Gazing from my sun-filled balcony over the majestic neoclassical brick and stone facade of the 11th century Place du Capitole in Toulouse was a highlight of my stay in the Grand Hotel de l’Opera.
Occupying two historic buildings, one of which was a former monastery, this 55-room, 4-star property enjoys pride of place in the heart of the so-called ‘Pink City’ beside City Hall and the opera theatre.
Rather than ultra-modern design and decor, be prepared to revel in lavish furnishings comprising velvet armchairs, Toile de Jouy wallpaper, chandeliers and decorative carpets and an old winding wood and brass staircase – a nod to the hotel’s 17th-century origins. You may be left feeling you’re in the middle of a period drama.
In reference to the neighbouring opera house, a series of intricately designed carnival-style Venetian masks adorn the ground-floor, glass-ceilinged bar. Plush sofas and velvet armchairs, full length mirrors, gleaming brass lamps, gold-colored tables with black legs and a ceiling painted with a botanical motif make this a most relaxing setting for an aperitif after a day’s sight-seeing.
Most guest rooms overlook the inner courtyard, but we were fortunate to stay in Room 104 with picture-perfect views directly on to the spacious Place de Capitole bordered on one side by restaurant terraces and the nearer side by and the ornate Corinthian pillars and arches of the City Hall (Capitolium) and the opera.
Reflecting the hotel’s extravagant style, many rooms feature a bold ‘Opera Red’ or ‘Sun Yellow’ colour theme. Ours was definitely the former, with carpet, curtains, walls, armchairs, even the checkered bed-board, all in vivid red. Framed pencil sketches decorating the walls gave light relief. We were impressed by the gray and white marbled bathroom with toiletries by Nuxe from Paris. Appliances included television, minibar, Nespresso machines and tea-making facilities.
While the Grand Hotel de l’Opera doesn’t have it own restaurant, there are many to choose from nearby. Buffet breakfast of charcuterie, cheeses, bacon, sausages, fresh fruit and pastries is hosted in an intimate, elegant room, chandelier above the entrance and crisp white tablecloths. Theo, our server, was friendly and efficient.
In the corridor, take a moment to admire the eclectic collection of framed French 19th century pencil cartoons.
The hotel caters for personal and professional events in two meeting rooms, the high vaulted red-brick Capitouls Lounge accommodating up to 50 people and the more intimate Verrière Lounge with a capacity of twenty-five.
Being so centrally-located, we walked to many of the city’s main highlights. Don’t miss the permanent art exhibition in the Capitole and charming walk along the banks of the Garonne River wherewith views across the city. The Musée des Augustins, a fine arts museum with a collection of sculpture and paintings from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, is just five minutes by foot and the nearest metro station is barely a hundred meters away.