16th September 2018
La Matelote Hotel - Magnifique
La Matelote on the sea front of Boulogne sur Mer in Pas de Calais, Northern France is a family-run hotel and restaurant combined. It offers excellent food in its Michelin Star restaurant and a warm welcome in its cosy hotel. The unusual furnishings feature some beautiful modern interpretations of La Matelote, the fishermen’s wives who, traditionally, wore distinctive head dresses. This acknowledgement of a local tradition is a source of pride to the hotel owners, father and son, Tony and Stellio Lestienne.
La Matelote has evolved from a restaurant of the same name established by local man Tony Lestienne in 1979. He was awarded a Michelin star in 1982. Today the restaurant is at the heart of a hotel of the same name that has grown up around it by taking over several houses beside it. An unusual and charming characteristic of the building is the retention of the original staircases – making guests wonder if they are seeing a reflection. They are a reminder that this hotel is definitely unique.
Over the years this hotel has spread across several adjoining buildings and therefore the rooms are all different. But they are all beautifully furnished and comfortable with a television, fridge, telephone, tea and coffee making facilities, toiletries and bath robe. I felt very at home in my home and was impressed by the efficient use that had been made of the space available.
The hotel takes great pride in its Michelin star restaurant, a standard it has maintained for over thirty-five years now. The food was beautifully cooked, very tasty and beautifully presented. My meal was preceded by an amuse bouche and concluded with a plate of stunning petit fours. I ordered a fruit salad for my dessert, unaware that this was one of their signature dishes. It was an exquisite combination of fresh fruit, a trio of sorbets and a crunchy brandy snap.
Breakfast was served in a small dining room off the snug next to the front door. The extensive buffet included a good variety of fresh breads, hot food, a cold buffet of fruit, hams and cheeses and a boil your own egg machine. A real luxury was the orange juicer for those who like to indulge in fresh orange juice for breakfast. I was impressed when my coffee arrived at my table almost before I did on my second morning.
On entering through the front door it felt more like entering a home rather than a hotel. The small reception area is the hub of the house with a bar off this area on one side, a snug on the other side and a narrow corridor that leads to the restaurant. The rooms and corridors are tastefully furnished and the theme of La Matelot is reflected on the walls and by a stunning centre piece in the entrance to the restaurant.
A relaxation area on the first floor of the hotel includes a small swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sun loungers. Adjacent to this area is a hammam and a sauna and fitness equipment occupies the two small rooms that lead to it.
La Matelot is opposite Boulogne sur Mer’s most well-known attraction, Nausicaa, one of the top four aquariums in the world and definitely worth a visit. An extensive, sandy beach stretches along the sea front on either side of Nausicaa. Rows of beach huts stretch along it and the huge beach is perfect for land yachting, an activity that was invented here. The old walled town (a twenty-minute walk from the hotel) with its narrow cobbled streets and complete circle of walls is also well worth a visit.