This was very nearly a glowing report, and one that would therefore have surprised me, because I'm no great fan of Orient Express hotels...(for the low point on their management chart, see La Residencia in Deia, Mallorca).
But at this hotel, amazingly situated within the walls of the almost too Disneyesque citadel, things could not have started better. I got lost trying to get there of course, (and believe me it IS a tad difficult), but this could be either because my GPS system contains a tiny shortsighted buffoon, or more likely because I simply don't honestly trust a talking map. However, one call to reception, and not only did I find my way to the doors with only one more wrong turn, but the extraordinarily charming porter was standing there waiting for us. He parked the car in the locked park within the hotel garden, and was there with our bags by the time we'd signed in. The reception staff were helpful, funny, smart and relaxed.
Dinner at the swanky Barbacane restaurant was...well...not as good as they think it is, but perfectly acceptable. The service, again, was the high point, with only one waiter being overly up-himself, and the rest making up for it anyway.
Breakfast at the hotel's Saskia brasserie the next morning was fantastically good. A huge selection of stuff, and much as I hate buffets, they passed the impossible test of doing scrambled eggs so they don't turn into slush or bricks. Full marks, except, oddly enough, for the staff of young ladies who just don't 'get it' as far as service is concerned. Perhaps that's why it's self-service. Not a problem, then.
On our return trip, we had dinner at the Saskia too, and it was both excellent, and great value for money, Again, the staff were wonderful, albeit with a change of gender.
However....with Orient Express there's always a however...the next day, we ordered a ham and cheese sandwich from Room Service. After 20 minutes they called back to say they couldn't make a ham and cheese sandwich. I asked why. The answer was that they had no bread, no ham, and no cheese. In fact they couldn't make any sort of sandwich at all, apparently. This seemed so bizarre that I trekked up to reception to check with the unfailingly-charming and helpful folk there. They said that this was hardly acceptable. We agreed on this as a thought, and we checked out...again with the help of one of the most helpful porters I've ever encountered...and got a sandwich at the first motorway service station!
To complete this little report, the rooms we were allocated on both visits were spotless and perfectly situated overlooking the garden and the battlements. The decor is a bit dated, but all squeaky clean.
Just don't get the munchies in the afternoons, that's all!
- 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