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“Beautiful setting, disappointing cuisine”
3 of 5 bubbles Review of La Reserve

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La Reserve
Ranked #6 of 25 Hotels in Albi
Certificate of Excellence
Albi, France
Level Contributor
41 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Beautiful setting, disappointing cuisine”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 August 2010

La Reserve is a venerable establishment in Albi on the banks of the River Tarn, right off the main road that leads to Cordes-sur-Ciel, another tourist draw. Now that Albi has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site, more people are bound to visit.


We celebrated our 20th anniversary dinner there and were quite disappointed. The setting is pleasant. On a summer evening, everyone was dining at tables on the terrace near the pretty swimming pool, overlooking a lawn and the river.

As one other reviewer here mentions, the welcome at the front desk was rather formal and chilly, though the young serving staff in the dining room were pleasant, friendly and capable. We both ordered the 45 prix fixe dinner. While we waited, I had a glass of champagne--which later turned out to cost 14 euros! That's a bit steep for this part of the world!

The meal itself was quite disappointing. Standard, bourgeous French hotel food.

They try to be modern and innovative--but it just didn't work.

The amuse gueule, a puré of gazpachio, lacked élan and had a metalic taste.
My husband started with carpaccio of duck --which he didn't enjoy at all. I ordered the melon with a mint granita. Original idea, but the granita tasted too much like granules of frozen toothpaste!

We both had fish to follow--dorade (bream) and bar. Mine came with polenta--which is rarely found on menus here--but it poorly made and served in one of those cookie-cutter round shapes so beloved of a certain tired style of French cooking. The ratatouille that accompanied my husband's fish tasted like it had been poured from a jar.

The fish was okay--just bland & dull. It was so processed (no head, bones, tail) that we wondered if they had really been prepared in the kitchen--or if they came out of some packet.
Although it was a 45 euro menu (which is fairly high for the Tarn), no salad, just a choice of cheese or dessert. The cheese was not a cheese board, but a piece of chevre, roquefort and brebis (we think). No one told us. Albi is close to the caves de roquefort and it is terrible to see a local restaurant serve 2nd class roquefort. Even some supermarket roqueforts taste better than what they served. We make fromage du chevre ourselves, and were not impressed with the quality of their offering--more supermarket fare?

My dessert was a hot chocolate soufflé filled with fruit (cherries?), which may have been anoher attempt at originality, but turned out icky.

The only wine by glass is local Gaillac--which can be good. However the first white was so awful I had no qualm returning it. They kindly changed it, but the second was barely better. This is perplexing, since good white Gaillacs are not hard to find! My husband fared better with the red.

What was good? The bread rolls and the service!
If you're a foodie, pass this place by....

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank DiscerningSoul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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162 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
NY/Westport/Provence
Level Contributor
330 reviews
114 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 427 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 April 2010

I must be in France every 2/3 months and I am based in Provence. My travels take me from one end of the South (Nice) to the other cote (Biarritz). And between?So many wonderful regions and experiences. I thought I'd share some of my favorites as I've stayed at so many hotels and sampled from 3* Restaurants down to the popular local bistro in many towns between both coasts.

I was looking forward to La Reserve after a hard day of work in Touluse and the weekend approaching. I have to admit that it was one big disappointment after another. For a R&C of 4/5*, it doesn't begin to approach any other other 'High end' hotel along the route between Nice and Biarritz and yet the attitude and prices are certainly in keeping with the true 'luxe' hotes. The rooms are clean but they truly need a major renovarion for the prices they charge. It was circa luxe 1970s. The grounds were rather austere and even our balcony looked out onto a sort of garden..field..or something....with a river behind it. Just not good vibes. The formality of the front desk was not something I was accustonmed to in the more relaxed 'France Meridonale'. Certainly walking in wearing jeans instead of the Armani suit I had prepared for dinner was found to be looked down on. And on what basis? This is a hotel that is coasting on its years of 'comme il faut' from 20-30 years ago. It jist felt...worn and cold. Of course the rooms have decent beds, bathrooms and such...but everything feels worn. The restaurant of which we had a demi-pension fared no better. Wehad just left 3* chef Michael Guerand where his easy going stlye fills his amazing 3 star restaurant and hotel. The restaurant at 'La Reserve' was cold, way too formal with a classic French menu that seems to have ignored al the wonderful discoveries that chefs like Savoy, Bras, Cagna and Trama have incoporated into the world of today. Stodgy and decent but nothing specisl meal. This hotle needs a number of adjustments: attitude towards guests, full renovation of the bedrooms and main meeting areas and most...a new chef and a new dining room. La Reserve simply does not belong in the category that it is still listed. Pass it by and head for Micjel Trama in Puymirol!

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank LeTerrible
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Odessa, Ukraine
Level Contributor
1,055 reviews
317 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1,543 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 July 2008

"La Reserve" is a lovely 3 - 4 star country side hotel with great location close to Albi and directly on the Tarn river. The property itself is split between two houses, the more conservative main building and the more modern (parket, lounge style) rooms in the side house (anyway the bathrooms need urgent renovation). La Reserve is ideal for exploring the area in the morning and resting at the pool under old trees with view to the river in the afternoon.

The breakfast - for France - is totally okay and comprises of everything you really need (even eggs - which is a lot for France!).

We very much enjoyed the dinner at La Reserve. After the Michelin 1* restaurant in Albi (avoid!) here we got kind of country side kitchen, more down to earth and more tasty!

Still the hotel has some problems and needs improvement:
1.) Internet (WiFi) not really working
2.) They didn't find our reservation on arrival (luckily they had rooms available)

Over all we had a very nice and relaxing stay.

  • Stayed July 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank HONkiev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
125 reviews
85 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 298 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 July 2008

Driving to the hotel from Albi we were very concerned that it would be too close to the town, but on arrival we were not disappointed at all with the location on the river. Room itself was very comfortable with a full river view and balcony. Breakfast, as is often the case, was uninspiring but adequate. Dinner somewhat better on the two occasions we dined in, but we found much better food quality in neighboring towns.
Albi is actually quite an interesting town and the hotel has a sister property in the town where guest cars can be parked.
Overall a comfortable stay in pleasant surroundings.

  • Stayed June 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank Richard D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
United Kingdom
Level Contributor
162 reviews
162 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 643 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 June 2006

Of the eleven hotels we stayed at on a recent driving tour (six of them Relais and Chateaux affiliates), La Reserve in Albi was the best. And we never planned to stay there at all! A hotel in Spain disappointed us so we rang La Reserve on spec. The R&C brochure said that the Queen Mother had once stayed there so we rather feared a twee, chintzy sort place. Instead, we got a lovely, ultra-modern room (No.12) for two nights at 200 Euros per night. Recently remodelled, the room offered a huge bed, electric shutters, LCD TV, seating area, clever lighting and a very modern bathroom, with walk-in shower etc etc. The room was heavily designed and thought out - it was seductive yet practical. While not quite up to Four Seasons or Chewton Glen levels of luxury, this was really refreshing for France, a hotel that never stands still, always updates and reinvents itself. While the lack of a spa might bother some (not us) this is a truly relaxing retreat, on the edge of Albi, a large, lovely university city with a staggering cathedral, impressive formal garden and the Toulouse-Lautrec museum. Good bistro restaurants, too.

The hotel occupies a stretch of Tarn riverbank and from the sun loungers by the spacious pool you can gaze down the lawn and watch herons, kites and kingfishers. The garden is attractive without being overworked and manicured. The restaurant has a large stained glass window to catch the evening sun and a fireplace for the winter. Glassware and place settings are immaculate.

The cuisine does not rate a star by Michelin and, in a way, that might be for the good - it is slightly simpler and lighter and always delicious. They did a witty creme brulee of fois gras and perfect roast pigeon. Dinners might cost 55 Euros plus drinks. Service was relaxed yet well paced. Breakfast (17 Euros) was not up to this level and you might do better sitting in a cafe in town, a five minute drive away.

For us, La Reserve was an unexpected treat, managed with real charm and style. I recommend it unreservedly.

  • Stayed June 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank Pausanias
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Reserve

Property: La Reserve
Address: Route de Cordes, 81000, Albi, France
Phone Number:
Region: France > Occitanie > Tarn > Albi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Luxury Hotel in Albi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — La Reserve 5*
Number of rooms: 28
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
La Reserve Albi

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