Time of year: Mid-May 2016
Purpose of trip: This was our base for a surprise birthday treat for Nigel’s mum.
Why we chose this place: This was a treat – a really special occasion and this 5* boutique hotel was just the ticket.
How long we stayed: Just the one night.
Nigel’s accommodation: Our party had four rooms, each one being a ‘Superior’. I always find it amusing when a hotel gives such a grading to their lowest level room. But the rooms were beautiful. Each was individually decorated by someone with a real eye. Giving the 18th century building a completely up-to-the-minute feel could have been disastrous – but in this case, it was a triumph. I had a skull lamp and a yellow and black colour palette. Sounds gaudy, but as you can see in the photos, it was anything but.
Service: All staff were courteous, polite and helpful. Nothing was a problem – “Could you bring my coffee out to the courtyard?”, was met with a “Bien sur!”. Six of us were meeting for early evening drinks and when we arrived, they had set up a table perfectly and gave us fantastic attention. Really impossible to fault.
Location: The Clarance Hotel is in ‘old’ Lille – 300m from the main square and a ten euro taxi ride from Lille’e Eurostar train station. We walked everywhere once we arrived at the hotel.
Food: We didn’t eat at the hotel, but the menus looked of the highest quality. Our mini drinks reception did, however, comprise some fabulous champagne, wines, beers and gin and tonics.
What we paid: We paid 170 euros per room per night. Breakfast was not included.
Activities close by: Lille is a fabulous city to wander around. Lovely Flemish architecture (yes, Lille was part of Flanders before it fell to the French in 1668), grand (and petit) squares and great shops leave you searching every back street. We made our way to the cathedral to take a look, and I have to say, it’s the only disappointing thing we found in the city. A back end which is faux-Gothic and a front end which looks like it’s a ‘we’ve run out of money, let’s do it in concrete’ afterthought. But other than that, the city is a delight.
What empty nesters might really like about this place: Let’s face it. Staying 5* is a treat for most of us. And a night or two at the Clarance Hotel certainly feels just that. It’s a grown up place to indulge yourself and pretend, for a short while, that you are king of the château.
What empty nesters might not be so keen on: Hard to think of anything. Go on! Treat yourself!