Published by Lyn on 2 June 2016
Champagne for breakfast? On a ride to La Rochelle, Jacqui Brown stayed at the Best Western Masqhotel – here's her review.
La Rochelle is one of my favourite cities and very bike-friendly. The city has its own bike hire scheme (the first ever in France), the old port is now closed to traffic, making a bike the best way to get around and it is impossible to go anywhere without crossing paths with cyclists and bikes of all shapes, sizes and colours.
Arriving at the Masqhotel on our bikes, having cycled 67km via the Vélo Francette from Coulon in the Marais Poitevin, was straightforward, safe and the hotel was easy to find.
From the moment I first walked into reception, I had a feeling of being somewhere rather special and I couldn’t help but smile, as it was colourful, quirky and welcoming, even to hot, sweaty and wind-beaten cyclists.
5 things we liked
They seemed to have thought of everything in their well-equipped hotel rooms, especially for cyclists with tired legs and limited packing space. I really appreciated the tea and coffee making facilities with biscuits and a nice selection of teas, a bath with shower, shampoo and shower gel in bottles (not sachets), the hairdryer, and the comfy bed. An additional nice touch was an iPod dock and UK plug sockets as well as French ones.
The Vélo Francette runs right outside the hotel and La Rochelle is very much a city of bikes, so from the hotel there are cycle paths to the harbour, the station, the old port and Ile de Ré. It is also only a five-minute walk to the old port where there are plenty of restaurants to choose from and even closer is the station with high-speed trains to Paris, Bordeaux and Nantes (all within 2 hours).
3. The lounge
Art features throughout the hotel, with original pieces in all the rooms as well as in the hotel lounge where there are also funky lights, desks, colourful comfy seating and a bar. This would be a perfect social space if you were travelling in a group. The hotel has welcomed groups of cyclists and if you contact them, group bookings can be arranged.
Preparing your fuel for a day on the bikes means a good breakfast is important, and although I tried my best to sample it all, the extensive choices of hot and cold food made that impossible. Also, I’ve never stayed anywhere where a glass of Champagne has been offered as part of the buffet breakfast, but here it is standard. As an Ecolabel hotel, the Masqhotel has its own beehives on the roof garden and they hope one day to have enough honey to serve at breakfast. In the meantime, the honey is provided by a local beekeeper.
5. The service
Everyone I met who worked at the reception desk was friendly, helpful and spoke English as well as French. The bike parking is secure and dry in the underground car park that can only be accessed by hotel guests. The hotel wifi was free, reliable and fast. In my experience, the sun always shines in La Rochelle, however, large umbrellas sat by the door for guests to use on damp days.
This is not a budget hotel, but to start or finish your cycle tour here would be a very special experience and ensure you had great memories of your time cycling in France. We might only have been away for one night, but it felt like we had been on a real holiday.
About our reviewer
Our guest reviewer Jacqui Brown writes the super interesting French Village Diaries, a blog about life in Poitou-Charentes, cycling, French food, travel, and books. The photos are Jacqui's as well, with the exception of the outside and lounge shots, which came via the hotel.