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Memorable Hotels FAQ's

Q Which English-language hotel guides to France are truly independent?

A In other words, which guides have no financial link – direct or indirect – with their hotels? According to this definition, the split seems to be as follows:

INDEPENDENT
Michelin Red Book (published annually)
Charming Small Hotels (last published 2005)
Memorable Hotel Guide (launched 2009, updated monthly)

NOT INDEPENDENT
The rest. These ‘guides’ are really just another marketing tool which hotels use to sell their rooms.

Q What makes an hotel memorable?

A It could be its location, character or appointments - or its remarkable value for money. Ideally, it will be a combination of all four. Above all, however, it will have a memorable personality which filters through from its owner-managers.

Q Why must Memorable Hotels have a minimum of 6 bedrooms?

A Hotels with very few rooms are unlikely to generate enough customer feedback. Furthermore, any review of smaller establishments would have to embrace Chambres d’Hôtes (French B & Bs). This is a formula that just doesn’t appeal to everyone; often run by grasping expats, they lack the buzz of a busy, uncompromisingly French hotel-restaurant which is often at the heart of its local community.

Q Have you checked every bedroom?

A Don’t be daft. Of course I haven’t; but I have slept in hundreds of them and sniffed around a good many more. If a memorable hotel has a few duff rooms, I try to steer you away from them in the accompanying text. 2 star (and some 3 star) hotel rooms in France tend to be small so, if space is important to you, book the best room you can afford.

Q Why so much divergence in your quoted room rates?

A Part of the charm of these hotels is that rarely are two rooms the same. Hence room prices tend to vary according to their size and aspect. As a steer, prices from the hotel’s website are given for the cheapest double room occupied by two people in low season to the priciest accommodation (again for two people) in high season. The latter may also include suites – a much abused term that can mean anything from the addition of an upholstered armchair to a sitting room separate from the bedroom.
All room prices exclude tourist tax (taxe de séjour) which, if applied by the locality, varies from about €0.30 to €1.40 per person per day according to the standard of the hotel.

Q Why so few luxury hotels?

A I make no apology for this. Hotels charging high prices should need no endorsement of the quality of their hospitality; more to the point, staying at such places puts an unwelcome strain on my inspection budget. A few unpretentious examples have been included only because they were found to be exceptional. Do feel free to recommend any others that are particularly memorable. This website concentrates instead on more modestly-priced hotels. Hotels that get the nod are those that are not just good but also in some way memorable.

Q Why do you choose hotels which have with their own restaurants?

A French drink-driving laws are very strict. Because it seems criminal to have to forego wine with dinner, a Memorable Hotel without a restaurant must have one within walking distance. It pays to check a restaurant’s weekly closure days when making reservations; an hotel whose restaurant is closed lacks its usual ambience.

Q How important is cuisine?

A Cuisine is not the pre-eminent attribute - a place with a memorable restaurant in a lousy location would never qualify as a memorable hotel (and vice-versa). French cuisine has an enviable world-wide reputation but sadly some French restaurants serve up pretty dire fare. Likewise, in many of the so-called ‘gastronomic’ restaurants, presentation has got OTT; you can wait hours for each course because some barking chef fancies himself as an artist as well as a cook.
I suppose that I am happiest relaxing on the terrace of an unpretentious country auberge on a balmy summer's evening. Here the appetite is enhanced by the genuine enthusiasm of the patronne as she describes the specialities on the menu. It reflects her confidence in the talents of her husband slaving away in the kitchen. As a Michelin-starred chef once put it so concisely “Le plus difficile est de faire simple”.

Q Why are there no pointers to hotels suitable for families or the disabled?

A I am aware that what suits one family (swings in the garden, connecting rooms) may not be important to others (early suppers, activity clubs). Likewise those with limited mobility have very specific individual requirements that are beyond the scope of this guide. But owners of small hotels are usually exceedingly helpful in answering detailed questions regarding the suitability of their establishment for particular needs.

Q With less than 250 hotels in your guide, won’t they all get swamped with English-speaking guests?

A No, because as the popularity of the site grows, the number of featured hotels will also increase. Remember, however, that these are the kind of hotels that may already attract discerning, English-speaking guests so their appearance in this guide is unlikely to alter their prevailing ambience.

Q Any pet hates?

A My pet hates: bolsters on the bed, patronising staff and dotty over-elaborate presentation of food. Hoteliers’ pet hates: people who picnic in their bedrooms; and guests who assure them that everything is fine but then write a critical review when they get home. This is known in the trade as ‘l’hypocrisie anglaise’! Be sure, therefore, to pluck up courage to complain on the spot if needs be so that hoteliers have a chance to rectify any problems.

Q How would you suggest we make reservations?

A Given the diversity of accommodation within each establishment, it’s best to book direct with the hotelier after outlining your preferences and any special requirements. The ‘send the hotel an email’ link within this site is a helpful place to start.
Hotel websites should detail any special offers. At the lower end of the price range, any discounts available from specialist booking agencies are likely to be small or non-existent.

Q Why ask do you ask us to register with our email addresses?

A To help me to guage the popularity of the site and to asses the rates for any eventual advertising; also to be able to update registered users on any new additions to the guide via the regular newsletter.