Charlotte Wigram-Evans heads to the charming, classically French city of Toulouse to be pampered, and to eat a lot of cheese, naturally
La Cour des Consuls Hôtel & Spa Toulouse – MGallery by Sofitel flawlessly combines the old and the new. Housed in a charming 15-th century building that’s wrapped around an enormous cobbled courtyard, the interior boasts the grand staircases and period fireplaces of yesteryear while still managing to remain modern, sleek and oh-so sophisticated. The colour scheme — monochrome with dashes of purple — is a charming combination; while bowler hats adorn the walls, chandeliers hang from ceilings and velvet-covered furniture can be lounged on in every room. What’s more, the setting couldn’t be better: it’s just a five-minute walk from Toulouse’s grand central square, Place du Capitole, but tucked down a tiny, centuries-old side street.
Set apart from the rest of the hotel, with four treatment rooms and a hamman, the spa at Le Cour des Consuls has an intimate feel. The staff are delightful and attentive without being overly effusive. When my friend and I arrive for our treatments, we’re greeted in both French and English, and my poor attempts at conversing are kindly indulged by both beauticians. Products used in the spa are made using the traditional local blue dye, woad, on which the city grew rich, a touching nod to local culture, while each room smells faintly of violet, the city’s famous winter flower.
Having recently started training for a triathlon, I arrive in Toulouse with an astonishing amount of aches and pains. It has to be a full-body massage. My friend and I opt for the bien-être en duo massage, undoubtedly intended for couples but which seemed appropriate in such a romantic hotel. After wittering away in broken French about having sore muscles, my therapist gently rubs some oil into my skin and begins. An hour later I leave absolutely convinced she has magic hands. My muscles feel supple, my skin soft as silk, and I’m so relaxed I almost float back upstairs to my room.
The bed really must take centre stage when summing up the deluxe suite we’re shown to after check-in. It’s absolutely enormous — space enough for my friend and I to starfish without so much as brushing toes — and so cloud-like we almost instantly sink into a stupor. The rest of the room is equally as heavenly. Two huge windows look down onto the street below — perfect for people-watching — and the bathroom comes equipped with his-and-hers (or in this case hers-and-hers) sinks, and a huge ornate standalone bathtub that sadly we don’t have time to use. We do, however, make the most of the cosy robes hanging on the wall next to the bath — they’re perfect for throwing on after a day exploring the city.
Eat & drink
When in France, one must eat cheese for breakfast — or have the option to at the very least. Goat’s cheese, Camembert, Boursin, brie; this breakfast proves that La Cour des Consuls and I are going to get along famously. But, if a 9am cheese feast isn’t your bag, fear not, this breakfast buffet extends far beyond dairy. The spread really is sublime. Expect all the usual buffet essentials: sausages, bacon, mushrooms, beans, plus a whole lot more. Eggs any way you like them can be ordered from the table, and smoked salmon sits folded in beautifully pink piles next to a variety of breads and pastries that would make any Frenchman proud.
A charming hotel, ideally located for exploring Toulouse. The only downside: the beds are so comfortable that getting up and out to explore the city will be a daily challenge.
A double-room at La Cour des Consuls Hôtel & Spa Toulouse – MGallery by Sofitel starts from £198 a night. The one-hour bien-etre en duo massage costs €190 (£166).
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