Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Hotel Richer de Belleval: Where luxury meets bistronomy in southern France city Montpellier

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By  Sujoy Dhar 

When the Uber driver dropped us off on the main street of Monpellier driving through the iconic city gateway that is Porte du Peyrou, I thought my five-star hotel was just around with some impressive portico.

I was wrong. For a while I cluelessly searched for Hotel Richer de Belleval till a walk toting my suitcase down the maze of cobbled mediaeval alleys lined with limestone houses led me to a beautiful square and the property, an old mansion that witnessed a rebirth for gastronomy, art and luxury stay.

Once inside the magnificent heritage hotel across a square which on weekends buzz with music and a happy crowd of diners basking in the Montpellier sun, I felt like an entitled luxury traveller who is also free-spirited. Soon I discovered that my room on the first floor overlooking the square- Place de la Canourgue- was a stunner.

“The Hotel Richer de Belleval is actually a private mansion turned Relais & Châteaux Hotel-Restaurant in the heart of the city. I learnt in my dreamy two days in the property that it is a place for gastronomes, and lovers of  art, culture and history, with a patio courtyard and an inner courtyard thrown in for good measure. “

The hotel is at this peaceful square – Place de la Canourgue – lined with beautiful mansions from the 17th century with outdoor cafés and the beautiful view of Cathédrale Saint Pierre and the city’s rooftops.

The repurposed property  was transformed into a must-visit-must-stay destination by The Philippe Prost firm, the Atelier de Ricou, Christian Collot, the Pourcel brothers (twin chefs), architects, atmospheric directors and restaurateurs. They all contributed their best without compromising the origin of the building.

The hotel preserved the floors, frescoes, and paintings, and installed new pieces, contemporary artworks, and objects that awaken emotions and give the place a timeless cachet that will last for years.

Rooms

The rooms in the hotel are both classy and cozy and each overlooks either the square outside or narrow streets of the city centre. The wifi rooms with TV loaded with satellite channels, have coffee machines while the bathrooms have walk-in showers.

A “Junior Suite With Balcony” is decorated with 17th Century gypseries classified as historical monuments. This suite has a ceiling height of 5 metres and a view of Place de la Canourgue and interior patio.

The hotel’s atmosphere designer, Christian Collot, has added his own touch of sensitivity to the 15 rooms and five suites. “The spaces are treated like curiosity cabinets with a singular atmosphere that plunge into dreamlike worlds without losing the comfort and the requirements of today’s well-being,” the hotel says.

He has made the spaces warm with wood, velvet, tapestries and paintings chosen in the colours of blue hour, purple and scarlet night.

Food glorious food

Besides art and history, this hotel is one dedicated to gastronomy with a Michillin star restaurant to boast of.

Chefs Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, twin sons of a winegrower, helm the gastronome scene at this hotel, offering you you sensory  experiences in the three vaulted rooms of the property including the restaurant that is Jardin des Sens in a space of architectural monuments and wonderful ceiling frescoes.  Their Gallic recipes are works of culinary art.

They will also propose a bistronomic cuisine, upstairs, in the former wedding hall, or in the courtyard of the hotel or on the terrace, close to the hackberry trees of the Place de la Canourgue, which is the beautiful square of Montpellier where the hotel is located.

“With their four hands, they have a talent for producing contradictory flavours, so that in their dishes the contrasts meld together, as when the almond delicately sweetens the bold flavour of a green olive tapenade,” says Olivers & Co, Mane, France, which makes a selection of world’s best vintage olive oil and Mediterranean grocery products. (TWF)

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