Tuesday, January 31, 2012

3.14 Hotel - Cannes

I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of guy who appreciates solitude and calm surroundings, yet when I want to have some fun and adventure, I like to go all out.

When I first approached the 3.14 Hotel in Cannes, there was something magnetic about it, it had a different vibe, and as soon as I walked into the hotel, something made me want to explore every inch of this intriguing place.

I was immediately taken in by the dramatic and yet seductive interiors.  I just knew this was the place for me!  It’s like having the best of both worlds: calming, yet adventurous. 

You will find that 3.14 Hotel is certainly not your usual hotel.
It is nothing less than an experience. 

Somehow it feels very connected and as one with Cannes, yet it somehow feels like you have also entered a whole new world.

This socially and centrally located 4-star hotel provides every amenity imaginable and is serviced by top notch, gorgeous staff.  It is also very creative, inspirational and yet relaxing in its design and color palette.

If you are an art lover, this is also the place to be.  You will find various exhibits are put on throughout the hotel and the tastes in art are wide and varied.

During my visit, I was given an information package and in it states, “The 3.14 offers you the opportunity to live something really different.  Built around the principles of Feng Shui, 3.14 Hotel invites you to discover these 5 floors, each representing one of the 5 continents: America, as a creative continent, Africa, at the desert gates, Oceania, distant islands, Europe, Paris la Belle Époque, Asia, impressions of the rising sun.

Designed accordingly to Feng Shui rules of harmony which encourages energy to circulate more freely the five elements of: water, wood, fire, earth and metal.”

All this is certainly true.  You can choose the floor and type of room (95 rooms varying in size and style) that suits your needs and current mood.

It’s easy enough to read this but until you experience it personally, it is really something else.

When I was being shown the different floors, as soon as I stepped off the elevator I felt as though I was in a totally new environment each time.  The lighting and fixtures would be different, as were the colors of the walls, furnishings and design. 

Each floor brought on its own mood and this would match that feeling in the hotel room, (which are comparable to North America in size) and just wait until you discover what is inside the “Love Box” left on your bed for your arrival.

Although some floors may initially feel more dramatic than the others, overall there was still a Zen-like feeling to it all, so even if your room is perhaps more vibrant in color, you will not have trouble sleeping in it.  Could this be Feng Shui at work?

I also found the rooms to be immaculately clean and organized as is the rest of the hotel, there are staff at every point in the hotel making sure that everything is well taken care of and guests are happy.

What I also enjoyed was the library/meeting space on the main level in the center of the hotel.

Here you can take a look through any of the art books on hand, hang out with friends or do some work on your laptop while being surrounded by more fabulous artwork and beautiful people.

Right next to the library area, also on the main level, is the 3.14 restaurant/bar/club lounge.  This large part of the hotel too feels vivacious and alive, especially with the jet set crowd in attendance.

DJ’s regularly spin their sets here for the hotel guests and the locals in Cannes, the lighting is always perfect and the room can easily be transformed to suit any event. 

For an added change, be seated outside on the outdoor lounge off the restaurant to enjoy the ambiance with a drink or two.

Not only is this whole section of the hotel a great place to hang out and meet new people, you’ll notice the restaurant menu is extensive and organic in tastes: all very satisfying. 

The 3.14 Hotel also takes your business needs seriously, so if you wanted to book one of their meeting rooms for a conference or what have you, just let them know.

While you are at 3.14 Hotel, a must see is the spectacular rooftop area where you can take advantage of the many different spa treatments available such as getting a massage or you can even do yoga. 

But what made my jaw drop open the most was the ultra-inviting pool, lounge and Jacuzzi area.  Absolutely perfect!

The stunning views of the majestic Carlton Hotel with the sea in the background alone are worth the visit, you have to see how the Jacuzzi feels perched on the top corner end of the building.  Edgy. 
This is a totally genius set up.

Something else you have to indulge in here is an event called a, “Silence Party”.

For those that don’t know, a Silence Party is an event where one or more DJ’s spin but instead of a speaker system in place, you will receive a set of wireless headphones to wear.

Once you have on the headphones, just look towards the DJ for a sign to see which channel they are playing on and then dance the night away.  These parties are held so that there is less of a worry about noise curfews then everyone can continue on.

Silence Parties are tons of fun and very interesting to be a part of if you have never been to one before, I highly recommend them.

It also seems normal that this would be a part of the 3.14 Hotel experience.  If you wish to go, it’s wise to get there early as they are very popular and you will otherwise have to queue to get in.  This is only one of the many types of events 3.14 holds.

Want to go to the beach?  It’s literally at the end of the street.  As if the 3.14 Hotel wasn’t already enough of a package, walk to the end of the street towards the sea and you will come upon 3.14 Le Plage (Beach).  I instantly fell in love with this place.  

The hot, friendly waiters provide the best service, the food and drinks are delicious and the colors here are once again very dynamic and yet work easily with the natural surroundings of the sand and sea.

This is the perfect place to come for a bite to eat, a soothing drink, relax and tan on one of the lounge chairs along their manicured beach (yes, a manicured, pristine beach) and cool off in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.

3.14 Hotel is in the heart of it all in Cannes, just head to Boulevard de la Croisette along the sea and when you are near the corner of the Carlton Hotel, you will want to turn left on to rue Francois Einesy and straight ahead, on the left hand side is 3.14 Hotel at: 5 rue Francois Einesy.

Believe me, your first experience here will be the start of your best experiences.  If you want to have one of those glamorous moments in the South of France and especially in Cannes, this is one of the places to be.

What I personally love about the hotel, besides the fact that the name 3.14 is also the month and date of my birthday, is how alive and radiant it feels.

The hotel is so naturally welcoming to any and all nationalities and sexualities.  3.14 Hotel is a very gay-friendly hotel.  There is a feeling of acceptance and vitality for life here.

I highly suggest if you are in Cannes and want to change things up from your usual hotel stay, whether it be for just a short weekend getaway or for an extended stay, check in to the 3.14 Hotel in Cannes. 

Photos  © 3.14 Hotel

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Les Bains Douches

Before I begin, I would just like to say I wish I had more pictures for this post, and I wish there was a website link I could add for you. 

Believe me, I’ve spoken to the manager of Les Bains Douches a couple of times about this, trying to encourage him to put up a website, because as someone coming from North America, this is almost unheard of nowadays.  A gay bathhouse/sauna not having a website?!

But alas, no such luck.
  I guess you are just going to have to believe me when I tell you that if you were curious about where you should be going in Nice for some hot bathhouse action, Les Bains Douches is your “go to” location.  Even my friends that live in the Cote d’Azur all seem to agree.

You see, Les Bains Douches has been a fixture in Nice for many years now and without question it is the most popular gay bathhouse in the city, if not this region of France.

For myself, having had 13 plus years experience managing bathhouses, I know how important it is to make sure customers always come in feeling comfortable immediately in this type of environment, especially if this is their first visit.  And that attention is given to details in the space.
  Well you will certainly find this and more the minute you walk through the door of this sauna.

At Les Bains Douches, the manager and staff are always very hospitable, if this is your first time there, they have no problem showing you where everything can be located, in fact, I have found they will jump at the chance to guide you around.

Les Bains Douches is located on a very safe, business/residential type of street in central Nice.  Inside, the bathhouse is laid out over three levels.  As soon as you walk in, to your right is the check-in counter where you pay a small, flat fee, then you will be buzzed into the bar/lobby area, through there is the rest of the bathhouse.

I hesitate in giving you the exact details of what is on each floor because I have found the owner likes to change and
improve the space.  Les Bains Douches is continually kept fresh, upgraded and interesting.  You will find your usual labyrinth of hallways, areas for play, glory holes, dry and wet saunas, porn and other wet areas, just with some extra touches.

I will tell you this though, I love how grand the curved marble stairwell feels.
  I love how the huge porn room on the top floor is set up with vinyl foam mattresses on different levels.  I love how relaxing the large, rectangular Jacuzzi area can be with the stained glass ceiling.

You will find the whole club is spotlessly clean, and very well maintained.  The friendly staff will help you with any questions you might have, not only about Les Bains Douches but with anything to do with the gay scene in Nice.

Here is what I also like, when you arrive and before you check in, without asking, they will tell you how busy it is with customers inside.  So that you do not pay to come in only to find there are maybe 5-10 people in the bathhouse.  Then the choice to proceed to come in or not is entirely up to you.  Being honest, you cannot get better service than that.

Les Bains Douches is very easy to find.  If you are coming from Place Massena, go to the side of Galeries Lafayette that is on rue Gioffredo and walk about three blocks east until you are at the cross street of rue Gubernatis, turn left and you will find the sauna at: 7 rue Gubernatis.  It’s a decent, very discreet looking building with a discreet off the street entrance.  No big flashing signs.

Les Bains Douches is open every day from 1pm until 10pm, although I have sometimes seen them stay open until midnight.

So although there is no website link, if gay bathhouses are your thing, you really must check out Les Bains Douches.

I guess when your business naturally attracts the locals and visiting international clientele.  That just means you have a very diverse crowd and something for everyone, so maybe one doesn’t need to go through all the fuss of having a website?  Whatever they are doing, it’s working!

As always, play safe and have fun.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Gay Nude Hideaways

To step away from Cannes, Nice and other areas for a moment, I would like to mention one of my favorite places on Earth.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat or also locally known as Cap Ferrat.

One thing Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is known for being is as one of the most expensive peninsulas in the world to own property.  And lucky for us, you will also be able to find a couple of gay-friendly, nude, sun bathing areas there.

Now these two “gay areas” are not necessarily as popular as St. Laurent-Eze Beach (St. Laurent-Eze Gay Nude Beach) but they are still worth the trip as the locations are of the most picturesque imaginable.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is located between Nice and Monaco.  More directly, the peninsula starts between the towns of Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

There are many ways to get to the gay sun bathing areas.  The main thing you are going to want to keep in mind is that the lighthouse (Phare du Cap Ferrat) at the tip of Cap Ferrat is the landmark you are going to want to go towards.

This massive lighthouse can be seen from many different directions, even from the beach in Nice.  The gay-friendly areas are located just below the lighthouse.  Before you go, I advise you to take enough food and water supplies as there are no stores near the sun bathing areas, and to also wear decent running shoes.

If you are driving, just look for the various signs for the turns between Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer that will take you directly into Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.  And because it is a peninsula, all streets in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat tend to take you in the direction of the lighthouse.  You will also be able to park for free on the street close to the lighthouse, provided you can find a space.

If you decide to walk to the gay sunbathing areas, but are taking the train to get to Cap Ferrat, I would choose to get off at the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station.  This way if you forgot to pick up a perishable item, you can then do that by walking through Beaulieu-sur-Mer, which will very quickly take you into Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where in the Saint-Jean village you can also pick up items.

I say this because if you come by way of Villefranche-sur-Mer train station, and follow the coastline trail that outlines the peninsula to the lighthouse, you are not going to find any stores along the way.  For this walk, no matter what time of year it is, you are going to need to keep yourself hydrated.

From Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the coastline trail is very easy to find.  Take a left when you exit the train station, and immediately you will see boulevard du Maréchal Leclerc ahead of you, turn left when you are on the boulevard.

Outside the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station
Walk down boulevard du Maréchal Leclerc, past the quaint shops for about 2-3 blocks until you are at the intersection of avenue des Hellènes.  Cross the street (where there is a grocery store) and continue to your right for a couple of blocks until you are at the sea and beach by the casino.

Continue this way along the sea and you will easily find the start of the coastline trail directly in right front of the Hotel Royal Riviera.  Simply follow the trail and take in all the wonderful scenery, while being surrounded by some of the most opulent properties you have ever seen.
Before you know it, you will be in Saint-Jean village.

You will know when you have arrived at Saint-Jean village when the coastline trail you are on, (Promenade Maurice Rouvier) takes you to avenue Denis Semeria.  Stay on your left alongside the sea into the village until you see avenue Claude Vignon to your right.

Cross on to that street, but stay on your left hand side and follow it until it turns into what feels like a private lane called: Chemin de la Carrière.

Simply stay on that street, walking past the private estates as the street turns into a gravel path, open section of land.  Head towards the derelict building in the distance, once just past the building the gravel path will then turn back to being a sidewalk along the sea.  Here you will continue to the gay areas.

I realize this is a lot of direction, but for a first time visitor, I want to try to make it easy for you to find if you are walking.

I know there are buses you can take, but also as a first time visitor, if you want to really take in the beautiful scenery, I always feel walking is a great way to experience it all and meet the locals.

You will start to know you are close to the gay area when you are on the trail, passing the gated, private Hotel du Cap Ferrat pool section of land that leads to the sea.

Immediately, you will see the lighthouse in the distance, so just head towards it by following the coastline trail.

When you are near the lighthouse, instead of ascending the set of stairs in front of you to the lighthouse, look to your left as you will then see the unmarked gay sun bathing area.

There is plenty of room to set up your towel and belongings either on the rocks near the sea or tucked up on a landing closer to the bushes.  The rocks are so white from being bleached by the sun, and the area is so vast that you will not believe how easy it is to just set up out in the open and lie naked in the sun.  Of course be aware that there are other people walking along the trail, so don’t set up too close to it. 

To get to the other gay area, ascend the stairs to the top near the lighthouse.  When you arrive at the drinking fountain, stay on the trail to your left.

As you walk along the trail, very shortly you will see a small gated estate on your left hand side, after you walk past that, you are going to want to turn on to the first little trail that opens up to your left.   

Cautiously descend down the trail and you will see that it splinters off into many different directions leading towards the sea.  I personally prefer this area the most as it is lush with greenery amongst secluded landings.  It also seems to be more popular with other gay guys, yet you can still have your privacy if you desire.

If you have chosen to drive and were able to find the lighthouse and a parking spot, just follow these same directions to get to the gay locations, but take it from the water fountain area that is at the bottom of the stairs from the street level at the lighthouse.

When you reach this spot, either choose to go left or right.
Naturally in these gay sun bathing areas men seem to cruise each other, action happens, but there is also a sense of decorum about it all as well.  You can choose to wear your swimsuit or go nude.  Many sections here are very secluded.
Be safe and enjoy!