The entrance of this three-storey 17th century house, with its brass dolphins on the door, gives a slightly misleading expectation of grandeur. In fact, it's a modest two-star hotel decorated in traditional provençal style.
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Set on a street corner in the Mazarin Quarter, a few metres from the square of the same name with one of Aix's most famous and beautiful fountains, the Hotel des Quatre Dauphins is very compact.
The bedrooms are small, especially the single ones (though recent refurbishment has resulted in fewer, slightly larger rooms). There's a neither a garden nor much in the way of public rooms.
A cosy reception area on the ground floor (pictured below right) doubles up as a lounge and breakfast room. Painted warm yellow, it has a charmingly rustic feel, with pine country furniture and terracotta tiles, and at Christmas a provençal crib with santons is set up there.
Access to the bedrooms is up a narrow wooden staircase (there is no lift / elevator). They all look out onto the road, but are double-glazed and, in summer, air-conditioned.
However this is an old house in a busy part of town, so expect a certain level of noise by night both from inside the building and from the street.
The 13 rooms, all with basic, adequate bathrooms, are sparsely but attractively furnished. Each is done out slightly differently, with pretty printed indiennes fabrics, pine chairs with straw seats and furniture painted with olive branches and other provençal motifs. The top floor rooms have exposed beams.
The overall look can be summed up as shabby chic, Southern French style. Some visitor reports have dwelt on the shabby side rather than the chic one, but a certain amount of redecoration has been carried out recently.
Certainly the three rooms we visited (all of them doubles) were perfectly acceptable.
The hotel does not have its own parking, and so would not be a good choice for visitors with a car as the municipal car-parks, though nearby, can get rather expensive if used for a long period. There's an extra charge for breakfast and wi-fi.
Visited April 2011
Where: Hotel des Quatre Dauphins, 54 rue Roux Alphéran, 13100 Aix-en-Provence. Tel: +33 (4) 42 38 16 39. Fax: +33 (4) 42 38 60 19. Book a room at the Hotel des Quatre Dauphins