The old quarter and medieval heart of the southern French city of Montpellier, set just back from the Mediterranean, reveals converted historic manor houses and ivy-clad places to stay, bookable on Culture Trip.
Delve into central Montpellier and you’ll find yourself in Écusson, the city’s fascinating ancient heart. Once home to the Crown of Aragon in the 13th century, much of its rich history is still on display, epitomised in the elegant Cathédrale Saint-Pierre. Get lost among the labyrinth of medieval lanes, people-watch on Place de la Comédie and dip into the thriving food scene at numerous excellent restaurants. But first, book yourself into one of these top Écusson hotels.
Hotel du Parc-Montpellier
4.5/5 (101 Reviews)
Courtesy of Hôtel du Parc-Montpellier / Hotels.com
Located just outside the city’s historic centre – between the Beaux-Arts and Boutonnet districts – a stay at this 18th-century manor house puts you within easy walking distance of much of Écusson. You can start the day with breakfast on the leafy summer terrace and return to evening drinks here, too. When you’re ready to turn in, guest rooms combine classical French elegance with modern comforts.
This charming ivy-clad hotel is set in the city’s La Lironde neighbourhood, just across the Lez River from Écusson. It stands out for its wonderfully lush park setting, dotted with contemporary sculptures and traditional busts. Inside is a playful blend of classical and retro flourishes, continuing to the five uniquely styled guest rooms that feature the likes of 1920s furniture and works by street artists. Dining channels the spirit of a Parisian bistro, with a daily changing menu and a lovely sun-dappled terrace.
If you’ve an eye for contemporary design, you should book a stay at this attention-grabbing slice of modern architecture. Swish 21st-century styling continues inside, though is toned down for the guest rooms where comfort takes priority. A breakfast buffet is full of fresh and seasonal produce, getting you ready for the 10-minute stroll to the historic heart of Écusson.
One of the swankier stays in town, the upscale credentials of Hotel Oceania Le Metropole Montpellier are writ large on its handsomely ornate facade. Historically, it’s attracted such stellar guests as Marcel Marceau and Ella Fitzgerald. A huge renovation restored its ornate 18th-century interiors with a touch of exoticism and thoroughly modernised its guest rooms in a smart and soothing style. A garden swimming pool and an indoor spa make lingering at the hotel a must when you’re not out exploring Écusson.
Baudon de Mauny is a stunning boutique guesthouse whose 10 rooms feature a stylish blend of contemporary design features and period details. The 19th-century building has been converted and fully renovated to ensure the most comfortable of stays, while still retaining the original high ceilings, striking fireplaces and stone facade. The modern furniture and contemporary artworks contrast with the historic features of the former hôtel particulier to great effect. The guesthouse is ideally located for you to explore the winding streets of Écusson and discover the best of what this ancient area of the city has to offer.
IDA Chambre d’Hôtes is situated just a couple of roads back from the quarter’s main shopping avenue, on one of the narrow streets that are so typical of the ancient area of Écusson. The central location is great if you want to check out some of Montpellier’s unique shops and one-off boutiques while you’re here. The four rooms have recently been completely renovated and are kitted out with everything you could need. The decor is stylish and elegant, and the private balcony is the perfect place to have your petit-déjeuner in the Montpellier sunshine.
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Just on the border of Écusson is Hotel Ulysse, the charming three-star hotel where you will receive the warmest of welcomes. Rooms are clean, spacious and fully equipped with all the essentials. The hotel’s large and luminous dining room is where the extensive breakfast buffet is served, but if it’s warm outside, make the most of Ulysse’s outdoor terrace. Hotel Ulysse is a little further out from the Place de la Comédie, the beating heart of Écusson, but it is still within walking distance of all the sights. Here, you can be assured of a good (and uninterrupted) night’s sleep.
You’ll be able to spot the Hotel du Palais from the vintage tables and chairs set up underneath the hotel’s welcoming candy-striped awning. The wrought-iron balconies and old stone facade ooze an old-world charm that continues once you step through the front door. Each of the 26 fully equipped rooms is decorated with mismatched vintage furniture, and artworks depicting the local area adorn the walls. The charming hotel is just around the corner from Montpellier’s own Arc de Triomphe and the picturesque Jardins du Peyrou – check them out while you’re here.
Hotel d’Aragon is a three-star boutique hotel situated in the very heart of Écusson. Just a stone’s throw from the central Place de la Comédie, from where the winding streets of the old town spiral outwards, Hotel d’Aragon is an ideal place to stay if you want to just get up and go – you’ll be in the epicentre of the city’s goings-on. However, you needn’t worry about the noise of the city disrupting your stay – all rooms are soundproofed to ensure you have a perfect night’s sleep. Rooms come with all the necessities and a private bathroom. You can upgrade to a Privilège room for the jet shower.
Montpellier’s Royal Hotel is just a couple of minutes’ walk away from all of the city’s main attractions, including the Place de la Comédie, the Musée Fabre and the impressive Corum. The reception is open 24 hours a day, so you can be sure of a warm welcome no matter the time of your arrival. The hotel is stylishly decorated from top to bottom, and the rooms are cosy. Enjoy the buffet-style continental breakfast and, once you’ve had your fill, you need only step out of the front door to be in the heart of the old town of Écusson.
You’ll find this charming three-star design hotel just on the other side of the beautiful Jardins du Peyrou. The 18 stylish rooms, housed in a converted 19th-century mansion, are all uniquely and elegantly decorated. The shaded garden to the rear of the hotel is a calm oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city and makes a perfect spot to enjoy the Hotel des Arceaux’s breakfast, served until midday. Look out for the organic food and artisan craft market of the same name that sets up shop just in front of the hotel on Tuesdays and Saturdays.