If you ever find yourself driving down through France and need a good place to stop en route, let me suggest the MGallery Dijon. Perfectly located about half way between Paris and the coast, or the ski resorts of the Alpes – it’s the perfect ‘pitstop’ and is full of charming surprises.

The hotel in itself, part of the hip MGallery chain of the Sofitel hotels is, like its siblings, all shiny, new and upscale. With five stars, it’s the type of boutique trendy hotel one would expect hipsters to stop at, but far more lies beyond the listed historical façades.

La Cloche is almost 600 years old, once the «l’Hostellerie de la Cloche» it was first open in 1424, but found its home on place Darcy as it stands today in 1884 in a glorious Haussmanian style building. Grandiose, it was even good enough for royalty with the likes of queen Margaret of Italy stopping by in  1906 and Catherine II of Russia too.

We travelled “en famille” – and of course, immediately felt like the juniors were superfluous to the swish atmosphere, but we were wrong. Soon enough it became clear that the staff were going to be friendly and all-inclusive and that the modern artwork in the hallway, specifically the oversized Richard Orlinsky red gorilla were really appreciated by kids too! The iconic white polar bear in the garden would have been a hit on a sunny day too.

In the room, I soon breath out a sigh of relief – as you do when arriving somewhere so plush you can tell the bed will be one to sink into, and the Nespresso machine is a welcome addition for the morning after…

Our youngest adopted the over sized red ‘tulip’ armchair immediately – probably because it  ‘swirls’ while the big screen TV and smart tweed grey sofa were adopted by the seven-year-old. Dad liked the coffee table laden with goodies –including macaroons, ‘cannelés,’ bottled water and a box of Anis de Flavigny sweets ( an acquired taste! ) – not to mention two white chocolate polar bears for the little ones.

I soon melt into the impressive king bed with a plethora of cosy pillows. I love the snazzy reading lamps covered in black leather and funky down lighters as well as the electric blue soft furnishings and wish I could disappear into the comfy furniture, tired after the long drive.

The kids relocate to the sexy yet practical bathroom for an early pre-dinner dip. A chic glass box with views onto the room, and vice versa (there is a curtain one can draw for privacy but I prefer to keep an eye on them) it has a great big, deep rectangular bath with fab Galimard smellies and soft fluffy towels.

Before dinner we kill a little time in the slinky dimly lit bar, where we sample the rosé (me) and the nibbles (the kids) on designer Roset furniture. It’s odd being in a ‘hip’ bar with children. A first for us! It goes fairly smoothly apart from the bit where the toddler bites through a glass of water, but that’s another story.

Dinner goes very well. Although they have no ‘kid’s menu’ and don’t really take in the ‘smaller portion’ instructions, the kids love their grilled trout filet and pasta dish. I must say I’m quite jealous too – until I get my fantastic foie gras des Landes terrine. As mains we’ve chosen a ‘Black Burger Charolais with croustillant de Cîteauxburger (local cheese) for him, and a light scallop dish: Noix de St Jacques with Chanterelle mushrooms and vegetable minestrone for me. I’m flawed by the quality of the food and the wine by the glass that comes with it. And, I’m delighted to report that it needn’t break the bank thanks to their two course menu for 38€!

Back in the room, it’s time for a bedtime cuppa before lights out and though there are no mugs, I call for one to see what kind of service I’ll get. One appears in instants and with a smile, which is very welcome, like the Rooibos citrus tea.

I needn’t have worried about the service. After numerous years deploring the French understanding of service I finally found a place where going the extra mile is the done thing.

Little did I know that on leaving, my daughter would leave behind her most precious companion: Joss the rabbit. A traumatic event, of course – but the story ends well – better than well, in fact. After his stay at La Cloche, he flew home promptly, in a box accompanied by a picture book illustrating what he had been up to on his holiday. It seems the staff had the time and inclination and creative drive to make a very unusual souvenir!

Who knew that overnight stop would mean a new favourite book for bedtime for a delighted little girl? It goes without saying that I heartily recommend the MGallery La Cloche for a family visit if you ever find yourself in Dijon!

14 place Darcy 21000 Dijon. Tél. : 03 80 30 12 32

Rooms from 175 euros. Lunch menu 28,50 euros. Menus des Jardins  37,50 euros or 49,50 euros with wine.

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