Gina Baksa enjoys modern aesthetics and country chateau refinement at the discreet Baudon de Mauny boutique hotel in Montpellier
Built in 1777 and named after its first owner, the grand building that houses Baudon de Mauny has been in the same family for seven generations. The entrance on Rue de la Carbonnerie in Montpellier’s pedestrian-only medieval quarter (Ecusson) is almost imperceptible.
The discreet invitation continues into the inner passageway and courtyard, leading to impressive stone steps leading up to the grand reception room. I’m immediately transported back in time; almost out of time.
The Baudon de Mauny is aesthetically intriguing: Period features and attention to detail are evident with the flagstone flooring (from the Hérault) replete with fossilised shells, hand-crafted gypsum, and featured natural stone and marble tiling. Yet there’s a minimalist modern aesthetic here too: a reception room with one wall and floors made of waxed steel, juxtaposed against red and orange Arper leather chairs, designed by Poltrana Frau.
It’s a mix that works. Cool but inviting. A chateau-en-ville atmosphere that is immediately warm and welcoming. As is the Bienvenue from charming concierge Maxime Simon, who guides me graciously into the impressive light-filled lounge.
High ceilings and ornate cornice are de rigueur here; the backdrop to art books on the impressive centre table, gilt mirrors and discreet lighting from Philippe Starck. There’s a choice of complimentary coffee, teas and an honesty bar here. Maxime is an amazing source of information about the history of the hotel and the local area.
Gold leaf gilding and stucco, 18th-century aesthetics against modern furniture and wallpaper, and lush curtains framing the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The view onto Rue du Cannau below is magical. This is Ecusson, the ancient heart of medieval Ecusson, replete with designer shops and independent cafés, bars and restaurants.
Architects Michelle Ferri and Vincent Castelnau have worked alongside the owner’s (Alain de Bordas) wife Nathalie to create a space that seamlessly integrates modern and ancien. They’ve created rooms and suites with great volume and warmth, integrating modern tech and air conditioning without compromising comfort or aesthetics.
There are a total of nine rooms and suites here, including two super-sized suites (Orchidées and Gypseries, both 70 sqm) which are the hotel’s largest. For a romantic bath à deux, choose Gypseries. All the other rooms are showers only.
I’m guided to my Junior Suite (Neige room) next to the dining area on the ground floor. It’s a beautiful space and ideal for a romantic weekend, as well as a refuge for solo travellers seeking to escape the 21st century and recharge.
The massive king-size bed against white stuccoed walls is especially comfortable and separated from the large exterior windows by a huge serigraphed glass and oak screen, that provides excellent sound and draft-proofing. A most modern touch against the plaster moulding and gilt mirror above the capacious bed. There’s an ensuite bathroom (shower no bath). And TV. Although I didn’t watch it once. Sleek and minimalist this is a surprisingly cosy room, the Scottish tartan throw adding accents of blue and brown against the neutral palette. Flagstones are the flooring here too, so bring slippers or use those provided.
The only surprise here is the minimal closet area behind the screen. Guests would be staying at least two nights, non?
There are two further suites on the ground floor: Pavots and Pavillons. Each with a distinct design (no two rooms are the same at Baudon de Mauny.
When I chat with owner Monsieur Bordas, he tells me he’s created a place to stay that is ‘out of time’. And he’s right. The atmosphere here is timeless and opening the exterior doors and stepping out later into early evening Ecusson was a shock.
There’s plenty to see in Ecusson the Baudon de Mauny is less than a five-minute walk from the superb Musée de Fabre and its collection of Flemish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and French works, from the 16th to the 18th centuries. I recommend you wander here sans map, but if you’re short on time, the tourist office arranges two-hour historical walking tours of Ecusson: taking you into mansion courtyards, past grand Haussmann buildings and boulevards, and narrow side streets with enchanting gardens and fountains. It’s winter during my visit, but Montpellier is charming whatever the weather.
My meal at La Maison de la Lozère (27 Rue de l’Aiguillerie) is superb: delicately cooked and prepared monkfish followed by a sublime warm chocolate soufflé fondant, in a beautiful vaulted dining room that’s smart but not intimidating. Excellent service here, and chef patrons Eric Cellier and Pierre Morel have consistently won awards for their innovative take on traditional French cuisine.
The exquisite golden-hued Montpellier limestone is once again the backdrop at breakfast the following morning. Served in the light-filled 14th-century internal courtyard adjacent to my suite with its stunning skylight at least 50 feet above. This cathedral-like space is quiet and intimate. Again, discreet design details are paramount here: lighting by Ingo Maurer and Molo Design. And truly beautiful ceramics from Uzès-based Sophie Lavaux perfectly displayed against the stonework.
Breakfast is set out in a black-walled ante-chamber that looks more Gothic art gallery than pantry. I loved the plates of delicious fresh croissants and bread, together with healthy fruit salads, organic cereals and yoghurts, jams, cheeses (Tomme de Brébis and Comté) and meats. Eggs are cooked to your liking: my cheese omelette was superb. Excellent coffee too.
I very much enjoyed my stay here, and highly recommended the Baudon de Mauny if you’re looking for a southern French city retreat in which to unwind and take a trip out of time to a quieter era. This charming boutique hotel is one of the best places to stay in Montpellier and is blessed with a superb concierge: Thank you Maxime for your welcoming and professional presence.
Baudon de Mauny – Where and How
Double rooms from £127.91 (€145), including tax at 10 per cent. Additional local city tax of €0.70 per person per night
Breakfast rates are 10€ or 19€, 10€ is express baudon breakfast and 19€ is buffet Baudon.