Often considered the birthplace of Impressionism, many a famous French artist has walked the cobbled streets of this scenic seaside town in Normandy. Discover the source of their inspiration at one of these hotels in Honfleur.
An idyllic scene plays out in Honfleur, a French medieval harbour town in Normandy where the River Seine flows into the English Channel. Traditional sailboats bob and sway in the port, where the reflections of tall narrow houses squeezed shoulder to shoulder swirl in the water. And the hospitality in this part of France is just as charming. Norman-style guesthouses, elegant estates and contemporary-chic apartments feature among our best-loved hotels in Honfleur.
You won’t want to skip a stay at A l’École Buissonnière – French for “skipping school” – a beautifully restored Norman-style guesthouse in the heart of Honfleur. The former school for girls wraps around a rustic country garden courtyard, where you can enjoy an organic breakfast of crêpes, cold cuts and crusty French bread. Exposed beams, brickwork and typical red-and-white plaid blankets and cushions add character to the rooms – some have private sundecks – while creeping plants climb the brick walls outside.
Enter through discreet double doors on Place Sainte-Catherine into Mansion Victorine, once the home of an 18th-century ship owner. Bedside French windows overlook sweet storefronts from the two guest rooms, while the loft and duplex apartment each feature a kitchen and plenty of space to spread out. Saunter down the cobbled streets to the picturesque port, or head towards the River Seine estuary to explore the curious Jardin des Personnalités.
Dine on local specialities such as Normandy mussels cooked with camembert cheese and a creamy white wine sauce, or succulent seafood spreads, from the comfort of your apartment at La Villa des Souhaits, owned by the same couple who run l’Alcyone restaurant next door. The open-plan studio apartments are modern with quirky interiors, kitchenettes and large French windows overlooking Honfleur’s jumble of rooftops. It’s super value for money and just steps from the old port.
La Ferme Saint Siméon gained a loyal following among a group of young artists in the mid-1800s – among them Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet – seduced by the serene scenes of the Seine and original innkeeper Mother Toutain’s cooking. Today, immaculately dressed staff stride between pom-pom hydrangea bushes and neatly clipped hedgerows, champagne flutes in hand, to timber-studded pavilions and thatched cottages. Some rooms have balconies overlooking apple orchards, while others boast white marble bathrooms and Venetian crystal chandeliers. Local artist Gervaise teaches painting in the garden, so you can capture the scenes using your talents.
This American-style, budget-friendly motel features a well-stocked bar and 27 ensuite rooms, some with private balconies overlooking Port de Normandie and all with sitting areas, minibars and flat-screen TVs. Alternatively, there’s a cosy cottage for larger parties. Do some shopping at the nearby Honfleur Normandy Outlet’s designer boutiques, or cycle into the historic centre on one of the motel’s rental bikes.
Nature seems to sprout from every crack and crevice in the sun-dappled courtyard of this restored Augustinian convent, now a charming guesthouse. Rooms have a French period parlour feel with contemporary-chic decor – think beautiful white and grey beams, jewel-hued velvet pillows and throws, and exposed stone walls. Enjoy cheese boards and charcuterie around the hearth in the intimate dining room, or have the hotel help you plan and pack for a picnic bike ride.
Set on more than 5ha (12 acres) of flower-covered grounds and wooded parks along the Côte de Grâce, Domaine du Clos Fleuri offers beachside luxury just five minutes from the centre of Honfleur. Its spa features an indoor heated pool, a sauna, a steam room and a mosaic hammam, along with tempting treatments using exotic ingredients. All elegantly appointed rooms boast sweeping sea views, while coastal cottages offer a home-from-home feeling. Satisfy your sweet tooth at breakfast with home-made cakes, crêpes and freshly baked pain au chocolat before wandering down to the beach.
Once the home of Honfleur-born poet and novelist Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, this boutique hotel retains all of its 18th-century charm. Beautiful wisteria adorns large French windows that peek out from the red-brick pavilion, housing a private suite that opens out onto a quiet cobbled courtyard. The other rooms feature floorboards, wood panelling and elegant tiled bathrooms, while a spell-binding spa awaits you in the vaulted cellar, where light filters through stained-glass windows onto a hot tub set in the stone parquet floor.
These recommendations were updated on December 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.