Dormez Bien: Hôtel Lion d’Or, Cauturets, Hautes-Pyrénées

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- Credit: Archant

Explore the charming resort of Cauterets where one family’s mountain hospitality goes back a century

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Cauterets, high in the Pyrénées south of Lourdes, witnessed the birth of French tourism when 19th-century visitors were attracted by the apparently health-giving properties of its thermal waters. More recently the resort has developed into an intimate ski station with a reputation for reliable snow.

The family-run Hôtel Lion d’Or opened in the town 100 years ago and although it has evolved with the resort, many things remain unchanged. It still serves a set dinner for all guests at 7.30pm, which gives everyone a chance to exchange pleasantries over an aperitif and to meet Thomas, the latest generation of the Lasserre family to run the business.

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Meanwhile, his mother prepares traditional Pyrenean food that is simple yet intriguing. I enjoyed a meal that included locally produced foie gras, black pudding and goat’s cheese. At breakfast, Madame Lasserre’s speciality is merveilleux – sweet little pastry pillows.

Despite the hotel being in a constant state of barely discernible renovation, the Lasserres have chosen to retain many period features. Large converted oil lamps hang over the dining room and a large brass coffee maker resembling a part from a Jules Verne time machine sits behind the bar.

Mostly, the continuity is in the careful preservation of the mountain atmosphere. The rooms, which are reached via a tightly wound wooden staircase, are unfussy and simply furnished. Lace covers the table-tops and the lampshades, while the floors are bare and just a little creaky. The light fittings are in brass and the telephone is a wonderful working antique. However, the modern and spacious bathrooms do not conform to the Spartan tone.

Space is tight in Cauterets and the rooms to the front are directly above a very narrow street. It is so narrow, in fact, that it is difficult to properly take in the hotel’s elegant three-storey neo-classical façade. Most windows opening on to the street are full height and each has a cast-iron guard.

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The hotel’s central position means that it is just 50 metres from the Bains de Rocher thermal spa and a short walk from the main ski lift - an important factor when you are wearing ski boots.

Hôtel Lion d’Or

12 Rue Richelieu

65110 Cauterets

Tel: (Fr) 5 62 92 52 87

www.hotel-cauterets.fr