After an action-packed few days exploring the culinary delights of the Vaucluse last summer, it was time for us to start the long journey home to London. On the way down to the Vaucluse, we had stopped as little as possible, breaking our journey only to sleep at the Fasthotel outside Clermont Ferrand – a place I had plucked off Tripadvisor because it was halfway between the Channel and our destination. It may not look like much but offered free parking for our car, featured very clean rooms, hot showers and free WiFi – all for €17 per person per night. But on the way back we had decided to enjoy a more leisurely journey and make a road-trip of it, stopping over twice in Dijon and in Paris. Paris was a no brainer, but Dijon was chosen mainly because it was a fairly large city that we could reach in half a day from the Vaucluse – that’s about the extent of the research that went into our choice. But having spent two days in Dijon, I am happy to report that we could hardly have made a better decision – it’s a wonderful weekend destination with enough shopping, gastronomy, architecture and art to occupy you without overwhelming you. And there can be few more convenient places to use as a base to explore Dijon and surrounding areas than the Grand Hotel La Cloche de Dijon.
The Grand Hotel La Cloche de Dijon is situated in a listed heritage building that was completed in 1884, close to the pedestrianised district of the old town and overlooking the Place Darcy and the graceful Porte Guillaume. The building is built of Burgundy stone in the classical Hausmann style and is topped with 3 small bell towers which have sounded the hours since 1939. When we visited it was branded as a Sofitel but as it is a boutique hotel with only 68 rooms, it has since been rebranded as an MGallery hotel, the branch within the Accor hotel group dedicated to smaller boutique establishments. Despite its relatively small size, the lobby is clasically impressive and front desk staff were super-friendly and helpful, assisting us happily with directions and restaurant recommendations.
Our room was a Classic Double overlooking Place Darcy with three windows, each with a small Juliet balcony and double glazing. Unfortunately, when we visited the Place Darcy was undergoing renovations which somewhat spoilt the elegance of the square, but the Porte Guillaume remained as elegant as ever. The room was of a good size by European standards and well appointed with a king size bed (apparently a MyBed™ concept mattress, specially designed for the hotel group and featuring a higher concentration of springs placed at common points of pressure, like your shoulders, neck, and back), a desk area and a bathroom with a shower over the tub. The only real negative was the ridiculously tiny clothes cupboard. It was just about OK for people staying two nights but if you were staying for a week you’d struggle to find space to unpack your clothes. The room safe was in the cupboard but bizarrely, our safe was not attached to the wall – or, indeed, to anything – which kind of defeats the purpose if you ask me. I’ve also included a video of the room to give you a better feel for the size and layout.
As you’d expect from a hotel of this calibre there were also robes and slippers, as well as a welcome pack including a plate of sweet treats (fresh berries, dried apricots, sables and a kind of millionaire’s shortbread confection), a bottle of Bourgogne Aligote wine and a little bottle of Crème de Cassis blackberry liqueur – the latter being the two classic ingredients of a kir cocktail. There was a kettle plus sachets of tea and instant coffee (not particularly exciting) and some rather lovely snacks from Esprit Gourmand Provence. There was free WiFi in the room but only up to a certain maximum time limit, so you kept having to remember to log out after browsing to make sure that you did not use up your allocation accidentally. But the biggest bonus points must surely be for the quality of the toiletries which were from iconic brand L’Occitaine.
Although we did not have a chance to dine in the hotel, we did enjoy breakfast for both mornings of our stay. A buffet breakfast is served daily in “Les Jardins de la Cloche”, a glassed-in extension added to the hotel and overlooking their beautiful gardens, or in the gardens themselves when the weather permits. The buffet-style breakfast is attractively presented and features a good selection – from cereals, fruits and yoghurts, through a good selection of cold meats, cheeses and smoked salmon, to excellent breads and pastries (who can resist apple cake for breakfast?).
Classic double rooms including breakfast start from €195 per night; Deluxe double rooms from €270 and suites from €500 per night. The hotel offers underground parking but is located so close to the main attractions of the city that you can easily do without one. If you are looking for a hotel in the heart of Dijon and a base for exploring Burgundy that offers all the modern comforts but still retains a sense of old world charm and grace, the Grand Hotel La Cloche is ideal.
DISCLOSURE: I stayed one night as a guest of the hotel and one night at a reduced media rate. I received no further remuneration in exchange for this post and all opinions are my own.
Grand Hotel La Cloche Dijon
14 Place Darcy
21000 – DIJON