More about Couvent des Minimes - Alliance Lille
After 40 years and newly retired, I decided to return to France in search of my pen friend, Christiane, who lives in Tourcoing, not far from Lille. So I booked 3 nights with my sister at the Couvent des Minimes from the 6th of March.
The hotel is just out of the centre near to the old part of the town. It looks out onto a "bief", a small quay in front of the hotel.
The public rooms are surrounded by a magnificent cloister which was restored from the original convent 15 years ago. Our original bedroom was rather dark so I asked for another and was given one at the front on the 1st floor. It looked out onto the cloister at the back. It was spacious and comfortable with a nice marble bathroom.
We did not eat in the dining room apart from breakfast and we were told by our French friends that it was expensive to eat there. However, breakfast was ample with lots of choice. The bread and croissants were delicious.
There was a selection of drinks and a kettle in the room but no "real" milk and when I rang down, they sent up a jug of cold milk so that we could have a proper cup of tea.
The staff were very friendly and welcoming. I went to the Museum of De Gaulle and other places while my sister hit the shops. They are very stylish. If you can, do pay a visit to a lovely chocolate shop which serves tea, hot chocolate etc behind the shop. It is called Meert and the decor of the shop is quite beautiful and ornate.
Lille has a lot to offer now but you cannot compare it with Paris. It is easy to get about on foot although the picturesque cobbles are hard on the feet! In September there is a famous "braderie"(huge flea market) which lasts a few days, so it would be a good time for a short visit.
I would recommend this hotel and our French friends confirmed that in their opinion it is the best hotel in Lille.
After reading some of the reviews I was dreading our 3rd floor bedroom! However it was an excellent large room overlooking the water outside. The staff were very helpful, spoke excellent English in spite of our sorry attempts at French. We also went on a cheap newspaper break, along with the majority of the hotel guests by the looks of it, but didn't find we were treated shabbily in the slightest. (Breakfast was included in our price by the way). The hotel is only a 15 min walk through the town to the station and is a good choice for a weekend break. Warning though - Lille is freezing in February!!
Quiet, with charm and friendliness
From the reception staff to the, catering staff, chamber maids and bar staff, the service was genuinely pleasant. The staff at the bar were very friendly and polite and seemed like they really enjoyed being part of the hotel staff.
The hotel has carried on with the convent quiet tradition and all patrons seem to conform to this unspoken etiquette.
We're going back in April, booked already!
Damien/Paula - London/Essex
Fantastic hotel, though probably more suitable for business users
My partner and I stayed at this gorgeous hotel midweek in February 06 and it was just as good as the reviews on here proclaimed it to be. We were taken to the third floor and our double room was tiny (if I was only staying 1 night, I would not have done this), so we asked if we could move. We were shown two other rooms and picked a twin room on the first floor which was huge and vey luxurious! They even pushed the beds together for us and changed the bedding to make them into a huge double bed although I said this wasn't necessary. They went out of their way to be helpful, which was great!
The bar was lovely as it sits in what used to be the courtyard of the convent. The huge glass roof makes it very light and airy. It was however very expensive - even by British standards! The restaurant is highly recommended - the food is great and not too pricey compared to other restaurants in Lille. I would say it lacks atmosphere though, it could have been designed slghtly better.
There were many business travellers at the hotel and it appears to be a popular venue for big meetings/conferences, so I wouldn't recommend staying there during the day monday-friday if you are a tourist - it's very busy.
Location was great, not more than a ten minute stroll to the centre. However, Lille is not the best city to visit if you are English (or if you can't afford to spend alot - it's so expensive). In the hotel itself and the surrounding bars and restaurants, few people could speak english and our French is quite limited. We didn't find one restaurant that had a menu written in english and no-one could translate, so we often had to guess what we were about to be served! Learn as much French as you can before you go.
Excellent hotel - a perfect stay
Beautiful hotel in a beautiful waterside location. Hotel has its own safe and secure parking (12 Euros for 24 hours). Reception and other staff very friendly and helpful, room was excellent and very clean, the bed was extremely comfortable and the bathroom spotless.
What was particularly nice was the way in which the hotel had used its historical surroundings to great -effect - the balconies and the atrium-type covered courtyard made for a wonderful setting and the thick brick walls made the room nice and quiet too.
A fine hotel in a fine setting
Our third floor room was attic-y and quite charming but had no view at all and was just a bit past its best. But if you are thinking of staying here, do go ahead: it's a stylish conversion with friendly staff. Breakfast is excellent - lots of choice and plentiful. Set by a quiet unused canal, it's about ten minutes from Vieille Lille and over the road from the park, which is worth a stroll around (and has a smallish free zoo).
n.b. Lille is vegetarian hell and, if vegan, stay away!
Less character than we expected but otherwise fine
Came here with five friends on a Eurostar city break in late March 2006. We are all in our 20s.
Rooms were clean, shower excellent. My partner and I were allocated a very spacious double room, much larger than our friends' two twin rooms (which were also lovely).
On two occasions we had to loiter around the lobby waiting for someone to staff the reception desk. Waited maybe five minutes for someone to turn up. When they were there the staff were excellent and helpful and coped well when faced with streams of guests.
Our main feeling was that the hotel had less character than what the hotel website led us to believe. Yes, it used to be a convent but now it feels very functional and geared towards conferences. The entrance and reception area in particular reminded us of a middle-range chain hotel. I don't think it is the best choice in Lille for romantics.
Lille was good for a two-day break. We found a decent restaurant called La Cave Gourmande about ten minutes' walk from the hotel, it had set menus for €21 and €27. Also for lunch we tried A l'Huitererie which the author of our guidebook raved about. For two courses and no wine (but mineral water) it came to €60 per head - try it if you like seafood. A coriander fish dish was very tasty. However I do wish that we'd dressed in nicer clothes to fit in with the surroundings!
Comfortable, but really nothing special
There is nothing wrong with this hotel: just that there is nothing special either! My wife and I stayed here for a long weekend.
The room was quite dire: a tiny window (less than 1 sq metre) inset into a sloping roof, so there was virtually no natural light, and no view. However, it did have air conditioning, and it was roomy. The bathroom was fine.
You have to look very hard for the features of the convent: most of the hotel was exactly like any other modern 4* conference hotel. Breaksfast was OK, but I have had much better croissants etc in other hotels.
The setting is not marvellous, either. It is a short distance from the town centre etc: however, accessing these areas of interest entails a walk through very quite, and not particularly attractive streets. We didn't see anything intimidating, but there was no one about, and the streets are not brightly lit. We travelled to/from the Eurostar terminal by taxi (10 Euros max).
One good point: we did get a late checkout 17:00 hours.
Incidentally, there is no gym nor pool: don't know why there is a rating for the pool.
Great for a weekend away
We stayed at the Alliance Lille for a weekend in July. We booked pretty much at the last minute and got I think a really good deal for the weekend. The hotel is about 5-10 minutes walk from the main square in Lille and about 20mins from Lille Europe train station. For exploring the town it made a good base.
The staff were very professional and helpful, we were there to soak up the atmosphere of the World Cup final and they gave us plenty of suggestions of where to watch it and what to look out for.
The room was not huge but comfortable with a good bathroom and good bed. Our room (on the 4th floor) was really quiet and we got 2 really good nights sleep. The hotel is off the main road so is pretty quiet, our room was also not one of the ones directly off the main atrium, I would imagine that those get some noise from the restaurant at night and in the morning.
I found the layout very pleasant - the main atrium is really light and modern and after a hard day's shopping we ate in the hotel restaurant as well and found it absolutely fine - decent food and pretty big portions.
Lille is a town that has undergone a huge change over the past few years, with old buildings being completely revamped and new ones being put up. With many of the hotels being characterless modern eyesores (Crowne Plaza in particular) I thought the Alliance Lille was a really good option for a reasonably priced weekend break...assuming you get a good price for the rooms!