This is a story of a 300+ or - old building.
This is a story of three different "recent" owners.
This is the story of success on many levels.
L'Hostalet has been a hotel for the many decades that I've been coming to Argelès. The original owners went to the Fawlty Towers school of customer service. I would stash guests there only as a last resort.
Then it was bought by a Danish artist who ran it along with an artist atelier. She was a one-woman show, and when we heard a whish it was Cristina running by to her next chore. She did not have the funds to restore it nor the wherewithal to do it all herself, so she sold it.
The next owners left it closed for a few years. At one point a young couple wanted to buy it, had the financing or so they thought. The financial crisis caused the bank to rescind the offer.
It remained empty...
Matieu, a child of the Pyrenees, bought it and opened it with Jonathan, a Brit who'd lived and taught university in America at one point.
Little by little there was a new facade, the dingy, 1930s French-spy-film style rooms were replaced by light, airy modern rooms that have a French feel but none of the boring room lack of ambience that chains have.
The stairs were redone until the wood grain was a work of art.
Than the kitchen was replaced.
Breakfast inside in the winter and on the Place de la Republique in the summer have the traditional breads, cheese and jams, but there are home-made mini-mini muffins with tea or coffee.
Last year the two started serving coffee, tea etc. in the morning to those that wander by. It has become a meeting place. And during the summer evenings wine, sangria, local beers, juices are added to the offering. On a lucky night there might some of Matieu's homemade tapenade.Of course, there are tables and drinks available on the nights that the square becomes the scene for different types of concerts and dances,
The hotel is now beautiful. Hard work brought about the transformation, but that's not the whole of the success story. It is the two men that make people feel welcome. It is their smiles. It is that a bit of their heart and souls are invested in each board and brick.
If you plan to come to Argelès, check out www.hostalet.fr and consider staying. If they are complete or you have other accommodations, drop by in the morning or evening whether or not there is a dance or a concert.
The genuine, warm feeling along with whatever you are served by this multi-lingual duo, is an experience with no price tag.
That is the real success story.