’s beauty - this is by far one of the top beaches on the island. And on top of that comes that you don’t pay for the sun beds on their private beach club with service and beach boys who prepare your chairs, provide towels and arrange the umbrellas. I enjoyed the access to the sea a lot and appreciate the flawless water quality Le Maquis has. Generally, the view from the sea while swimming onto the majestic hotel is really special – it makes you feel like you are still back in times of Napoleon Bonaparte. While I love classics and am a total fan of hotel restaurants at holiday destinations just not needing to leave the property, I had to give the famous L’Arbousier a miss. To be totally honest again, I would have had lunch at the restaurant at least once however 85 euros for the menu is not the lunch I had in mind for a beach hotel.
Actually I learned a few days later how a perfect culinary concept of a luxury hotel needs to look like. As a guest of a luxury beach resort you don’t want that 85 euros set menu, since one light and healthy dish for lunch is all you need when you commute between sun bed and hotel room. At this point, Le Maquis has to do some more homework. There should be a difference between a fancy dinner and a light casual lunch. Even though there might be guests requesting the 85 euros menu for lunch, I just don’t think it is the majority. Overall it was a very interesting experience to stay at Le Maquis Porticcio. As a hotel aficionado, I had no other choice than staying here at least once. There are not many pictures of the hotel plus to all that comes that their regular customers don’t write reviews or take pictures and post them online.
Expect to pay the 500 euros in high season which is still less than compared to what you pay in the Southern part of Corsica but you actually stay at a Palace directly on the seaside plus living the Grand Hotel life in France. If Le Maquis solves its current downsides (breakfast charged at an extra fee, no light lunch option and outdated bathrooms plus insufficient housekeeping), they could easily charge around the 1k mark as in Porto Vecchio. It is definitely a great place to stay when you are on the west coast of Corsica and a must once you are coming to the island for the first time. Especially during the low season months of May and October, I can imagine it is perfect since it is warm and sunny plus the hotel selling rooms for as low as 200 to 300 euros a night which is a great deal. Not forgetting the lovely indoor pool at the other side of the hotel filled with daylight and overlooking the Mediterranean in the most romantic way, turning every cold day into a summer day.
I was a guest of Hotel Le Maquis Porticcio, however all above written expresses my own opinion and has not been influenced.