La Pyramide Patrick Henriroux
La Pyramide is a 4-star Relais & Chateaux hotel in Vienne, which is just 25 km south of Lyon. I picked it more for logistic reasons, it was in the right place as my wife and I were driving back north. I expected it to provide decent accommodation, secure parking, a delicious dinner upon arriving, and a good breakfast before leaving the next day.
All the sign were there, rated 'fabuleux' with a 9.2 on Booking, a solid 4.5 on Trip Advisor, 2-star Michelin restaurant, and even 2 Tesla charging points. On Trip Advisor it was classed the best hotel in the town, but only the 2nd best restaurant, behind a pizza restaurant!
Patrick Henriroux is the owner-chef of the restaurant which has 2 Michelin since 1992, and the hotel has been a member of the Relais & Chateaux since 1999.
The hotel website has a whole gallery with photographs of the hotel and the restaurants. In fact there are two restaurants, the 2 gastronomic restaurant and the so-called 'Espace Ph3' which is a bistro style offering.
We had no trouble finding the hotel with our car gps system, and we immediately saw why its called La Pyramide. It's exactly what you see at the end of the street, a Roman pyramid dating from the 2nd C AD. It is in itself quite famous, being the only Egyptian-style antique monument still standing in France.
In any case we first popped into the reception area which welcomes both visitors to the hotel and restaurants.
Staff were friendly and professional, and we were shown to the secure parking area just next to the hotel. They also help with our luggage, and showed us our room on the second floor (there were two lifts working). Below we can see the reception area, with the general style 'clean-modern' that is repeated throughout the entire hotel-restaurant.
One particularly noticeable feature in the room was the inclusion of what might be called technology 'gadgets'.
An example is the electronic key and lock on what was a very solid and heavy bedroom door. This included the usual card opening, and card activated lighting, etc., but also a push button lock on the inside of the door handle. In addition you could select three options including a 'don't disturb', with the options visible in the corridor, and where the 'don't disturb' disactivated the door bell.
The above photograph shows the general presentation of our room. In addition in the access passage there was plenty of storage space. The bed was comfortable, but my wife found it a bit hard. The thing we really appreciated was the abundance of flat surfaces, etc. so we could spread out our things. We find this very useful, and in particular when just staying for an overnight.
However we did have three problems. The first was that in early July there was a heat wave, and yet the bed was covered with a thick eiderdown or quilt. We ended up sleeping beside it, around it, or on it, but never under it. Secondly we don't like these 'throws' that are a potential nest for dust and dirt. And finally in one of the cupboards there was a small safe, enough for a small laptop, etc. but I would have liked (and needed) a bigger safe.
Concerning the design, decor, etc., it was what you would expect from a modern style 4-star hotel. I would question the design choice of the 'old-fashioned' light switches and the odd looking reading lights, but we loved the draw of amenities.
The bathroom was quite large and included a bath and a separate shower. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the decoration and it shows in the bathroom. There were a couple of problems. The shower door leaked a little water onto the bathroom floor, and there was no shelf in the shower where you could put your 'stuff'. The handbasin is a great design feature, but you need to use a lot of water just to get it filled with 1-2 cm. All the usual bathroom sundries were present. But all these minor 'defects' were forgotten and forgiven when we looked at these fantastic taps - what a perfect design choice.
The hotel has two restaurants, however we were told that the 2 gastronomic restaurant was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we booking a table in the bistro style 'Espace Ph3'.
Driving up from the south in what was a heat wave, the hosts were kind enough to accept me in a shorts-and-shirt combo. We came down for dinner to find everyone installed on the garden terrace. The evening weather was perfect, and we settled in with a glass of Champagne. The menu was simple, with three starters, three main courses, and three cheese and three desert options. We both picked the lamb, followed by a desert. I can't say that the food was 2 , but we very much enjoyed a quiet and relaxing evening meal after a long day on a very hot road. And to top it all the garden was a perfect backdrop.
After fighting with the eiderdown we took breakfast on the same terrace, with the same view over the splendid garden.
In many ways breakfast was simple, but sometime the simplest things yield the greatest pleasures. Coffee for me and green-tea for my wife, and a wonderfully complete continental style breakfast set us up perfectly for the next leg of our trip back home. We could have extended our choice to eggs, etc., but the selection of breads, pastries, jams, etc. was all we needed.
Was our stopover good 'value for money'? A Relais & Chateaux is never going to be inexpensive, but overall we were happy. Would we return? For overnight stays much depends on the scheduling, etc., but 'yes' we certainly would stay there again. Would we book the 2 gastronomic restaurant? Probably not, for two reasons. Firstly I'm not a fan of the rather dark and slightly oppressive atmosphere of the main restaurant.
And secondly, after a long drive, and faced with a long drive the next day, a nice, relaxing, good quality bistro-style dinner is really our preferred choice.
I'm not a fan of attaching numerical scores to everything, but a 9.2 from the Booking website appears to me to be a slight exaggeration, yet a 4.5 from Trip Advisor might not do the whole hotel-bistro experience justice. I leave it there.