Hotel Review: Hotel Albert 1er, Toulouse: simply perfect
I don’t know much of France, but I’ve visited enough cities to say that Toulouse must be one of the great underrated cities of France. It has a pretty centre, beautiful architecture, nice restaurants, classy shopping – who would not want to go there? It is well known as an industrial city (it has the main Airbus factory) and the administrative centre of the Haute-Garonne region. If you want Southern France without the crowds or simply an alternative arrival point to Carcassonne, Provence or the Languedoc, give Toulouse a chance and stay a day or two.
Perhaps because of Airbus, who have their main factory next to Blagnac Airport, flights from all over Europe are plentiful and often cheap. The city centre is just a tram and a metro ride away, and compact enough to walk around. And right int he middle is this gem of a small and budget-friendly hotel that doesn’t scrimp on style.
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Right in the centre of Toulouse. Take the Metro to Capitole, walk about 200 metres to a quiet side street, and you’re there. Shops, restaurant, museums… everything is at your doorstep.
This sweet gem is two converted apartment buildings with heaps of period features. It has tasteful, natural material furnishings, without being labelled “eco” but form the lovingly refurbished original staircases, panelling and lovely old furniture, they are very good at reclaiming and upcycling.
And just so you know… the hotel will also have bicycles for you! I found Toulouse great for walking, with lots of pedestrianised areas, but perhaps you fancy a ride along the Garonne?
We paid 75 EURO per night for this standard double room. It was located towards the back of the building, overlooking a quiet yard. Yes, it’s small, but perfectly formed.
The mattress was super comfy, and the (cotton) bed linen of a very good quality. I have a thing about bed linen. I hate scratchy or poorly laundered/pressed linens. These ones certainly passed the test.
Functional super clean bathroom, a little desk. Perfect. And of course, there was functional stable WiFi.
The hotel looks like a tidy quiet business hotel in the centre of town, but then, when you go for breakfast (which was included in our rate), you go for a massive treat. I hope you’re a breakfast person! Most other hotels I stayed in in France either served no breakfast at all or it was a rather short affair – coffee and a croissant.
Although when you come to breakfast at the Albert Premier, you better have worked up an appetite. You are greeted by a towering galette, which is somewhat traditional of the region. Pretty much everything is organic and there’s a poster on the wall telling where all the supplies are from – and, surprise, surprise, they re all from the region.
Fresh orange juice at anything less than a five-star in Europe? You have to make it yourself, though but it’s there. Also, really nice oranges. I suspect they grow even oranges nearby.
Actually… the galette is a gateau a la brioche. Still pretty crispy and, um, not like a chimney cake or Germany layered cake. Have it with some organic jam.
That soap shop
Leave the hotel, turn right and then left, and you come across this great shop selling Marseille Soap. Its proper name is La Maison du Savon de Marseille (54 Rue de Alsace Lorraine). They say on their website they only sell artisanal soap and natural bath products. Although Marseille Soap is not protected by an appellation, these contain only vegetable ingredients and natural colours on perfumes according to their website. I went a bit crazy and bought a few but my wardrobe now smells divine, and I use them in the bath but haven’t dared to use them on hair yet – you might be able to, as they are are both based on olive oil. Anyway… here’s your place for inexpensive souvenirs that make your luggage smell goooorgeous. They are franchise, by the way, with many shops all over France and some in Spain (and worldwide).
As we have family nearby, we hope to return to Toulouse again and again. If you look for somewhere a bit less touristy than Provence, give Occitanie a try. Toulouse is a great base for the region – a sophisticated city with many restaurants and shops, and a bunch of well-regarded museums – which I shall visyit, in due course!
I couldn’t think of a better, and nicer city hotel than the Albert Premier, and although I might try the one or the other for research purposes, I hope to return soon! I wholeheartedly recommend staying there – the only slight issue might be if you travel by car – I am not sure there is parking as it’s right in the middle of the city.
Give Occitanie a try! I went to Montpellier, Pezenas and Sete a while ago, but my “neighbourhood” is the Tarn with the great towns of Gaillac, Albi and lots of hidden treasures. Would you be interested in a guide to the Tarn sometime?
Hotel Albert 1er
8 rue Rivals | 7 Rue JF Kennedy, 31000, Toulouse, France
Telephone: +33 5 61 21 17 91
or book on Booking.com*
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Nearest Metro: Capitole ( 2 minutes)
Airport: Toulouse-Blagnac. Don’t bother with the pricey airport shuttle bus. Do like the locals do and use the tram into town. The ticket machine is right by the tram terminus outside Arrivals. Change onto the Metro at Arenes, get off at Capitole. The whole trip from the airport takes about 20 minutes, faster than the bus.
Features: Bar, Lift, nonsmoking rooms, free WiFi, conference facilities
Doesn’t Feature: restaurant (although there is the well-regarded restaurant Le Rivals next door)
Disclosure: This trip was entirely self funded, and I have received no monetary or non-monetary rewards for linking aside from some affiliate links (marked with an asterisk). For the simple process of linking to other businesses, I proclaim this unpaid advertising. I will only review and recommend places that I have stayed in myself. You can trust me for the complete, unbiased truth. More details on my affiliate link policy are here.