To escape the grey and wet Belgian wintery weather Gillis and I went for a short break in Southern France. We travelled there by train and would be staying 5 nights in Avignon to use it as a base for discovering the region and cities like Arles, Orange and Nîmes.
Our hotel in Avignon was the Mercure Avignon Centre Palais des Papes. It is a 4-star hotel, located smack bang next to Avignon’s most famous landmark, the Palais des Papes. We were so close to the palace that we could even see the palace’s WiFi from our room, so the location could not be better. From the outside the hotel made a very clean and inviting impression, the small lobby was decorated in a contemporary and inviting design.
When arriving at the hotel we were immediately greeted in English by the lady behind the reception and where given a very warm welcome with the explanations about the hotel and the surroundings.
As we booked a special package which included the entrance into the Palais des Papes and the Pont d’Avignon we had to ask her about the tickets as she had accidently forgotten about them. After opening a few drawers she located the tickets and handed them to us, unfortunately someone at the hotel made a mistake and ordered the tickets for the date we booked the hotel instead of the date we would be visiting the palace.
Luckily we could sort this out the next day at the palace and we were not forced to pay a new ticket but I would not recommend anyone to book this package as it clearly does not give a lot of advantage.
When we got to the room I found out that my famous ‘accessible room curse’ had come back to haunt me. We were indeed assigned an accessible room, while in the bed area there was not a lot different to a normal room the bathroom was clearly adapted for it. In the room we had two comfortable beds, standard with a small pillow and a decorative pillow each, larger pillows could be found in the wardrobe.
There were power plugs at each side of the bed, ideal to charge all your personal electronics while relaxing in bed.
Against the wall in between the entrance and the bathroom door there was a wall mounted TV with a small closed cabinet under it and a small stool. In the corner of the room near the window was a small table and chair tucked away in the corner, as well as a small closet with tea and coffee facilities on top and a mini fridge inside.
There were four different kinds of tea on offer that where replenished daily and in the otherwise empty mini fridge there were two complimentary water bottles which were not replenished. It’s a nice gesture the hotel provides a complimentary bottle of water and it is nice to see that this is being adopted more and more.
The bathroom screamed out accessibility and wasn’t the most practical. First of all because of the sliding door, it was not possible to lock it while this was not a real problem for us I can imagine it is a problem for other people.
There was a big washbasin on one side, with some room to put stuff on the sides, however as there were no towel racks the towels where put there as well. There also was no other room in the bathroom to put any of your stuff on so this could be improved.
The toilet was a pretty clean and standard affair, with two different types of toilet paper to choose from (this was a first in a hotel for me, not sure why they did this).
The biggest disadvantage was the shower, this was a walk in shower with only a very small shower screen. While the big rain shower head was very nice and instantly gave warm water with good pressure it was very hard not to flood the entire bathroom while showering as the water sprayed and flowed all over the bathroom.
The toiletries were also a disappointment, the hotel only provided two bars of soap at the wash table and a shampoo/shower gel dispenser in the shower. There were no individual shower gel, shampoo, conditioner or body lotion and the gel used seemed to be of a relatively low quality.
Also the cleanliness could be better, as their rooms where only refurbished a few years ago it was sad to see that the bathroom door was damaged and dirty around the floor area, some joints in the bathroom looked rather dirty and the tapestry was loosening in some areas.
Another sign of disrepair was the LED light behind the wall above the bed, only a small section was still working while it clearly was designed to be lit up over the full length.
WiFi connectivity was also a disaster, while I could perfectly login to the network and have full connectivity it was impossible to open any websites or send and receive messages over the hotel’s WiFi network and I was forced to use my Phone’s 4G connection (thank god for the new European Roaming regulations).
In the morning we made use of the breakfast, for French standards it was quite large and made use of very good products. You had one warm container with some scrambled eggs and bacon and sausages. Otherwise you had some different types of French style breads, which you still had to cute yourself no small individual bread was on offer.
There were also a number of cold cuts and cheeses at your disposal as well as butter, jam, freshly cut fruit and some typical French compote.
Next to the obligatory croissant the sweet section also offered a number of viennoiseries, slices of cake, crepes and American pancakes (but all offered cold).
You had a choice between different kinds of juice, including a fresh orange juice machine, a big coffer of tea and both a ‘normal’ coffee machine and a Nespresso machine.
Opposite from the main buffet on a small side table there where some delicious local products on offer, which I really though was a good idea to give a local touch and encourage the guests to try out some local products.
While the quality of the offering was very good I missed a bit of variety as it was exactly the same every morning, it would be nice if they changed the type of eggs each morning like changing in between scrambled, fried and omelette or have some other rotating items.
Also if items ran out they were often not replenished, I never had the full choice of cheese in the morning as there was always one type of cheese not available by the time I arrived at breakfast.
While the Mercure Avignon Centre Palais des Papes offers a solid and reliable product I did sometimes miss the 4th star. While they would be a very good 3 star hotel they do have some minor issues to deal with before I can truly say they are worthy of a 4 star rating. They should improve the toiletries on offer and improve the stowage options for personal stuff in the bathroom, fix the WiFi issues and make sure all the rooms are in the best possible condition. Luckily the staff employed is very warm and welcoming and has the passion to try and make your stay a pleasant one.
All in all I would say that the hotel is a good place to stay at, considering its location in the centre of Avignon and if the price is right.
Have you stayed in a Mercure before, how was it and how did you rate it? Have you ever spent the night in an accessible room before and what is your opinion on it? Let us know in the comments below!