There’s no denying that this Hilton in the South of France commands the most spectacular views of the medieval city of Carcassonne. Here’s what you can expect from a stay at one of the area’s newest hotels.
Welcome and Rooms
From the moment of my arrival, I am on the receiving end of the warmest of welcomes. Freshly baked cookies and sincere greetings from the multilingual reception staff await. Stylish and polished throughout, I make my way along the tasteful black-and-white themed interior to the third and top floor of bedrooms. Inside, more beautiful monochrome, and a room fully equipped with king-size bed, seating area, spacious bathroom, minibar, and – most importantly – what can only be described as THE View.
You will forgive me for thinking, on this first night, that I had the best view of the entire city. I was soon to realise that there was just one spot in which this spectacular outlook could be improved, and this happens as I am transferred to the King Balcony Suite. Classically designed living and sleeping quarters and an enormous bathroom (with a suitably enormous free-standing bath – one of my favourite features of the suite!) enjoy direct and breath-taking views of the castle and walls of the Cité Médiéval. You can take them in from the comfortable sofa, the lavishly-sized bed, or the sun-trapped balcony. It is 538 square feet (50 square meters) of weekend perfection.
The hotel is perfectly situated between the two “halves” of Carcassonne. Looking East out over the river, it is a five minute walk to the walled, medieval city, and all the historical attractions it has to offer, including, of course, the castle and ramparts. To the West of the hotel lies the old city of Carcassonne, a beautifully typically French town of squares lined with tables and chairs ready for summer diners, museums, galleries, bars, and restaurants. Heading South takes one along the Aude, along which you will find parkland and ever-changing viewpoints at which to gaze in awe at the largest medieval town in Europe.
The station, Gare de Carcassonne, is a ten-minute walk away, providing links to the nearby city of Toulouse (an hour’s train ride away) or neighbouring towns and villages, which are also well worth a visit.
Food and Drink
The bar area does not disappoint. Leaving my room for a drink on my first nights’ stay, I am immediately impressed by the continuation of the stylish theme of the hotel, and the uniqueness of the space. Couple this with – yes you guessed it – That View, and you will be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant space in which to consume delicious and reasonably priced local wine. The bar tender hands me a sweet white wine and I survey the grounds outside, wondering whom I can rope into playing giant chess with me in the morning. A grand piano sits expectantly; it is difficult to resist the temptation to see if I can remember any of my childhood lessons, but there are other guests at the bar, so I spare their ears from my attempts.
Whilst plans for a restaurant in the hotel are underway – and it will sit in a prime spot, at the river – it is not yet open, but a range of food is served at the bar. Breakfast is also taken in this area and what a treat it is: champagne and fresh fruit juices, freshly baked pastries and bread, and a large selection of cooked items alongside fruit, meats, and cheese. Special dietary requirements are catered to, and I note with glee that there are both soya milks and yoghurts available. Vegan options are easy and plentiful.
Other Facilities: Spa and Pool
Whilst I do not book a treatment in the spa, it is my priority on the Saturday afternoon to visit the pool. It is no coincidence that the room chosen for this is lined with South-West-facing castle-gazing windows, and they are the perfect backdrop when soaking up the quiet and calming ambience which surrounds me as I settle into a comfortable lounger. The water is a pleasant temperature, the lighting sensual and relaxing, and the ever-changing angles of the castle as I traverse the length of the pool never fail take my breath away. Complimentary towels are plentiful, and the changing rooms are as spotlessly clean as the rest of the hotel.
All in all, Doubletree by Hilton Carcassonne more than lives up to its five star rating. I have no doubt that, whilst this was my first visit, it will not be the last.
Visit the hotel’s website to see available rooms and book.