Premier Classe Hotels (PCH)
I spent six nights in this hotel recently. As it was part of a two-week tour that included three other PCHs as well, I have taken the liberty of providing some general comments about them that I hope will help. Specific comments for this hotel appear at the end of the piece.
For the price, I think the PCH are reasonably good value. This was confirmed by the high level of occupancy (mainly by French people) at all four we stayed at. However, you do need to know some important things about them (the hotels, not the French - we don't have enough time to do that!). The first is that their chosen title is aspirational, not actual (much like the oxymorons 'Military Intelligence' or 'Political Elite'). I realise they couldn't call them Troisieme Classe but it would probably be more appropriate.
Firstly they should be called 'Motels', not 'Hotels'. This makes it much easier to understand what to expect. I reckon they are ideal for a one- or two-night cheap stay while passing through a place or staying a weekend. We did both short (1 day) and long (5-6 day) stops. My wife is just about speaking to me again after our five- and six-day stays in Montpellier and Perpignan.
As 'motels' they are mainly situated very close to noisy motorways/main roads. They have to be! If you are of a sensitive nature and easily disturbed by road noise, then either ensure you have comfortable earplugs or try to get a room as far away from the road as possible. The room should also be on the East side of the building so that the afternoon/evening sun doesn't heat up your room too much. Also be aware that while some PCHs have airconditioning, this is either 'hot' or 'cold', not both. Thus in our stay at Perpignan, where it is now considered 'winter' (daytime temperatures about 28 degrees C!) the aircon was set to only warm up the room, not cool it. If you are too hot in the night (as we were) you have to leave the small single window open which then adds to the intensity of the road noise.
Being close to main roads also means not being close (usually) to many restaurants or shops. Assuming you are in a car (don't even think of trying this by public transport!) you should be able to find something decent. The large French supermarkets like Carrefour, LeClerc, Geant and Auchan or often within a short driving distance and all seem to have very good and cost effective restaurants attached.
Talking of noise, the people that populate PCHs (particularly over weekends) can be very boisterous. There are signs all over the place asking them to keep quiet after 22:00 but these are generally ignored. It seems to be a foreign concept to them, much similar to the attitudes on French and Italian roads where the principle of 'keeping a safe following distance' doesn't work either.
The rooms are very small. I paced out the standard size at about 5m by 2.5m. This is bad enough but then they put a prefabricated shower/toilet/sink room in the one corner. The concept is similar to Ibis (which you may have seen in the UK) where they are dropped in as the building goes up. It works fine for size in the Ibis, but unfortunately not so well in PCH which could perhaps be called 'Ibis Lite'. The size of the main room is about two thirds of an Ibis: the ablutions are more 'campervan' size plus about 20%: OK for short stays but gets very wearing after a few days. On the positive side at least the price per night is about half the Ibis.
There also seem to be two classes of PCH in terms of furniture. 'Class A' (eg Montpellier Sud and Orleans Sud) have shelves for your clothes and a proper hanging space. There are also two electric plugs available, one of them at the desk by the window. 'Class B' have no shelves or hanging space. There is a bent pipe near the window with four hangers on it. Luckily there is a gap under the beds where you can store your suitcase with your clothes in. There is only one plug in a ridiculous place next to the washroom light switch.
Longer Stays - Survival Kit
If you think you are a hardier soul than me and decide to ignore my recommendation to avoid stays longer than two days then I have some survival suggestions for you:
1. If there is more than one of you, take an extra hand towel. PCH only supply two bath-size towels per room.
2. If there is more than one of you, take an extra pillow - they only provide one per person.
3. There is no tea making facility so take a travel kettle with you if you don't like machine-made beverages from the machine in the reception. We bought a Philips one for £15 from Robert Dyas. You can buy ingredients at the local supermarkets.
4. If you don't want to pay four quid each for breakfast, then take your own bowls and cutlery for cereal etc or buy in the supermarket.
5. There is no fridge so no way to store any breakfast ingredients.
6. If you want to book through a travel website like Expedia, only do so for a couple of nights so you can see what PCH is like. If you want to move because you don't like it, you lose 100% of what you've paid in advance. Much better to book directly with the hotel once you decide you actually want to complete the rest of your intended stay.
7. There are no lounges apart from the breakfast room which isn't always open, so you can get cabin fever. There also aren't usually many nice places to walk around so you'll need to get out in your car (or ensure you get back late in the evening from your trips!).
8. Take an adjustable sink plug with you - even the replacements PCH might provide for the missing ones are usually the wrong size.
Notes for business travellers
While my trip was personal, I do travel quite a lot for business and so have a few suggestions:
1. If you are being paid a per diem rate for T & E and want to save money, then PCH would be OK for a few days. However, if you intend to work in your room don't be attracted by the Free WiFi offered. There is just no room to move and in a Class B
you'd have no power close. Or a decent light.
2. If your boss insists you stay in a PCH with no additional compensation then resign immediately and look for another job.
PCH Perpignan Sud - Specific comments:
1. We stayed here six nights.
2. 'Class B' - see notes above.
3. In a very noisy area with only one Buffalo Bill restaurant closeby (don't go there) and nowhere to walk to really. We ended up mainly going to the 'Flunch' restaurant in the Auchun supermarket about a half a kilometre away for supper which was very good and low cost. We also got our breakfast supplies from Auchun.
4. The main N900 road is very close and so you should try to get a room as far South and East in the building as you can. Our first night there was a nightmare as we were on the West side and the aircon was set to hot. Christophe the manager was very good and moved us to near the South East corner the next day which was a lot less noisier.
5. The airconditioning was set to 'hot' so our first night was totally unbearable as the afternoon sun had baked the room nicely. I ended up at 05:00 asking whether we could get a credit on the remaining five days but was told there is a 100% penalty for Expedia bookings. Hence the compromise move to room 39 that at least was a bit quieter and cooler as it was on the East side. It had three beds in it and so I was able to use the extra pillow and the upper bed for storing clothes.
6. The beach is further away than I thought it would be - say half an hour to St Cyprien Plage.
7. Perpignan is a bit depressing but at least you're only about 20 mins away.
8. The area is superb and raised our spirits. Obviously the Pyrenees are great but there also some gems like Aigues Mortes and Sommieres plus Figueres (for Salvador Dali museum) in Spain.
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- Also Known As:
- Premiere Classe Hotel Perpignan
- Perpignan Premiere Classe Hotel