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Hotel L'aiguille Verte/Chamonix, France

Out of the seven B&B and hotel reviews that I am doing for my recent stay in four European countries, Hotel L’aiguille Verte is-thankfully-the only negative one I have to offer.

The Chalet itself was lovely. The rooms were “clean and cheerful” (as noted in the France travel book). We had a wonderful view of glaciers cascading down the mountain, of Mount Blac itself, and also had the peaceful sound of the river close by.

On to the negative: When I was confirming our reservations, the owner made it clear that we had to arrive by 20h for check-in. My husband and I were driving eight hours from Reutte, Austria that day and felt that it was important that we arrive on time, so we didn’t let any grass grow under our feet and we arrived and checked in at 18h.

The owner gave us the key and told us we needed to let her know if we wanted breakfast before 20h that evening. Our room was on the top floor and we took our bags up two steep flights of creaky stairs to check it out. The third floor, window-less hallway was 80+ humid degrees and unlit (meaning it was dark as pitch with only a dim green fire exit sign to speak of). We had to use the flashlight in my purse to see the keyhole. Rick Steves warns in his travel books about Americans not knowing how to use old-fashioned keys, but my Nana’s farmhouse still has them, we had used them at our two previous B&B’s, and felt very comfortable with them. The one we were given for our room would not work. We tried several times and could not get it open. So I went down to get assistance from the owner…she was gone! Not five minutes after we’d arrived she’s split, not even making sure we were in our room or that it was to our satisfaction.

The sign on the reception window gave a phone number to call…there is no cell phone signal at the hotel! Ten minutes later, my husband was covered in sweat, still jiggling the key and finally got in. We tried to call the owner from the landline in our room; the phone was dead. So, the moral of that story is that the policy of the current owner is to call if there is a problem b/c there is no one on site who can help you; oh, but there’s no cell signal, no WIFI, and the phones in the hotel rooms don’t work.

We would go through the same 10-15 minute process to lock and un-lock our room the rest of the night (we’d been on the road all day and had to eat!)

Since the owner never showed again that evening (we arrived back from dinner before 20h to speak with her; no-show), I wrote her a letter and slid it under reception. We were given a different key the next day that worked on the first try. Apparently, the previous tenant had taken the room key with them and she had replaced it without making sure the replacement key worked.
The other big negatives for us were the fact that she was unhelpful when we asked questions about activities in the town or other facilities (ex: I asked for a laundromat, she responded that it was “somewhere near the lift”; helpful.), and breakfast. That’s still a hot button for me. During our email reservations, we were priced 66E for the room (for two of us, obviously) and 7.50E for breakfast. One would assume that because were quoted the price for 2x for the room, the price for breakfast that she stated would also be for 2x. We were fed bread and coffee (that’s it!!) and charged 15E. Thankfully, we only ate it once during our three night stay and did not ask for it again because it was so sparse and unhealthy. I wanted so badly to produce my printed itinerary and argue that with her at check-out, but truth be told we just wanted out of there.

This was the only Rick Steves recommended establishment that I feel should be taken out of the list of recommended places, at least until it’s under new management. It soured our time in France and, even now as I look back on all the wonderment of the Alps that we were blessed to see and the lovely people that we met in town, this place leaves a sick feeling in my gut.

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