You Make a Living from What You Get - But You Make a Life from What You Give

giovedì 15 novembre 2012


A last minute decision to go away for the long weekend to visit the Carmargue.  A mad dash for a not too expensive hotel.  A quick consultation on the internet and a blind booking made in Arles.  Hopes not that high and lots of caustic comments about booking on the hop.  Six hours later and we rumbled into the centre of Arles following the signs to the Hotel Arlatan which had been described as a three star Hotel De Charme, in the heart of the historic part of Arles and just a two minute walk from the Rhone River. 

As we had booked late and then asked to change the dates our 100 euro a night triple room had been changed to a suite at a supplement of 10 euros extra a night.  On arrival we were duly escorted up to the fourth floor, miles away from the rest of the hotel, to a small but cosy garrett room with adjoining sitting room whose sofa turned into our extra bed looking onto a charming (so they were telling the truth) terrace and beyond that red roof tops and winding streets of the city.

At first we were disappointed.  No sign of the long French windows evident in the photographs on-line, a rather basic decorating style, a few licks of paint perhaps needed and much muttering of 'I told you so', not to mention a faint undefinable, slightly musty smell.   On the plus side the rooms were extremely clean and the bathroom more than ok.   It was really quiet with no outside noises and when it got cold outside on Saturday afternoon with torrential rain our garrett room became very cosy.  

We slept fantastically well and whilst we were perhaps the poor relations up in the attic, it was well worth the price.  There was also the rest of the hotel, filled with antique furniture, to be enjoyed.  Imbued with a sense of old French glamour befitting fifteenth century basilica whose thick stone walls and frescoed ceilings hint at its historic past.

Breakfast was served in a beautiful room overlooking a neat courtyard containing two of the biggest turtles who occasionally raised their heads in their pond as if to say 'we've seen it all before'.  The three of us sat at our round table and made endless trips to the buffet table piled high with delicious food waiting to tempt us.  What better than Fromage Frais drowned in mandarin jam and fresh pain au chocolat accompanied by café au lait?

It was too cold to swim on our trip but there is a heated pool, which we walked round to check it out, before skipping out to fetch the car from the hotel's artistic garage (it is sometimes used as a venue for exhibitions during the Arles photographic festival) and head towards the grassy waterways of the Carmargue.

All in all we will definitely be going back and we might even ask for the same room which in the end with a helping hand of a cedar candle turned out to be just what we wanted.  The staff were exceptionally helpful and kind all throughout our stay.  A word of warning for the technologically addicted, the Wi-Fi only works downstairs but it does mean that emails get a rest and you also get to mix with other guests even if you are all busy staring at individual screens and tap tap taping away. 


Hotel Arlatan
26 Rue Sauvage
13200, Arles
Tel. +33 (0) 490935666
Doubles from euro 80 a night off-season

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