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Late Checkout is TQE’s travel vertical. Whether you’re seeking an Eat Pray Love moment of your own, or a wholesome family sojourn, we hope you embark on an adventure requisite of a late checkout below.
Paris gets over 44 million visitors a year, which is evident if you’ve ever spent time there—you’ll find queues for every tourist attraction, lines at Maison Goyard and the flagship Louis Vuitton store, and advance reservations required at most renowned restaurants in the city center. If navigating crowds isn’t your thing, I’d suggest hopping on the TGV and heading two hours south to Bordeaux for an equally chic, yet dare I say, more enjoyable French getaway.
This historic port city, in comparison to the French capital, only gets about a half a million tourists a year, giving it a more authentically local vibe. But there is no shortage of exceptional gastronomy, shopping, or culture (like the Cité du Vin, an entire museum dedicated to wine). On my last visit to France, I decided to take a few days to enjoy Bordeaux, booking a room at Hôtel Singulier in the Gambetta district.
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The impeccable service at this hotel started before I even arrived—the staff contacted me in the days prior to confirm my arrival time so that someone could greet me. The reception desk is only open from 7:30 am to 8 pm, and I was scheduled to travel when there were strikes happening all over France that could have delayed my train. Luckily, everything ran as expected and I arrived at the Bordeaux train station during rush hour. I called an Uber to take me on a short ride to Hôtel Singulier, located on a side street just off of Place Gambetta, the geographic center of Bordeaux.
As we pulled to the curb, the glass door of the hotel opened and Pierre, the hotel’s manager, greeted me by name and let me into the intimate lobby. Rich green velvet banquettes lined the mirrored wall, facing a number of small tables where guests can enjoy breakfast or a beverage. There’s no obvious reception desk, just a stand that houses a tablet for a quick check-in/out and a staircase that leads to the hotel’s rooms. (Be advised that there’s no elevator, due to the building's historic status which prevents them from adding one.)
Even Better Than the 'Gram
Pierre whisked my baggage up the stairs and let me into my jaw-droppingly gorgeous hotel room, even better than the photos I’d scoped out on Instagram prior to my trip. My “Deluxe” accommodation featured a very comfortable king bed, dual sinks, an enormous waterfall shower, and a sitting area. There’s a mini-bar and coffee machine tucked into the closet, plush robes and slippers, a supply of luxury toiletries from the “Memoires de’Été” line by Anne Semonin, hair dryer, and climate control (including A/C) which is often difficult to find in European hotels. The hotel also offers free WiFi and satellite TV — I almost didn’t spot the Samsung “The Frame” because it blends so seamlessly into the room’s decor. Every detail—from fixtures to moldings to appliances—has been thoughtfully done with “haute de gamme” (high-end) materials.
This boutique hotel has seven units total: two 20m² Superior rooms, two 30m² Deluxe rooms, a 31m² Junior Suite, a ground-floor 25m² Executive Double room, and an Apartment equipped with a bed and a sofa bed. At night, the hotel becomes a private sanctuary — guests are given an access code to get into the property once the front desk staff leaves for the evening, and should any problems arise, the owners are available by text and phone 24/7. Breakfast (made in-house) is available to enjoy in the lobby or in your room for 19€ per person: in fact the smell of baking croissants had permeated the entire lobby by the time I came downstairs in the morning. The rooftop of the building is also open to enjoy, offering a spectacular panoramic view of the city. It’s a fantastic place to bring a bottle of wine and relax while the sun sets.
Location, Location, Location
While it would have been tempting to simply luxuriate in our suite all day, one of the biggest draws of Hôtel Singulier is its location. Around the corner lies the Porte Dijeaux, one of the entrances into a historic, walkable part of the city. (Pro tip: I spent almost every day in French-designed Veja sneakers for hours of strolling around in chic comfort, with a healthy slathering of Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen to protect against UV rays). The surrounding streets are lined with an array of shops, from independent clothing and jewelry boutiques to famed French bookseller Librairie Mollat and pastry shop Canelés Baillardran (where you simply must have a canelé, the emblematic pastry of Bordeaux). We also brought back over 100€ of tinned fish from Nouvelle Vague, a boutique that specializes in seafood conserves.
Instead of opting for the hotel’s breakfast, we walked two blocks to Gllm Guillaume, a boulangerie that uses only very local ingredients. You’ll find a number of quaint cafés and spectacular restaurants within a ten-minute walk (shoutout to Chez Bibi on Rue du Hâ, whose affordable-yet-elevated, seasonal menu is served alongside a heavy dose of reggae and smiling faces). If you want to venture further away, you’re a four minute walk from the tramway, which can whisk you anywhere in town for just 1.70€ — we used this to ride from the center of the city to the Bordeaux airport on our last day.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Hôtel Singulier was the perfect landing pad for relaxing between our adventures around the city — even though it’s a hotel, its tucked-away location and laid-back vibe gave us a taste of local living. After this particular stay in Bordeaux, I now understand why Parisians have been flocking here since they opened up a direct TGV train line. It’s vibrant but relaxed, with many of the same comforts of the capital city, minus the overwhelming amount of tourists. I will never not love Paris, but Bordeaux has earned a très special place in my heart.