A hotel with a rich history
It is at 14 that Angel Belossi leaves Italy with his family to find a more prosperous life in France. In Paris, he is first a busboy at “Café Riche”, he then becomes waiter, maitre d’, then manager of the cafe.
With a reputation for tenacious work, Angel moves to Toulouse to become director of the renowned “Le Lafayette” restaurant.
The family grows and on November 13th, 1914, Germaine Belossi gives birth to Pierre Belossi.
It is only at the end of the First World War, that business started to pick up again in Toulouse. In the 1920’s, Angel decides to buy his own business. Restaurant “Michel” at 4, boulevard de Strasbourd, becomes the « Restaurant Belossi ».
In 1930, Angel already has a new ambition. In the same neighborhood, a few blocks away from the restaurant, at 5, rue d’Austerlitz, the “Hotel des Americains” is for sale. Angel becomes the owner of an 18 room hotel.
At that time, the entrance is at the end of a poorly lit hallway; a spiral staircase leads to the front desk on the first floor.
The small front desk is in the corner of the first floor landing (today, encoring metal brackets can still be seen in the stone floor). Angel changes the name of the hotel, “Hotel de Fance” is born.
It is 81 years and three generations later that this change of name will become a wonderful irony.
The following summer, in August of 1931, Angel undertake the expansion of the hotel by adding a fifth floor and what is now the famous Dome, that to this day still overlooks the roofs of Toulouse.
Angel only gets to witness the success of the hotel for a few short years. In 1934, at the young age of 51, Angel Belossi the busboy who became the visionary entrepreneur dies of the Typhoid Fever.
At 20, Pierre is now responsible for everything. Quickly the rumors of a Second World War become reality. The Germans requisition both the restaurant and the hotel. But Before they have time to gulp all the wine, Pierre Belossi hides the best bottles of wine in a cellar under the hotel. At night, the cellar is walled off.
In 1944, Claude Belossi is born. An only child, she is adored by her grand-mother who nicknames her Chouchou.
The war over, Pierre wants to expand the hotel; luckily the house on the back of the hotel facing the rue Victor Hugo is for sale. It quickly gets remodeled into hotel rooms with the addition of two floors.
Years go by and Pierre who loves golfing, fishing and traveling, wants to enjoy his retirement years. In 1981, he calls upon his daughter Claude to take over the business.
At 37 years old, with a relentless energy she undertakes the largest remodeling the hotel has ever had. From the first to the fifth floor, the inside of the hotel is entirely gutted. When the architect puts the blue prints together, he notices in the underground of the hotel, a room that is “missing”. The cellar where the bottles of wine had been hidden away 40 years earlier is re-discovered. The remodeling of the hotel is so significant that some clients, stunned by the vision of the hotel floors entirely gutted from one end to the other, ask at the front desk “Are you doing dormitories?”. All the rooms are re-distributed, the common toilets and showers at the end of the hallways are replaced by private bathrooms in each bedroom. The comfort of the air-conditioning is added and a second breakfast area is added on the Victor Hugo side of the hotel. The hotel now has 62 rooms.
2011, Claude now 67 is leading the latest hotel remodeling. The rooms are entirely redesigned to give them a cozy comfort. Already, clients declare: “When I open the door of my room, it feels like being home.”
P.S. : Do you recall the irony of the old hotel name, the « Hôtel des Américains” that became « Hôtel de France » ? It is at the fourth generation, that the great grand-daughter of Angel Belossi, a French girl, that became American is the one pursuing the dream he had set in motion 81 years ealier.