Note: I stayed at the Hotel d’Europe as a guest of the hotel, but all opinions are mine.
Have you ever seen Enchanted April? It’s an adorable movie about two ladies in post-WWI England who go to great lengths to rent a villa in Tuscany. It’s not on DVD for some bizarre reason, but you can watch it on YouTube in its entirety.
In any case, my favorite scene in the film is of their arrival. It’s nighttime, there’s a rainstorm, and they’re ushered into their rooms under great foreign-language chaos and practically locked in for the night. The next morning they open their shutters to find the most glorious scene before them – sun, warmth, and lush vegetation surrounding the villa of their dreams.
Now, the Hotel d’Europe is not in the Tuscan countryside; it’s safely nestled within the historic walls of Avignon, France. But after our harrowing trip the night before and our own chaotic arrival, I felt no less blessed to wake up in my stunning corner room, throw open the shutters and gaze down at the quintessential Provencal square, tree-lined and cobble-stoned, where a bistro was setting up their tables for the day’s lunch service.
Turning away from the soft morning light, I finally got a good look at the room. Its elegant bones were highlighted to great effect, and there were personal, almost eccentric touches that played with that elegance – a bird perch light fixture here, a framed photo set there.
The shower came with a heat-sensitive light in the shower head to tell you when your optimum temperature was reached, which was helpful but also kind of hilarious. There was a bath as well, and a little sitting area, and a floor-to-ceiling window that let in plenty of natural light without giving the neighbors a free show. And as you’d imagine, plush robes, slippers and a full collection of toiletries were provided.
On our way down to breakfast I noticed that the elegant/eccentric theme was carried throughout the hotel. For every muted tone and needlepoint pillow, there was an interesting painting or a hidden nook. And there were also delightfully whimsical paper cupcakes and lambs everywhere – the hotel decorates for each season, and these were left over from Easter.
Breakfast in the spacious dining room was delicious, and a full hot breakfast menu was available as well as the cold buffet, which is increasingly rare. I chose the poached eggs on toast, and they were done to yolky perfection. Oh, and the hot chocolate was served thick as sin, in its own carafe – one of my favorite decadent treats of all time.
Throughout our two-night stay, we often found ourselves lingering in the enclosed courtyard of the hotel. There are tables with cushioned seats set at discreet distances from one another, and wherever you sit, someone finds you and offers to bring you pretty much whatever you please – snacks, drinks, an ashtray, a full lunch. Although Avignon is not exactly a bustling metropolis, it nonetheless was a welcome retreat from sitting at a cafe in a public square. In fact, after a yummy dinner (consisting mostly of baked cheeses, naturally), we returned to the hotel and had a last glass of wine in the courtyard before retiring to our rooms like the true ladies we are.
Everyone from the car valet to the morning server was genuinely kind, but I’d like to thank Fernando in particular. For anything we asked of him, his answer was always a cheery yes. Even after we’d checked out and were waiting for the car to come around, he arranged for us to have to-go cups of coffee and a bag of croissants to take with us. I watched him with other guests as well, and he has this unique ability to make everyone feel like they’re his secret favorite.
If you’re in Avignon and have room for a splurge in your travel budget, I highly recommend the Hotel d’Europe. Our entire stay was flawless.
Hotel d’Europe is a member of Great Hotels of the World’s Luxury Collection. Rooms start from £156. For more information or to book, please visit http://www.ghotw.com/heurope or call +44 (0) 20 7380 3658.