Grand Hôtel Nègre Coste, Aix-en-Provence $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
Smack in the middle of Aix-en-Provence's bustling Cours Mirabeau, this hotel is a bargain-priced gem of old-school grandeur—slightly rough around the edges, but in the most atmospheric way. Don't let its location next to a garish neon-lit store put you off. The narrow lobby of the city's first hotel leads up marble stairs and into a maze of wide corridors. Rooms are furnished with antiques and gaping French windows; we recommend the superior rooms for their king-size beds, and, in some rooms, ancient, grandiose writing desks. Walls are done up in classic silk wallpaper; the bathrooms seem to have been left unrenovated since the 1970s, but that's part of the charm. Underground parking is available and recommended, since there's nowhere to stash your car on the Cours Mirabeau or on the tiny streets behind the hotel. Staff is friendly, though services are limited—you can ask at the desk for advice, but don't expect much in the way of concierge services, dry cleaning, or other full-service options.
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