In December 2010 The Daily Telegraph included Le Couvent d’Hérépian in an article entitled, ‘The 50 best hotels in the world’. Having just spent 7 nights there ourselves we can appreciate how such high acclaim was achieved. However, less than three years on and the magic is fading. At the end of the day it's simply about attention to detail and investment, both of which seem to be lacking of late. Located in the centre of the small and typically-French market village of Hérépian, within the Parc Naturel Régional du Haut-Languedoc, close to the coast and on the fringes of the Faugères wine appellation, Le Couvent is extremely well positioned for a lazy, relaxing break within the French countryside. The building itself has been sympathetically and stylishly renovated and there is most definitely a sense of history within its thick stone walls. Our suite, on the quiet garden side was large and featured a disappointingly basic bathroom and a comfortable sitting/dining area with kitchenette. There was also a full-length balcony. We ate superbly well in a number of local restaurants and also made good use of our suite's facilities with breakfast taken on the balcony; fresh croissants and pastries having been procured from the local bakery along with trays of fresh cherries from roadside vendors. It all sounds idyllic and it was certainly a really lovely break and we did sleep like babies. But this is not strictly a hotel and although Garrigae have done, and continue to do, a great job in reviving fascinating old buildings, they are not hoteliers and they do not run their property investment opportunities as hotels. Consequently certain elements will always be lacking. Whilst friendly and helpful, there is only one member of staff seemingly ever on duty, except perhaps at breakfast and of course there is a limit to the level of service that one front-of-house can provide. There is nobody available at check in to help with luggage for example, no room service, no one to pour you a drink (get your own from the honesty bar) no one to call when your room is missing basic elements like pillows, cutlery and towels, as ours was. Cleaning standards were just about acceptable but we were surprised and disappointed that our balcony had not been swept before our arrival, hence the discovery of the remains of a rotting dead bird. It became apparent after day two that it was necessary for us to specifically request that the balcony was included within the daily clean. I was surprised too that our glasses and dishes were not washed up and put away. Were we really expected to go out and buy tea towels and dishwashing liquid or tabs for the dishwasher? Curtains, paintwork and bathroom fittings are all beginning to show signs of age, as they obviously would after 3 years ‘commercial’ use and there was evidence of a serious damp problem in the communal sitting room. We enjoyed the small spa area in the moments we had it to ourselves – three is a crowd here! But we were very sad to see that despite being mid-June the outside pool was green and not in use. We questioned this and the next day the necessary chemicals were added, and so by day 4 of our stay it was ready for use.
And so to sum up; overall a little tired around the edges with staff simply too laid back and lacking management. Le Couvent was a long way short of the luxury established described on the Mr & Mrs Smith website, which we had used to book this break, but as we’d received a 50% discount on a promotional deal, we were quite forgiving. Had we forked out top dollar, I would have expected far more.
It is interesting to see that Mr & Mrs Smith are no longer promoting this property on their website, which says it all really.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A gentle refuge cradled in ancient stone in the heart of the Haut-Languedoc. For lovers of romantic and sensual contemplations. Thirteen luxurious suites & rooms offer a refined haven - a perfect getaway for two. A 17th century former convent where soul mates can retreat. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Couvent d`Herepian Hotel Herepian