This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.
Saturday morning has never been so peaceful. Though a blazing sun is doing its best to bore its way through the window-masking muslin, our vast bedchamber is cool, calm and airy. All around us is white. The walls and lofty ceiling, decorated with frescoes of frolicking fauna, are the colour of milk; and everything, from the huge bed in which we are lying, to the curtains that ripple gently in the breeze of a Montpellier morning, is Arctic-pale. I feel as though I’m in John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ video. All we’re missing is a white baby grand.
My Yoko is just starting to stir. Mrs Smith extricates herself from the soft cotton sheets in which she’s spent the night, and begins her journey across several feet of cool flagstones towards the bathroom. I turn over and allow myself to fall back into the sort of blissful half-sleep you can only achieve when you know you’ve got nothing remotely pressing to do.
As Mrs Smith takes full advantage of the luxurious toiletries in the ensuite, where antique charm meets contemporary cool, I look around the room through barely open eyes. Peacock-feather lamps stand next to a vase of lilies on a sinuous darkwood table, several small white circular rugs dot the floor, and a pair of scarlet Scandinavian-style chairs add a striking splash of colour to one end of the chamber. Such here-and-now touches somehow don’t diffuse the way-back-when feel; it’s like being able to step into the past, but without surrendering any modern-day sybaritic requirements. It’s amazing how laid-back and utterly at home I feel. If that loud rendition of a Belinda Carlisle song I can hear over the pitter-patter of the shower is anything to go by, I’d say Mrs Smith feels the same way.
‘Did last night really happen?’ she asks, emerging from the salle de bain draped in a huge, white fluffy towel. It seems unbelievable, now we’re ensconced in such tranquil surroundings but, yes, alas, last night did happen. Somewhere between checking ourselves into this beautiful 18th-century townhouse in Montpellier’s ancient centre, and returning to our chambre d’hôte around midnight, we’d ended up in a slanging match with a furious chef out in the Place du Marché aux Fleurs. On paper, our choice of restaurant was perfect – alfresco tables, a supposedly new take on French cuisine, a quasi-celebrity chef – but an unsolicited side order of aggression left a none-too- sweet taste in our mouths.
Thank goodness, then, for Baudon de Mauny, just a short walk away from the Place du Marché aux Fleurs. Just to walk through its heavy, centuries-old wooden front door into the silent cobbled courtyard that leads to its grand stone staircase is – if you’ll permit me another Lennon moment – an instant calmer. And by the time we’d reclined awhile on the antique scarlet sofa in the first-floor salon, glasses of velvety Faugères red in hand, our anger had completely disappeared.
The next morning, after a late breakfast of pastries, fresh bread and fruit, we leave the hotel behind and head once more into the beautiful streets of the old town. Bathed in sunlight, its elegantly crumbling mediaeval buildings glow nobly, while its corkscrew alleyways provide all the shade a freckle-cheeked closet ginger such as me requires. Although Mrs Smith, with enough Italian genes in her lineage to withstand the Mediterranean glare, is all for joining the locals and stretching out in the Jardin du Champ de Mars, I manage to lure her into the excellent – and air-conditioned – Musée Fabre to see an exhibition of surprisingly gynaecological 19th-century paintings.
By dusk, we’re drinking champagne cocktails outside a parkside bar off Rue Foch, watching leather-faced old men smoke on benches while their wives drag four-legged pompoms up and down the paths. Then we wander into the cobblestoned heart of the old town and secure an outside table at Le Grillardin where, on first inspection at least, no one seems to be demanding their money back or threatening to inflict GBH on the chef. Our meal – which includes a wonderfully sticky and salty salad of pig’s trotters, and garlicky, herb-infused cuttlefish – is superb. And, despite the presence of a roaming band of reggae-murdering trustafarians in the Place de la Chapelle Neuve, the experience is 100 times finer than the disaster of 24 hours ago.
Back in our soothing, all-white chamber at Baudon de Mauny, I lounge on the bed and flick through an hilariously translated local-history book – ‘Saint Roch of Montpellier went alone in a wood and could have died if a dog had not brought him bread every day with a friend hand’ – while Mrs Smith takes full advantage of the free WiFi to email a picture or two of this fair city to her friends. There are guests in Baudon de Mauny’s other four rooms – it’s just that, thanks to the hotel’s laid-back ambience, we never see them. Everyone’s getting up when they want, lounging in the salon when the mood takes them and generally being as relaxed about everything as we are. Like John and Yoko, we only have to imagine all the people.
Anonymously reviewed by Rufus Purdy (Word wizard)
Reviews of Baudon de Mauny from Smith members
Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…
Baudon de Mauny is a place apart: to stay is to enter a world of relaxed luxury. We ended up in the room reviewed on the Mr & Mrs Smith website and it was a joy to stay there. Alain, the owner, exemplifies perfection as the sophisticated yet utterly relaxed host. Our room was enormous and by default the glorious salon virtually became our living room, especially at night. The staff were great – there was absolutely no pressure to be anything other than ourselves. Fabulous.
We felt that the breakfast cheese and ham didn't quite match the peerless quality of the place as a whole, but this is a mere detail.
Simon, BlackSmith stayed on 17 May 2013
It really is a beautiful building with huge rooms, wonderful artwork, murals and frescoes. It feels a little like a Riad with the peace and coolness of the interior in contrast to the hot and busy streets.
We arrived at 9pm and found the place deserted. We were not aware the establishment closed its reception at 8.30pm. It took some time for us to gain access into the central courtyard and longer still for the owners to arrive to let us into the hotel. There was a communication breakdown that caused this in the first place. The owner said he would have met us had he known our arrival time.
Chloe, SilverSmith stayed on 3 Aug 2012 Felix who was 2 years old on our arrival day.
What a wonderful place. Rebecca and Alain were lovely hosts and very helpful in everything, from explaining the latest exhibition at the Musee Fabre, to recommending dinner options, to booking a cab for our return to the airport. We stayed in the Papillon room - bright, airy and fun, and great toiletries. The lounge area was also beautiful with some great coffee table books. Recommendations: Le Grillardin on the square near the Cathedral was great, the veal tartare was especially tasty. In fact that whole square had a really lovely atmosphere and didn't feel too touristy. Chez Boris was also fantastic and a one min walk from the hotel, local cooked food each day with wine matching and all for a very reasonable price - the tarte aux pommes was sublime. Top tip for here though: choose a table slightly away from the road if outside, as in the evening the scooters can whizz around the streets and it's best not to have them right next to you. There are lots of quirky shops around the St Roch area, felt lovely for just a slow afternoon stroll. Wouldn't bother with the Jardin Des Plantes looked very brown and unloved when we visited. Also not that taken with the Place Comedie, just a big square with lots of very overpriced rubbish restaurants on it, stick to exploring the beautiful squares and side streets instead.
Rebecca, BlackSmith stayed on 28 Jun 2012
This hotel is a complete find – Well done Mr & Mrs Smith. Having owned and sold an apartment in Montpellier we thought we knew the town well, but Baudon de Mauny has to be one of its best-kept secrets. Its perfect central location was greatly enhanced by the lavender sky that we walked through each time we came and went from the hotel, courtesy of the
, we re-discovered a city that has everything. Alain was the perfect host and the room and service were faultless. We will be back.
Alison, GoldSmith stayed on 16 Jun 2012