Hotel du Palais des papes, AvignonHotels in Avignon don't come much more central than the Hotel du Palais des Papes which, as its name suggests, on one side overlooks the Palais des Papes and on the other dominates the place de l'Horloge, the city's main square.

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Formerly the Spanish consulate, this listed building, parts of which date back to the 15th century, was converted into a hotel in 1921 and has remained in the same family ever since.

The rather labyrinthine interior, spliced together from two separate dwellings, offers 27 rooms on three floors arranged around a striking stone spiral staircase (yes, there's a lift / elevator too).

Most of them are light and bright with exposed brickwork, cream tiled floors and large, wrought-iron beds. Rooms 4 and 5 are the best bargains, with great views (room 5 is slightly larger and slightly more expensive).

On the downside, the central location has a price and many rooms, including these ones, overlook the place de l'Horloge which, with its very many bars and restaurants, can be noisy at night, especially during the Avignon Festival (the rooms overlooking the Palais des Papes are quieter).

Bedroom, Hotel du Palais des Papes, AvignonNote, too, that some rooms have fans rather than air-conditioning and can get very hot in the height of summer.

It forces you to choose between opening a window and suffering the street noise, or keeping it closed and sweltering. If you want a room with air-con (which does not cost extra), specify this at the time of booking.

The - for this location - very modest room price includes free wi-fi, but not breakfast (which is not recommended) or parking, though hotel guests can get a small discount at the nearby underground car-park.

Le Lutrin restaurant terrace, Hotel du Palais des papes, AvignonThe hotel offers full- and half-board as well as rooms and its restaurant, Le Lutrin (The Lectern), is worth considering, even if you're not a guest.

It serves simple provençal cuisine and has two outdoor terraces overlooking the Palais (pictured) and the place de l'Horloge.

For cold weather, there are two inner dining rooms, one modern and one decorated in cosy mediaeval style with an open fireplace and exposed beams offering good traditional cuisine.

Visited November 2011

Where: 3 place du Palais, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 86 04 13. Book a room at the Hotel du Palais des Papes

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