Our large corner room was clean and quiet serviceable for an inexpensive 3 star hotel. While it was spartan and dated in its decor it nevertheless had some old world, small guesthouse charm about it that is very appropriate in Biarritz (the style is 1930's or 40's, I think). The bathroom was overwhelmingly old chunky white porcelain and white tiles but there was some charm in this and some charm in the cheap but quirky print on the wall. Similarly the very large bedroom was basic mission brown, beige and white but was very clean and comfortable. (This room could have down with some old world prints too, or at least something to brighten it up a little - there was some historical material which was good). The hotel is quiet well positioned within Biarritz too.
But this is where the positives end. There were some management issues - essentially the same issues that some others reviewers have presented. Looking at these reviews, I will try very hard to just keep to the facts.
Firstly, we were literally "warned" on arrival that eating and clothes washing in the rooms was not permitted. The cautionary phrase uttered in a stern headmaster tone but with a mildly threatening smile was, "This is not camping, is it?". We found this to be impolite and unnecessarily overbearing. It immediately put us in a negative frame of mind towards the owner, who was otherwise quiet civil and with good English. We are an older couple of seasoned world travelers and to us this attitude to new paying guests said either that it was a cheap hotel with many uncivilized guests in the past and we looked to him like we might be one of them (!), or that the owner was a control-freak. Whichever it was, we were immediately made to feel uncomfortable. We said nothing of course, but could not help but look critically at the room we then went upstairs to settle into. In particular we wondered to each other what the totally empty fridge and dining table complete with tablecloth and wooden dining chairs were all about if no food was allowed.
This initial experience might have been forgotten if the behavior of the owner had not again reinforced our impression that he had an overbearing attitude to his guests. Our room, as we knowingly booked it, had no air conditioning but did have a large free-standing fan (as I believe is the case for the balconied rooms in this establishment). But the weather was unseasonably hot. We had had a long hot day and were keen to avoid a hot sleepless night. I very carefully set up the old-style European shutters and windows to allow the little breeze there was to cool off the airless stifling room. We then left the room to find a nice restaurant nearby.
We returned to find that our room was still hot and airless, having been entered by someone who had adjusted its windows and shutters to prevent the air coming in. We firstly found it disturbing that someone would unnecessarily enter our room in this manner soon after our arrival. In such a small hotel it made us feel uncomfortable, distrusted and "under observation" by the management. We secondly felt that the closure of the windows and shutters was unjustifiable (the windows are unreachable from the ground and the shutters were locked in place anyway). This again spoke of an attitude of interference and control of guests. A respectful owner might have at least mentioned his reasons and his regret for having had to intervene the next day. Nothing was said.
They were helpful and friendly as we left after two nights, finding us a taxi. But I am afraid I cannot recommend that travellers stay here unless this sort of thing won't concern you.
My humble suggestions to the owners, who I'm sure are actually very nice people, are the following.
1. Place very polite and cheerful notices on the fridge, on the dining table and near the bathroom sink to say things like, "The fridge can be used to keep water and other drinks cold, but please don't store foodstuffs or prepare meals in your room" and "Please don't leave washing hanging in the bathroom. Thank you!". You might also want a more formal version on the back of the door in small print that says extra cleaning charges apply if these rules are violated.
2. You can then cut your guests a bit of slack and they will love you for it. If someone in desperation harmlessly rinses out one piece of soiled clothing or eats a sandwich and a takeaway coffee while doing their emails, turn a blind eye and let it go! Only ever admonish (and even charge) someone who actually makes a significant mess or leaves a room festooned with washing. Never admonish a guest for the mess they might make.
3. Never enter a guests room unless:
a) you are doing the daily room clean once your guests have left for the day,
b) you have "due cause" to do so (eg: you hear shutters banging in the wind or really do have reason to suspect wrongdoing) and always tell them what you did and why afterwards. Your guests need to feel secure and don't want to feel "watched". If you relax, they will too.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Hotel Maison Garnier Biarritz Authentic charming hotel of 7 bedrooms in the heart of Biarritz, with its matchless charm, Maison Garnier kept its sober and elegant character in a villa from 1876. She invites you to enjoy its bedrooms spacious and bright with relaxing day strolling through the city or its area.On entering we discovered on the left the salon, and right a charming dining room where we serve breakfast, with large windows overlooking a flowered balcony. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Maison Garnier Hotel Biarritz