“ Address: Front de Mer / BP 214 / 62520 Le Touquet / France / Tel: (+33)3/21098500 „
The Novotel Le Touquet is a hotel like no other I have ever stayed in. It's right on the beach at the end of the long promenade that makes up Le Touquet's sea front, which I can most accurately describe as having somewhat of a personality disorder, for reasons I shall explain. To cut to the chase, in what is a pricey resort it's a good choice if you want to enjoy the delights of Le Touquet's sandy beach, and having stayed there 3 nights I would stay again, even given some of the peculiarities of this particular Novotel. Let me explain....
The Resort and Reasons to Visit:
A hop skip and a jump from Calais, (it's about an hour down the toll motorway) Le Touquet is a bit like the Torquay of the Northern coast - it's a bit of a toy town, I believe it was built by a rich newspaper owner at the end of the 18th century, and vestiges of what made it the playground of Noel Coward and the like in the 1920's can be seen as you go around the town itself. The hotel destination at that time was the oh-so-smart Westminster, which still exists today.
Le Touquet is a clean and leafy town with smart houses dotted amongst the pine trees and dunes and plenty of beach attractions. This part of the Cote Opale does tend to be pretty windy so you will find kite surfers galore on the beach at low tide, whilst kids' clubs are dotted along the beach. Most of the main street is full of lovely architecture from when the town was constructed, it's a great destination if you want to go on a short break to France - given all that I have said, the fact that in the 1970's the Novotel was built bang smack on the sea front of this still classy resort is a little astonishing.
The hotel itself:
You can't tell from the photo above that though right on the beach the hotel from the outside is 1970's architecture at its worst. Given that concrete bunkers that are a hangover from the War still pepper the coast, the choice of concrete to create what is, by any measure, an ugly building (link to pic at bottom of review) is astonishing. The hotel is pretty horrible to look at from the outside, it has a flat roof, and it stretches over quite a distance as it is actually connected to a spa, which in turn is connected to the Ibis Hotel.
Inside, however, the hotel is actually very nice, it was refurbished a few years ago and prettified a little - the vibe in reception is contemporary chic. There are 149 rooms, which are either sea view or an optimistically described "dune view" - we chose the latter, which was cheaper but essentially means "room overlooking the car park".
Talking of the car park, it's free and gated, which is a good thing for guests as on busy summer days the resort does get very busy, and parking in the resort is relatively expensive by French standards at 2E an hour (non paying over siesta time and after 7pm).
Hotel guests also have use of the sea water heated swimming pool at the heart of the complex. This is where the identity issue I mentioned at the start arises in my opinion - essentially you are going to stay at this hotel if you are either a family who want to go to the beach, or a slightly older guest who wants to use the spa facilities and wander around in a white dressing gown, anyone falling into any other demographic just looks a bit lost. I fell into the first group, and hence didn't wear a dressing gown in the bar or on the sun deck, I did, however marvel at the longevity of some of the dressing gown wearers, who were mainly French and of the prone to tutting in the presence of children breed.
The swimming pool was stunning - it had a huge window so you could look out to the sea mid swim, and the salt water was pleasantly warm - towels were provided for guests. You could also exchange a card to be given those robes and towels for the duration of your stay -the card had a dire warning about losing it (in English and French), but in the event of us checking out we weren't asked to prove we hadn't smuggled out a gown (we hadn't).
The hotel has 9 accessible rooms (from that car park) and also welcomes pets. Children can stay for free in their parents room, a pull out sofa bed will sleep up to 2 children.
As I already mentioned I stayed in one of the "cheaper" non sea view rooms, so not the one that dooyoo have shown, but similar in decor. Though having no view it still set us back £150 in peak season - not including breakfast (180 Euros) and we would have had to pay 240 euros for a sea view room with a balcony. A very good 12% cashback from quidco on this sugar coated the deal for us. As for the different rooms - they all looked the same size to me, you are paying for the direct access to the beach and for the fact that Le Touquet is an expensive resort.
The room itself was pleasant, but on the smaller side of Novotel rooms. There was a trace of that 1970's architecture in the interior too - the room was all white pebble dash, and the window was fairly small - it was a bit like being in a cave. That said the rooms are comfy enough, there's satellite TV and use of a mini bar/fridge and all the usual comforts of a Novotel. You did have to pay for wi-fi however, where I've found it to be free in less prime-position hotels in the chain.
At night the rooms were very quiet, partly due to the fact that the other guests seemed to retire quite early, there were a few notices about not letting children make noise or run up and down, and no noise after 10 - this was all fine by me. I suspect the aircon in the room may not have worked in full - this to me was actually not a problem as I don't like the whirring of them, but it may bother you. The bathroom was small but had all the necessary things - a powerful shower with plentiful hot water, and though the room was bijoux there was a separate toilet. All the lights were of those kind that only work with the room key/card - the lighting was good, and the room was very clean, if a little "beige on pebble dash".
All in all we were very pleased with the room, especially given the fact that it took us less than 1 minute to be on the beach, from where we trailed sand through the bar on a regular basis along with all the rest of the family contingent.
Breakfast was buffet style, and free for children staying with parents, though still expensive at over 13 euros. We ate it once, it was the normal Novotel fare with a nice choice of pastries, fruit, meats and even sausages of sorts. Service was pleasant, and in the beach bar also amiable - though everything was rather expensive, a salad on the terrace would set you back over £10. The restaurant in the adjoining Ibis was noticeably cheaper and more relaxed, that said we were never made to feel uncomfortable and the dress code was relaxed, but we did prefer to go to the cafes and eateries in town which were much better value. On Friday nights the hotel has seafood nights - we had a look into the restaurant to see piles of Oysters and Lobsters buffet stylee that, if that's your bag, may even have been worth the 44 Euro bill. The restaurant was on the pricey side and the view was spectacular, it wasn't somewhere we ate in the evening, but it did seem popular with the smarter guests.
If you want to stay use the Spa (the Thalassa) or be in a great location, in my opinion the Novotel is a good choice. I enjoyed my stay there, though compared to other hotels in the chain I did feel it was rather expensive, though luckily for me we had good weather during our stay, if it had rained I imagine it would have been rather grim. I did find the dressing gown thing a bit weird, and though this is billed as a family hotel, I think bar being able to house the children in our room, (and a token x-box in the entrance) there wasn't actually much that was very child friendly about the hotel. As a place to sleep it was comfortable, quiet and clean, but it is on the expensive side. Recommended if you want to spend time on the beach - or like wearing dressing gowns and doing the spa thing.
More details and glorious arial view of 1970's building: