Hotel Beaux Arts

The Joint

73-75 rue President
Edouard Herriot
69002 LYON
FRANCE

Cliff

Personally, I found nothing remarkable about this place. I was wiped out from the long drive and was just happy to have a place to lay down and sleep. I wasn’t tired enough to overlook the price though — this place ain’t cheap. But I guess that this chain is known for that.

Sarah

Pricier than I would have liked (€90/night), but the facilities were pretty nice. Decor isn’t all that great, but the location is outstanding. The room was HUGE by European standards (generous by American), the bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was clean and well arranged. Breakfast buffet the next morning was nicely varied in a quiet room. Only problem – there is no designated parking for guests. That meant that we had to park in one of the downtown public lots and pay overnight rates to get our car out the next day (which actually was about half as much as we thought it would be). Not terribly inconvenient, but a little frustrating when trying to actually get out of the car and into the hotel. Overall, it was a good experience.

Best Western Hotel du Lavarin

The Joint

1715 Chemin Du Lavarin Sud
Avignon, FR-84000, France


http://www.worldexecutive.com/directory/france/avignon/hotels/93529.html

Cliff

Forget how this hotel looks at the link above — it’s not accurate (trust me). Doesn’t the following point say it all?

A-1 Steak Sauce smells belong in a kitchen or more likely a dining room, not permanently embedded in your hotel hallway.

Other than the smell, it was OK, I guess. But really, the room and the building were so ugly that it put a damper on the rest of the stay. Oh, and getting a twin room when we specifically asked for a double was annoying too.

Parking seemed problematic, too. When we got back from the Couscouserie shortly before eleven o’clock, the lot was overflowing. I had to park the rental in a non-space (which naturally made me nervous — deductibles and such). We got an unplanned wake-up call from the front desk bright and early the next morning (shortly after 7) asking us to move the Beemer as it was blocking the tour bus (which had been taking up multiple spots in the too-small lot). They weren’t rude about it or anything, but still…poor facilities planning also contributes to a lackluster experience.

Sarah

I got Comfort Inn confused with Best Western. Comfort Inns have a reputation for trying to assimilate into the prevailing culture of the place in which they’re opening an establishment. From our experience in Avignon, I would have to assume that BW doesn’t share this philosophy. The place we stayed was depressing like a community college annex. The service was friendly and accomodating, but that didn’t make the steak sauce parfum in the corridors any less disturbing. The room was small-medium in size and clean and the bathroom was alright (except for the spatial relationship between the front of the toilet, the wall and the door).

Other than the weird smell and the unwelcome wake-up call, there wasn’t anything actively wrong with our experience here. And at least half of the blame belongs on my shoulders; I didn’t fully research the layout of Avignon, so I didn’t realize that the location wasn’t going to have as much personality as something inside the city wall. But the whole thing was just so overwhelmingly lacking. We paid roughly EUR90/night here and an extra charge for partaking of the ho-hum breakfast buffet. It didn’t seem worth it.

Hotel Les Cygnes

The Joint

8 Avenue Grande Rive
74500 Evian
France
http://www.hotellescygnes.com/

Cliff

This place was simply delightful. Located directly on the southern edge of Lake Geneva (in France, not Switzerland, though it’s quite close to the border). It’s a beautiful turn-of-the-century hotel with excellent – really excellent – dining facilities.

france_ascension_2006_001france_ascension_2006_002Our room was small and quaint. It was on the European first floor overlooking the terrasse, which must be simply great for outdoor dining literally on the lake (notice the clarity of the water). We were surprised at the ample and modern bathroom with large shower cabin.

For dinner, we ordered the fixed-prices menus at EUR 24 each. The seafood soup had a nice strong fish flavor to its broth, and the two large crayfish in my bowl helped make sure everything at the bottom of my soup bowl was ship-shape. My entrée was something brand new for me – ray in a garlic butter sauce. I had a little trouble with the chewiness of it until I remembered what rays have in common with sharks – cartilage. Once I figured that out, no problem.

My favorite part: the dessert. I had a Trio de Crème Brûlée, which meant three small cups of creamy honey-, mint-, and lavender-flavored custard under a crisp burnt sugar shell. It was garnished with candied orange peel and other sweets. It was as pretty as it was delicious. I’m sure a cup of coffee to go with it would have been outstanding, but I’d had a long day of driving and needed to guarantee a good night’s rest to prepare for the next day.

Sarah

I have to pat myself on the back – I really found something special here. The low season rate for a double is €70 and the high season is only €80. The staff was charming and patient. The accomodation was small, but really welcoming. We had a teeny-tiny balcony that opened to a stunning view of Lake Geneva. The thing that really tends to swing my decision of whether I like a hotel or not is the condition of the bathroom, and Les Cygnes has a great one. The room is well arranged and well lit and the shower is nice (tubs are available on request).

We also chose to eat there, having rolled into town a little late. As Cliff mentioned, we had the prix-fixe menus and I had the exact opposite of his choices. I started with a salad of asparagus, some kind of air-cured ham (sliced ultra-thin) and shavings of parmesan on a small bed of mixed greens. There was what tasted like a Dijon-mustard based dressing drizzled over the whole thing. It was unbelievably yummy. The way the flavors played-nice together was delightful. I nearly licked the plate. Next was the main course, fricaséed squab with prunes and bacon. I’d never had squab before, but it sort of reminded me of duck without the greasiness. It was in a richly-flavored sauce and came with a small side of roasted vegetables. Wonderful! Dessert was a slice of light-textured flourless chocolate cake with mango compote and mango sorbet. Again, the flavor combinations were intense and surprising and, ultimately, delicious.

This is easily the nicest place I have stayed in its price range. We were both so excited about this discovery that we’d love to plan a trip back to Les Cygnes when we can spend more time there.

Vital-Family-Landgasthof Stadt Wien

The Joint

Schmittenstraße 41
A-5700 Zell am See
Austria
Phone: +43-6542 / 7620 Fax: +43-6542 / 762-51
web: http://www.hotel-stadtwien.at/

Cliff

Stadt WienWhat a great place. We traveled here with Kim and Oscar (our pals from Regensburg). It was about 3.5 or 4 hours by car from Regensburg. Since the trip was organized through Oscar’s work, there was a great discount. But even without it, we had a great time (see our pictures for proof).

The best parts, for me, were the proximity to the slopes (skiing down the hill into the hotel parking lot is a nice perk) and the included breakfasts, dinners, and apres ski snacks. I would love to go back there again.

Sarah

Wow. What a fantastic place! So fabulous, we’ve been raving about it to friends ever since we went. The rooms are lovely and extremely Alpine in style. The service and amenities are extraordinary! As I wasn’t a skier when we went (neither was Kim), I got a facial and a massage while the guys were off on the slopes. The rate we paid was inclusive of breakfast and dinner, and both were exceptional. For breakfast, there’s a large buffet with fruits, yogurts, cereals, breads and eggs with several different kinds of juice, coffee and tea. Dinner replaces the buffet with a large salad bar, breads, cheese and spreads. The main meal is a choice of two or three main entrées. Everything was outstanding. Can’t recommend this place highly enough.

The Oyster Guest House

The Joint

96 Canterbury Rd.
Whitstable
Kent
CT5 4HF

phone: (01227) 276942

http://www.oysterguesthouse.co.uk/

Cliff

We came back to the Oyster in December 2005 after our initial visit in April 2003 — both times to visit Ian; this time also to visit Michelle.

The staff at the Oyster is just as nice as can be, and they were about half the price of some other B&Bs in Whitstable we checked on before booking our reservation.

Sarah

I really like the Oyster. The staff is incredibly sweet, the décor is fussy old-ladyish florals (which really fits) and the rooms have big beds which barely fit in the tiny rooms. It all adds up to a B&B full of charm and personality. And the price (for England) is great.

Easy Hotel Lexham Gardens

The Joint

14 Lexham Gardens
Kensington
London
W8 5JE
United Kingdom

http://www.easyhotel.co.uk/

Cliff

I couldn’t believe the room. I don’t think I read this FAQ before we got there (I bet Sarah did, though — she’s good like that). We were exhausted, so after the marvel of the dimensions wore off, we drifted off quickly. Definitely not for the claustrophobic. Still, it was cheap, and we needed sleep. And we heard not a peep (ok, sorry, couldn’t resist).

EasyHotel Room merely the curtain separates this shower from the john

Sarah

A fun concept, but only good in practice if you’re using the hotel solely as a place to sleep, clean up and lock up your stuff. This was the last night for us in England and we only needed to stay in London to get to Gatwick early in the morning – so it was perfect for us! You can get a room with a window, but it costs a little more. The bathroom was the smallest I’ve seen in Europe, but it’s so well arranged that it doesn’t seem so tiny (despite it saying so on the door). Very clean, pretty darn cheap and centrally located. And for how shockingly expensive London is, that’s high praise.

London House, Apartments Apart

The Joint

13 Craven Hill
London W2 3
U.K.

http://www.apartmentsapart.com/Europe/UK/London/Apartments/Detail/495

Cliff

We had a great time wtih Apartments Apart in Berlin in 2004 at a one-bedroom apartment set up for 4 guests. I was a little disappointed with the London House studio apartment – the results were better in Berlin. I was expecting a stove in our kitchenette, and the lack of one made cooking there impossible (we’d been hoping to cook a few meals in the apartment to save on restaurant expenses).

Note to self: get a clear definition of nebulous terms like “kitchenette” and “shower” (tub with a curtain? shower cabin? tub with a hose?) before you book. In this case, we got the shower all squared away before booking, but neglected to consider what might be considered a “kitchenette.” Got a little miffed about that.

Other than that, the room was a great deal and well-situated for our purposes.

Sarah

This company frustrates me. As Cliff stated, our experience with them in Berlin was outstanding – beautiful, in an interesting neighborhood and generously sized and appointed – a great value for four people. This place is something else entirely. Part hostel, part boarding house and part dumpy hotel. The desk staff was nice, but the room itself felt more like a cell. Ugly carpet, threadbare and coming up in one corner, tiny shower cabin with crappy water pressure and a small refrigerator, sink and microwave glorified into a “kitchenette.”

The location is in a very nice, quiet, safe-feeling neighborhood. It’s very close (10 minute walk) to a central tube station. That just made the condition of the accommodation all the more disappointing.

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