France’s best boutique hotels (on a budget!)
Putting on the style doesn’t have to break the bank - here is our guide to 25 top accomodation choices across France
Villa Fol Avril
Tucked away in Normandy’s Perche nature park, this comfortable hotel is a lovely little bolt-hole for a weekend or longer. Set in a former coaching inn, the 12 light and airy rooms and suites mix exposed timber, terracotta tiles and linen with antique and vintage furniture. A real treat is the heated swimming pool in the walled gardens, which also offer countryside views. In the evening, tuck into the local seasonal menu in the restaurant.
2 Rue des Fers Chauds, 61110 Moutiers-au-Perche, Tel: (Fr) 2 33 83 22 67, www.villafolavril.fr, Doubles from €90.
After bracing coastal walks on the tip of Finistère in Brittany, there is nowhere better to cosy up for the night than this hotel set in a 16th-century merchant’s house in Le Conquet. The hotel is part-owned by an interior designer, and it shows; its ten rooms are decorated in calming blues and greys to match the natural stone walls, while bathrooms are squeezed cleverly into each room to make them all en suite. Meanwhile, the wonderful original stone staircase is sure to impress. Indulge in a post-walk treat in the tea room, then ease away your aches in the whirlpool bath.
1 Rue du Lieutenant Jourden, 29217 Le Conquet, Tel: (Fr) 2 98 89 17 79, www.sawdays.co.uk, Doubles from €65.
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This refined hotel in La Flèche, in Sarthe, opened in winter 2013, having been renovated by new owners. Its 14 rooms are decorated in sophisticated tones of grey, green and brown, while bare floorboards, antique furniture and artefacts with a colonial vibe add to the feel of a bygone era. After spending days exploring the surrounding countryside, the Loir (the one without an ‘e’) Valley and the nearby towns of Le Mans and Angers, you can relax in a leather armchair in the wood-panelled library over a cognac and the daily paper. What could be more gentlemanly than that?
17 Rue de la Tour d’Auvergne, 72200 La Flèche, Tel: (Fr) 2 43 45 89 36, www.legentleman.fr, Doubles from €89.
A hotel decorated in the exotic style of the Orient may seem a little incongruous in the town of Vannes on the Golfe du Morbihan, but the Villa Kerasy is a charming little hideaway that brings the best of India and the Far East a bit closer. The restaurant serves Ayurvedic cuisine (based on ancient holistic health principles from India), while the spa offers Ayurvedic treatments as well as yoga and meditation sessions. Rooms are decorated along the themes and colours of the French, English
and Dutch ports once frequented by Breton sailors.
20 Avenue Favrel et Lincy, 56000 Vannes, Tel: (Fr) 2 97 68 36 83, www.villakerasy.com, Doubles from €94.
Hôtel du Dragon
If you’re looking for a base in the Alsatian capital of Strasbourg, the Hôtel du Dragon ticks all the right boxes. It lies just a short stroll from the mighty Gothic cathedral and the pretty area known as La Petite France, with its medieval half-timbered houses and narrow lanes. The hotel offers simply decorated, light and airy rooms, with mod-cons, such as satellite TV and free Wi-Fi, while the secluded terrace makes an enticing place to sit in the sun.
12 Rue du Dragon, 67000 Strasbourg, Tel: (Fr) 3 88 35 79 80, www.dragon.fr, Doubles from €71.
Château de Noyelles
What could be nicer than a room with a view of the Baie de Somme, with its wide open skies, and the ebb and flow of the tide? This charming château-hotel offers just eight rooms, some with a turret, others with balconies, but all decorated in relaxing whites, greys and blues. In the salons and dining room, enormous elegant mirrors, sculptured marble fireplaces, antique furniture and objets d’art combine to give you a taste of what life was like here in the 19th century. Outside, in the landscaped gardens, two roulottes – gypsy caravans – offer a night under the stars.
28-30 Rue du Maréchal Foch, 80860 Noyelles-sur-Mer, Tel: (Fr) 3 22 23 68 70, www.chateauxhotels.com, Doubles from €95.
Michelin-starred chef Alexandre Gauthier’s hotel is anything but ordinary. What was once a local family-run restaurant, near the town of Montreuil-sur-Mer, is now a destination in itself, with Gauthier’s radical cuisine rivalling that of Heston Blumenthal. The luxurious rooms in the century-old farmhouse are simply decorated in a modern style with tones of green and brown. There are books to browse and natural-scented products in the bathrooms. Those with a bigger budget can book into the huts, which give you the chance to enjoy the tranquillity.
Rue de la Grenouillère, 62170 La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, Tel:(Fr) 3 21 06 07 22, www.lagrenouillere.fr, Doubles from €140.
For quirky vintage style, you can’t beat the hotel Les Pilotes at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. Its 25 rooms offer retro furniture, funky patterned wallpaper, kooky cushions and unique touches including Scottish tartan, vintage 1960s lamps, animal-patterned carpets or men’s suit-fabric curtains. Mod-cons are definitely mod, though, with flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi and mini-bars all on offer. The bistro offers fresh fish brought ashore by local fishermen, while the bar is the perfect spot in which to sip a cold sauvignon blanc and stare out to sea.
62 Rue de la Ferté, 80230 Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, Tel: (Fr) 3 22 60 80 39, www.chateauxhotels.com, Doubles from €100.
Hôtel Marotte in Amiens was not easy to find. The one signpost that also indicates its five-star status pointed me through the semi-pedestrianised city centre and past the imposing cathedral, but it was only after three passes, asking several bemused locals, and a bit of luck, that I eventually found it.The difficulty is that the Marotte is new and, perhaps out of respect for local sensibilities that consider anything beyond two stars as decadent, its profile is respectfully low-key.
Comprised of a red-brick belle-époque town house and modern extension, referred to as ‘the cube’, the Marotte is entered via a small courtyard. Despite the city centre position, the urban hubbub remains firmly outside.
Under the supervision of heritage organisations, Estelle Walti and her husband Oliver have nurtured the building back to glory. The breakfasting room and salon de thé – with its chandelier, parquet flooring, ornate cornicing and five tall French windows – has the majesty of a ballroom.
The furniture, made specially for the hotel by the in-house carpenter, follows classic lines, but the colour scheme of grey, purple and burnt orange vividly roots the building in the present. There are eight bedrooms in the original part and my room, despite being the smallest, had a separate dressing area, sitting area and spacious double-aspect bathroom with a large bath.
The cube houses three huge suites and a penthouse, each of which has a wow factor. One has a sauna and another has a bath chiselled out of
a huge rock. Common to all are carefully chosen furnishings, high-quality surfaces and original artworks.
The Marotte represents a bold step for Amiens and I am sure it will become both a regional landmark and much easier to find.
3 Rue Marotte, 80000 Amiens, Tel: (Fr) 3 60 12 50 00, www.hotel-marotte.com, Doubles from €145.
Hôtel des Académies et des Arts
If you’re inclined to a bit of flânerie on the Left Bank, then you should feel right at home at the achingly chic Hôtel des Académies et des Arts, where you can while away the hours and feel inspired by the nearby galleries and museums. This 20-room hotel has five-star decor and service, but without the five-star price tag – ideal for those on a budget befitting a struggling artist or actor. Indeed, the interiors are perfect for such characters; the Comédienne room offers red velvet headboards and curtains, while the Man Ray reflects the Surrealist artist’s famous photography, and is decorated in black and white.
15 Rue de la Grande Chaumière,75006 Paris, Tel: 0208 338 7753, www.mrandmrssmith.com, Doubles from €189.
Hôtel de Lille
The Left Bank is one of the best places to base yourself on a trip to Paris, and this little hotel allows you to stay there for
a snip. Some rooms are stylishly decorated in a mix of grey, black and silver, with large black and white photos, while others are not quite so chic, with mustard and terracotta colour schemes. The hotel is a short walk from the Musée du Louvre, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame and the Musée d’Orsay, and is surrounded by great restaurants and bars, so the chances of you spending much time here are low, but it’s a great retreat when the city has worn you out.
40 Rue de Lille, 75007 Paris, Tel: (Fr) 1 42 61 29 09, www.hoteldelille.com, Doubles from €116.
Hotel B Paris Boulogne
A limited budget in the City of Light need not mean compromising on a stylish abode for a night or two, and the Hotel B’s location just outside the Boulevard Périphérique means it can keep its standards up, but its costs down. Decorated in muted greys, with splashes of bright reds, purples and oranges, the 47 en-suite rooms offer satellite TV and free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is served in the small dining room downstairs and the hotel is a five-minute walk to the nearest métro, which will whisk you into the city.
210 bis Boulevard Jean Jaurès, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt, Tel: (Fr) 1 46 21 45 25, www.hotelbparisboulogne.com, Doubles from €60.
La Maison Montparnasse
This charming hotel is set in a lovely part of the 14th arrondissement, near bakeries and restaurants. It’s also handily located between two métro stations, making it easy to get into central Paris. Its 36 rooms are small, but pleasantly decorated in bright orange, pink, purple or yellow, with the same colour scheme carried through in stripy carpet and wallpaper elsewhere. There is a good choice for breakfast, which can be eaten on the small terrace, and staff are helpful and friendly.
53 Rue de Gergovie, 75014 Paris, Tel: (Fr) 1 45 42 11 39, www.lamaisonmontparnasse.com, Doubles from €125.
Le Potin Gourmand
The clue to what this stylish hotel is all about is in the name. And it is the chef-owner Serge Ripert who is cooking up the storm in its restaurant, having travelled the world in search of inspiration. Housed in a former pottery near the medieval Cluny Abbey, the hotel’s 12 rooms are individually styled; some blend bright red with dark grey, for a strikingly modern take, while others make the most of their wooden beams with more neutral tones. Whichever room you choose, there’s no better place to relax after enjoying one of Ripert’s wonderful tasting menus.
Place du Champ de Foire, 71250 Cluny, Tel: (Fr) 3 85 59 02 06, www.potingourmand.com, Doubles from €95.
Framed by woods and perched next to a trickling stream, this bijou Burgundian bolt-hole has just five rooms, hidden inside its vine-clad 17th-century walls. The decor makes use of its original stone, yet despite the rustic surroundings, this former mill draws on more sophisticated influences for its interior design; mid-century and retro furniture adds a Danish vibe, while the collection of beautiful glassware and china creates that certain je ne sais quoi. Add the swimming pool and table d’hôte evenings, and it may be difficult to drag yourself away to explore the Morvan forest and Roman town of Autun.
Chemin du Vieux Moulin, 71400 Autun, Tel: 0208 338 7753, www.mrandmrssmith.com, Doubles from €135.
Le Cheval Blanc
This charming little hotel, set in a 19th-century staging inn, has had a facelift in recent years. Its new owners have made the most of the original timber beams alongside classic and elegant decor in calming neutral tones. The relaxing atmosphere has been enhanced by the pedestrianisation of Bléré’s main street outside, which has allowed the nine rooms to become havens of quiet and calm, much like its rear courtyard where breakfast and dinner can be served. Dip in the swimming pool to cool off after a day exploring the nearby Loire Valley châteaux.
5 Place Charles Bidault, 37150 Bléré, Tel: (Fr) 2 47 30 30 14, www.sawdays.co.uk, Doubles from €75.
Hôtel du Château
The restored medieval town of Carcassonne is the masterwork of architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2014. Perched beneath his turreted citadel – a Unesco World Heritage site –
the Hôtel du Château has 16 sumptuous rooms and suites. Walk the city walls, soak up the atmosphere, and then relax in the hotel’s swimming pool, terrace and spa.
2 Rue Camille Saint-Saëns, 11000 Carcassonne, Tel: (Fr) 4 68 11 38 38, www.hotelduchateau.net, Doubles from €146.
Hostellerie les Griffons
Perched on a bridge spanning the River Dronne in the rolling Dordogne hills, the Hostellerie les Griffons’ ten charming rooms look out over the river itself, the Château de Bourdeilles and an old mill. The decor makes use of the 16th-century stone walls or, on the top floor, the original roof beams. The restaurant serves delicious local cuisine, set against a sensational river view, while the patio looks over a small swimming pool.
24310 Bourdeilles, Tel: (Fr) 5 53 45 45 35, www.sawdays.co.uk, Doubles from €95.
Mama Shelter Bordeaux
Mama Shelter’s original Philippe Starck-designed style-on-a-budget hotel opened in Paris in 2008 and since then further hotels have opened in Marseille, Lyon and even Istanbul. The latest can be found in Bordeaux, where it is housed in the former HQ of France’s national gas company. It offers minimalist rooms and fantastic views from its roof terrace, as well as a restaurant – including a pizzeria – and a stylish bar.
19 Rue Poquelin Molière, 33000 Bordeaux, Tel: (Fr) 5 57 30 45 45, www.mamashelter.com, Doubles from €69.
Whether it’s the golf course that draws you to the wild west coast at Hossegor in Landes or the chance to surf the Atlantic waves, Hôtel 202 makes the perfect base. This modern hotel is just 50 metres from a golf course and not much further from the beach. The 25 rooms offer fresh, clean decor and personal balconies from which to breathe in the fresh sea air. A great breakfast spread awaits, setting you up perfectly for an active day ahead.
202 Avenue du Golf,40150 Hossegor, Tel: (Fr) 5 58 43 22 02, www.sawdays.co.uk, Doubles from €110.
Château de la Falque
Just outside the historic centre of Saint-Geniez-d’Olt in the Upper Lot Valley, Château de la Falque is set in a carefully renovated 17th-century convent. The hotel has modern and luxurious interiors, combined with beautiful historic buildings, and ten rooms. My room, the Chambre Afrique, was on the ground floor in the former cloister. Stepping into the room from the romantically lit courtyard was like moving to a different hotel; the modern interior featured wall paintings of elephants – cleverly evoking the continent after which the room is named.
The bedroom has a large double bed, comfortable seating, a TV, free Wi-Fi and an en-suite bathroom with wet-room-style shower. There is no restaurant, but Saint-Geniez is only a five-minute drive away. Just across the courtyard is the breakfast room where a traditional buffet of croissants and coffee is served. Guests can then stroll around the two-hectare grounds, enjoy a dip in the heated outdoor pool or visit the spa, which has a sauna, hammam, whirlpool bath, jet baths and a variety of massages, facials and beauty treatments at discounted rates for hotel guests. The Château de la Falque is a great base for exploring pretty Aveyron villages such as Estaing, Sainte-Eulalie-d’Olt and Saint-Côme-d’Olt. The A75 autoroute is only 25 kilometres away, offering easy access to Millau and Montpellier.
Route de Prades, 12130 Saint-Geniez-d’Olt, Tel: (Fr) 5 65 62 45 60, www.chateau-la-falque.fr, Doubles from €90.
Hôtel Nice Excelsior
A city break in the south of France doesn’t necessarily mean parting with
a hefty slice of your holiday savings to stay somewhere that little bit special. During a trip to Nice, I discovered a gem of a boutique hotel that offered comfort and class in equal measure at an affordable price.
Set away from the busy centre on a serene and leafy backstreet, Hôtel Nice Excelsior is well-positioned; a 15-minute walk from the main square, Place Masséna, a 20-minute drive from the airport and right next to the railway station. It inhabits a handsome 1898 townhouse which, with its light stone walls and wrought-iron balconies, wouldn’t look out of place on a Parisian boulevard.
Inside, the refurbished interiors are playful and eclectic, and have a travel theme. In the lobby, black and white photos revealing Nice in its 1920s heyday adorn the walls, while postcard prints cover the carpet.
With 42 rooms, the hotel still feels small and intimate. Each of the four floors is decorated according to
a different mode of travel: train, plane, boat and motor car. My spacious room had a breezy seaside feel with its colourful postcard-style sketches covering the back wall, depicting Nice’s distinctive umbrella-strewn beachfront. The desk and chest of drawers both resembled a traditional travelling trunk.
Downstairs, at the back of an ivy-clad building, the secluded courtyard was a dream; shaded by a palm tree and the ochre walls of surrounding buildings, guests basked in the late-evening sunshine and enjoyed a cocktail from the outside bar. Next morning, I sampled the alfresco breakfast on the patio, helping myself to a buffet stacked with pastries, cooked options and fresh fruit salad that sustained me during my morning of sightseeing.
19 Avenue Durante, 06000 Nice
Tel: (Fr) 4 93 88 18 05, www.excelsiornice.com, Doubles from €95.
Hotels in the historic centre of Avignon usually have a futuristic price tag, but the rates at the Hôtel Boquier remain pleasingly retro. The simple rooms offer charming Provençal furniture with curtains and cushions adding a splash of colour to the neutral decor. Friendly hosts Sylvie and Pascal are on hand to advise on what to see and do in their beautiful city.
6 Rue du Portail Boquier, 84000 Avignon
Tel: (Fr) 4 90 82 34 43, www.hotel-boquier.com, Doubles from €55.
Hôtel B. Lodge
By all means don your haute couture to saunter around Saint-Tropez, but don’t feel inclined to shell out for a hotel with a designer price tag when the Hôtel B. Lodge is at your diposal. As if to prove the point, it is situated a few steps from the famous Hôtel Byblos, a favourite hangout for the rich and famous. Although the rooms are small, they offer a clean, black and white decor and an en suite shower. The Barock bar downstairs is a great place to sit and watch the fashionistas go by.
12 Rue de l’Aïoli, 83990 Saint-Tropez
Tel: (Fr) 4 94 97 06 57, www.hotel-b-lodge.comDoubles from €95.
A boutique hotel for less than £150 in Nice? Impossible you might think, but at the Hôtel Windsor anything is possible: airy rooms with frescoes or retro posters created by contemporary artists, a massage in the spa, dinner outside among bamboo and fig trees, or tinkling the bar piano while sipping a cocktail. Every year, the owners invite an artist to decorate the hallway and, with avant-garde styles let loose, anything really is possible.
11 Rue Dalpozzo, 06000 Nice, Tel: (Fr) 4 93 88 59 35, www.sawdays.co.uk, Doubles from €79.