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Room Report: Hotel du Midi Montpellier, France

Hotel lobby
Hotel lobby
Grand Hotel du Midi

Arrival Experience: Just steps from Montpellier's famous Place de la Comedie square, this hotel is as good as it gets for tourists to this beautiful southern of France. It is a university town and buzzes with the energy of tens of thousands of students, and this hotel's city center location means that the best of the city's shopping, dining, and sightseeing is within a few blocks of the hotel. In fact, the Café du Theatre, Montpellier's celebrated spot to see and be seen especially in the evening hours is just steps away. As the square fills up with passersby, musicians, and business people emptying from their offices, it is worth sipping a local wine and watching the action. Back inside the hotel, the historic façade hides a clever, contemporary interior that begins with the front desk that is a colorful spot staffed with extremely friendly locals. They are happy to give directions throughout the area and are also proud of their hotel's legendary status in town.

Dining: Most rates include breakfast, which is served in a charming space off the lobby offering the typical French spread of baguettes, numerous types of cheese, fruit and yogurt, a selection of pastries, and hard-boiled eggs. Strong coffee, Evian bottled water, and fruit juices round out the offering. No other meals are served at the hotel, but there are many delicious restaurants within close proximity to the hotel including Chez Boris along the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. A short taxi ride away will take guests to the Folia restaurant at the Chateau de Flaugergues, which is a beautiful and historically preserved chateau with a charming courtyard restaurant worth visiting.

Accommodations: The hotel is in the midst of renovations as it rebrands and lifts its status from a French three star to a French four star property. In the meantime, all guest rooms boast soft carpeting, firm beds underneath powerful air conditioning units (self-controlled), small desks with free wireless high speed Internet, and flat-screen cable TVs. Most rooms face the streets on either side of the building, but the bests units are those with glimpses of the Place de la Comedie. Bathrooms are large with scented toiletries and hair dryers, and separate water closets in many rooms provide a signature French touch. Phones, refrigerators, and windows that open are in all rooms. The décor is a blend of old and new with modern light fixtures in many rooms that mimic the minimalist design of the public areas. With the redesign of the hotel, all rooms will soon sport a fresh look.

Conclusion: There is no health club or gym here, but in the city center these are difficult to find. Many hotels (like the Suite Novotel) in the newer part of town have swimming pools, spas, and fitness areas. An Internet-equipped computer off the lobby area is available free of charge to guests. The main square outside the hotel houses the city's Opera Comedie, which is a smaller version of the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris. Montpellier is one of France's hidden gems nestled in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, which is the largest producer of French wine (yes, most people think the Gironde region where Bordeaux is located is the biggest, but it is not). This charming area has a compact town center that is packed with café-lined squares and small shops that could occupy a tourist for days.