We spent a week on the Hotel Barge Alegria which was excellent and this was to be our first night back on dry land. This also happens to be the night of our wedding anniversary and we could not have picked a better spot!
Reservation: booked a family room online for E363 a night. Despite some research online, I couldn't really figure what a family room is like and what are the differences with the other rooms. Since we are a family of 4 (2 adult, 1 child, 1 baby in baby cot), we wanted to be able to fit into the same room and this seems to allow that. Given the special occasion, I also ordered a bottle of wine and some red roses ahead of time through emails to the hotel.
Check-in: we got to Carcassonne early around 11am and it was before check-in time. While in the car to Carcassonne, Olivier from Alegria has already called the hotel twice to get one of their little cars to come and pick us up but we still wind up waiting 10 minutes or so before one showed up. When you stand at the entrance to the old city, you will see these little cars for both the Hotel de la Cite and Best Western going in and out and we wind up having to flag one down to get them to take us inside. It was mid-July and the city was teeming with tourists. This is the part that is probably the most troublesome and would really not know what to do if I were arriving in a rental car as the parking lots at the city's entrance appeared to be all full as well. Once in the lobby, we were informed that our room won't be ready for another couple of hours and we checked our luggages so that we can walk to the new part of Carcassonne to have lunch. The staff gave us a map and showed us how to follow the road out Port d'Aude, down to Rue Barbacane and then across Pont Vieux. From Pont Vieux, it has a nice view of the walled city. We wind up having lunch around Square Gambetta. While it was a walk with good view from the bridge, there really aren't much to see around Square Gambetta and the city doesn't seem to have much shops or pedestrians in that area. Once back at the hotel, we were informed that our room is ready and I think we have been upgraded though am not 100% sure.
Room: unlike some of the reviews here, we actually have a lovely room with nice view of the gardens and Chateau Comtal! Just the view itself was worth the price of the room and I can probably sit there all day with a glass of wine in my hand! The bottle of wine, roses and the baby cot are all there. Our room was on the top floor of the Hotel de la Cite wing and it does require one to take a couple of stairs or switch elevator. If I were to come back, I think the best rooms are in this wing but one floor down as they seem to have a balcony that allows one to sit outside. The Carcas wing is fronted by the garden but I am not sure if the view will be as open and dramatic.
Garden: the hotel has a very nice garden that would be perfect for a drink to watch the sun sets. If one walks all the one to the end (towards Chateau Comtal), there is a bench that is very photogenic overlooking the lower city. We didn't have time to have a drink but it would certainly be on our list of to-do the next time we are here. We did hear music blasting from the garden though we are not sure if it is the sound system or rehearsals from the music festival.
Air-con: many of the other reviews pointed out problems with the air-conditioning system. It was weak in our room especially since it was July and we were on the top floor. But even though it was weak, we didn't feel uncomfortable. It wasn't really hot in the room but rather that it doesn't feel cool either.
Barbacane: to celebrate our wedding anniversary, we reserved for dinner at the Barbacane. It was to be our first Michelin star meal of the trip. Won't go into details of the dishes but overall, we find the food to be good though not memorable. The best surprise was the wine recommended by the sommelier - a 2004 Chateau La Voulte Gasparets which we very much enjoyed. And the sun set (as seen in the photo) is to die for!
Breakfast: we didn't have breakfast at the hotel since we find it over-priced (as are most other hotels on this trip). We wind up walking around the city and have nutella crepe instead!
Service: as we will be taking a train to Toulouse the next morning, we asked the hotel to book us a taxi the next day to the train station. This is the part where the service really came through. After a quick and efficient check-out, the little car took us to the entrance of the old city where the taxi is waiting. Not only is the taxi there, it was also available with two child seats for my daughters. Nice that they anticipated this and helped us arrange ahead of time!
Carcassonne: we very much enjoyed the city and our daughters especially so! In July, the old city is flooded with tourists and one will have a hard time trying to get a picture without one in the frame. Given the amount of traffic, I would not recommend using this as a base to explore the region. I would recommend spending a night here though to explore the walled city around sunset or early in the morning before all the tourists show up. It is a magical place exploring the ramparts when no one else is around!
Summary: solid hotel with nice rooms and views. Getting in and out can be a problem though since the car service can be over-whelmed with requests. Despite this, would come back in a heart beat! Will get a room with balcony next time.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Standing between two historic landmarks, the Roman Chateau Comtal and the Gothic Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, the Hotel de la Cite is set in its own glorious gardens. With its solid stone walls, wood paneling and stained-glass windows, the Hotel offers luxurious hospitality and award winning cuisine in its two restaurants. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- De La Cite Hotel
- De La Cite Carcassonne