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Room Report: Le Grand Hotel de Sete, Sete, France

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Arrival Experience: The elegant Grand Hotel de Sete is one of the first things you see when approaching the charming portside town of Sete just a few miles from Montpellier. It sits on the edge of the canal boasting premium views of the water for the lucky few who secure those front-facing rooms. Inside, the staff is welcoming and proud to be one of Sete's finest. They speak English well and hand over the Old World metal keys while pointing guests to the elevator or staircase.

Dining: The restaurant sits in the hotel's inner courtyard, which is an atrium onto which the hallways circulate from the several floors above. This garden-style setting features conversation and lounge areas in addition to several restaurant tables for meals. Breakfast, included in most rates, is served here and includes a delicious assortment of fresh fruit, several regional cheeses, pastries, crusty French bread, cereal, yogurt, and local jams and honeys. A lovely dinner menu is also on offer and features tempting seafood choices from the region.

Accommodations: Guest rooms vary in style, but all feature modern parquet floors and comfortable beds topped with firm mattresses. Wrought iron headboards and regional artwork make a nice first impression, and Americans will be pleased to find air conditioning units in all. Rooms wrap around the atrium of the hotel, and the front-facing rooms are best. All have minibars, flat-screen cable TVs, bedside lighting, writing desks with free wireless high speed Internet, and bathrooms with excellent lighting and wall-mounted toiletries. Some rooms feature more modern décor with leather side chairs and more fanciful fabrics. Refurbishment to the same standard is coming to all guest rooms soon.

Conclusion: The hotel does not proclaim to be a five-star gem, but its services and location could prove otherwise. Basic meeting facilities are in place for small groups. Recreational facilities are kept to a minimum, but there is ample activity outside the front door. From canal cruises aboard narrated boats to the Petit Train tour company that operates both here and in Montpellier, there are endless opportunities for exploring the area. Most guests love hopping over to the market just a few blocks down to load up on good deals on fashion, cooking ware, and other accessories. The fact that hotel guests get to mingle with locals shopping for fresh produce and ingredients is a huge highlight for American visitors. There is no more substantial option in town than the Grand Hotel and upcoming refurbishments to equalize all rooms will surely make this an even more high-profile destination.

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