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It was my girlfriend's 21st birthday and I had a week of holiday to use up before Christmas. So, as you do, I booked a trip to Toulouse for the two of us.
The Kyriad is probably not the hotel I would have chosen if I'd had an unlimited budget and more time to reflect on the trip. A huge 2 star hotel at the wrong end of Toulouse's Boulevard de la Gare, everything about its decoration, situation and lack of facilities suggests that it's not a hotel for a romantic break, more one for the low end business traveller.
It's next to a canal, but at the exact point where the still waters are covered by a large concrete bridge. Crowds of typically French pedestrians throng past for much of the day, and unfortunately most of them seem to be typically French prostitutes. The kebab shop around the corner serves possibly the dodgiest kebab I've ever had (and I've lived in Coventry) and its owner is clearly under the impression that he has the largest genitalia in South West France.
On the other side of the canal, there's that most inevitable of international attractions, the Irish bar, and round the corner from the kebab shop there's the only kind of bar that's worse - the 'English pub'. We didn't go in either of these, on principle.
But the hotel itself, well... that's a bit different. Given that it was not really what we'd have wanted at all, it ticked a lot of boxes. Firstly, it was signposted clearly from the station where the airport shuttle dropped us - and it was about the only hotel that received that treatment.
OK, so the sign points to the wrong side of the road so we had to cross back over the canal once we'd found the hotel, but you can't be picky.
Check in was painless, I'd booked online and just waved my confirmation at the polite chap at the desk. He gave me a key for my trouble and a map of Toulouse. He even helpfully circled the city centre for us, and it was telling that the hotel was quite some distance away - don't let the 'Kyriad Toulouse Centre' name fool you, it's easily within walking distance but certainly not central.
We took the lift to our room, and we were... satisfied. Big comfy bed, television with basic satellite channels (including BBC World and the German and Spanish equivalents), clean and fully stocked en suite bathroom, and tea and coffee making facilities. We looked around and said, yup, pretty good.
OK, the cups for the tea and coffee were flimsy plastic that you wouldn't trust to hold scalding hot liquid, but we weren't in France to hide in a hotel room and drink Nescafe.
The hotel was pretty quiet, and the only time we really saw other guests was in the restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast was the only meal served by the hotel, but that's OK as Toulouse is JAMMED full of restaurants, many of which I'm hoping to cover over the coming weeks. But we slept well, which was the main thing.
Basically we used the hotel as a base to explore the town and spent as little time there as possible. That's not a reflection on the hotel as such, we'd planned to spend the trip that way, but there was certainly nothing there to tempt us to linger. The rooms, the restaurant, apparently some conference rooms, and that's it. But for £40 a night, we felt we were getting what we were paying for.
The only really sour note, which is still rankling and probably the reason behind the slightly sarcastic tone of this piece, is that on check out we were suddenly charged for the breakfasts we'd been consuming all week. We'd been honestly unsure whether our breakfast had been covered in our booking or not, but they never seemed to check which room we were in in the morning, the breakfast was trumpeted as a major selling point of the hotel in all their literature and quite frankly I was a bit pissed off to shell out another 70 Euros on the last day of my holiday. Had it not been 6:30 in the morning, I would certainly have raised hell.
But, credit where it's due, the Kyriad is an astoundingly competent basic hotel for the traveller on a budget. Our room was cleaned every day, we never had any problems and all our touristy requests at the front desk were treated courteously and swiftly. All the hotel literature is printed bi-lingually in French and English and you're only a ten minute walk away from some of the best bits of the city of Toulouse.
Throw in a couple more pillows for each room, stop daylight robbery breakfast charges and chase off the whores with cattle prods every evening and it would be brill.
Pictures of Kyriad Toulouse Centre, Toulouse
A sleepy man on a bench!
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