On longer stays I may look for charm, heritage, and a view, but when I’m on the road for work there are a few creature comforts that keep me very happy on a short in-and-out trip: a comfortable bed with crisp linen, a power shower, fast Wi-Fi and strong morning coffee.
On my overnight stay at the Novotel Lille Centre Gares it felt reassuring to find all boxes ticked. The friendly greeting, quick check-in, light airy contemporary decor, and short walking distance from the train station were a bonus.
The city of Lille  in the north of France is the perfect layover destination. The town is compact; you can walk from the TGV or Eurostar to a restaurant, an art gallery, or the exquisite Palais des Beaux Arts. It has a hard-working industrial past and a cuisine to match. For the road-weary pilgrim a dish of local carbonade (beef braised in beer) in an estaminet, washed down with a local brew, is guaranteed to bring back a glow to the cheek.
The Novotel Centre Gares in Lille is only a 5-minute walk from where you step off the train –you don’t even have to cross the road if you exit the Lille Flandres station and hug the sidewalk to the left. I had arrived on the TGV in the morning and had made my way through two enormous exhibition spaces, the world-class Palais des Beaux Arts and the dynamic Tripostal contemporary art center, so by early evening I was grateful that the location of the hotel was so convenient.
In the room I found complimentary tea, coffee, Evian and Pellegrino water, free Wi-Fi (fast), and to my delight a bluetooth speaker that connected wirelessly to my device. It made me feel instantly at home to kick back and listen to my favourite playlist while I checked my emails. The bathroom was sleek and contemporary, with a power shower, bathtub, and … ladies, … a powerful hairdryer, good lighting, and big mirror. The little details that make a difference when you need to get ready on a tight schedule.
If you have the time, the breakfast buffet can match any appetite. There was ham, sausages, eggs, cereals, fruit, and a good selection of cheeses and freshly baked bread. I go strictly continental on early starts, so it was a flaky croissant, orange juice, mug of coffee and The International New York Times. It was a very good start for my day trip to Lens to visit the splendid Louvre museum, just 45 minutes away.
The front desk was flexible enough to let me stay until 2 p.m. in spite of high occupancy, and offered to keep my luggage in storage if I wished to explore the town until my departure time later in the afternoon. There were other amenities that I didn’t have time to enjoy, such as the bar and restaurant, room service, fitness room, business corner with a 21” iMac and printer, newspapers, magazines and a cheerful outdoor seating area.
A perfect overnight stay if you’re looking for contemporary convenience with a human touch.
49 rue de Tournai, Lille
Tel (+33) 3 28 38 67 00
Standard rate €126 – special offers available for city breaks and early bookings