With its discreet black door, the sober façade of 28 à Aix, tucked away in an historic 17th century street in the Mazarin Quarter, conceals one of the most luxurious B&Bs in town, with prices to fit.
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28 offers three suites and a bedroom, all decked out in a slightly dizzy blend of ultra-contemporary and traditional baroque.
The presiding genius is Charles Montemarco, who has also been behind such other modish Aix hostelries as the Hotel Cézanne and the Villa Gallici, as well as the Michelin-starred Le petit Nice restaurant-hotel in Marseille.
The rooms are very generously proportioned. The high-end furnishings include four-poster beds, designer bathrooms and Bang & Olufsen flat screen televisions.
An espresso coffee machine is on the landing and Suite Three has a private terrace.
The decor is a little over-the-top, but tempered by the fact that it's all in shades of restful beige, taupe and cream. Adorned with modern art, the public salons and shop on the ground floor are more flamboyantly coloured.
Breakfast and teas are served - sun permitting - in a small but lovely south-facing garden at the back (there's also a raised mezzanine public terrace to catch any lingering late afternoon rays).
The friendly and refreshingly informal personnel will advise you on the best restaurants and everything else to perfect your stay.
The downsides: This may either be a minus or a massive bonus in your eyes, but 28 is an hôtel particulier rather than a Hotel with a capital 'H'.
Accordingly, at the end of the afternoon the staff all discreetly melt away: you'll be given the door entry code and an "emergency phone number".
After that you're left to relax as though the house were your own (we're assured that to date no-one has abused this privilege). As with numerous other hotels in old houses in central Aix, there's no lift / elevator.
Visited January 2011
Where: 28 rue du 4 Septembre, 13100 Aix en Provence. Tel: (+33) 4 42 54 82 01. Fax: (+33) 4 42 53 10 13. Book a room at 28 à Aix