What We Love
- Sleeping inside a true landmark: The Royal Abbey dates from 1101 and features Romanesque architecture, long galleries off its cloisters and Byzantine kitchens, plus reclining effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son, Richard the Lionheart
- The guestrooms are spread across three sections of the abbey, but all 54 are individually designed to accommodate the building’s original features and have a contemporary style in modern grays, whites and mustard yellows
- The IBar is a digital drinking den with tablets and computers built into the custom wood furnishings
- Chef Thibaut Ruggeri is at helm of Le Restaurant, a gourmet destination that offers three set menus per day (dinner from Tuesday to Saturday and lunch on Sunday from 12:30 to 2 p.m.) in a special setting between the cloisters overlooking the gardens
What To Know
- The Royal Abbey is a year-round tourist attraction, open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. most days, so the grounds are always busy with visitors
- Reservations for Le Restaurant are essential
- Prime location for exploring the Loire Valley’s chateaux and rivers by bike
- The abbey hosts live music concerts, family events, exhibitions and conferences throughout the year
- Parking is a five-minute walk away, but there's a shuttle service to the front door
- No TVs or telephones in the guestrooms
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
In the heart of the Loire Valley, Fontevraud L’Hotel is in an exceptional setting within its namesake 12th-century abbey. Architects Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku are behind the wholly contemporary redesign, which echoes and complements the abbey’s original character, from stained glass–inspired touches to pale oak paneling that matches the chalky white tufa stonework. The 54 guestrooms are in three portions of the abbey and retain the architectural details of the building. Some guestrooms have soaring ceilings and arched windows, while others are more compact, with sloping ceilings and small windows that offer just a glimpse of the 32-acre grounds. The rooms are light on tech, with no telephones or TVs, but all have floating writing desks and en suite bathrooms with stand-alone showers. Dining at Fontevraud is a serious affair, with Bocuse d’Or–winning chef Thibaut Ruggeri preparing three set dinners each night (Tuesday to Saturday), all made with seasonal local fare and served with Loire Valley wines. For a special lunch option, make a reservation for the restaurant’s Sunday daytime service from 12:30 to 2 p.m. only, and don’t miss breakfast, which is served every morning in a quiet corner of the dining room overlooking the courtyard. For evening tipples, the IBar is part drinking den, part media center, with computers built into the custom wood furnishings, and black fabric screens creating a cozy feel beneath the lofty chapel ceilings.
In the Area
Fontevraud L’Hotel is in the heart of France’s magical Loire Valley, so a stay here puts you within pedal distance of the region’s historic chateaux and idyllic river routes. But first explore the abbey’s myriad attractions. Most famous are the reclining effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son, Richard the Lionheart, as well as the medieval architecture of the 1101 abbey. Explore some of the site’s 32 manicured acres on foot, or time your visit to coincide with one of the many live arts festivals, including open-air rock and baroque concerts. Horse lovers should plan a stop at the Ecole Nationale d’Equitation, in Samur, one of France’s best-known riding academies, dating from 1828. While in Samur, take a tour of the town’s fairy-tale château and see the 200 military vehicles at the Musée des Blindés. Farther east, the idyllic village of Turquant is famous for its many cave dwellings, most of which have been converted to cool cafés, shops and galleries.
How to Get There
Recommended by a friend, we had two nights at this fantastic place. You can visit the Abbey without staying at the hotel but being able to wonder around the former abbey and prison at night was a memorable experience. The rooms are minimalist and comfortable. Great bathrooms and amazing breakfast in the former Saint-Lazare church. The restaurant (a truly gastronomic experience) is also in the Saint-Lazare church with some tables facing the cloister. A memorable two days and astounded at the amount of time and effort has gone into transforming the Abbey back into its original glory. Recommend at least one night at this interesting and fabulous place.
We loved our two nights at L’Hotel last week, and we’ll definitely return next time we’re in the region. For this kind of quality and exclusivity, it’s great value.
The Loire valley in July is hardly a quiet place, yet the relative isolation of this hotel in the far corner of the abbey site made us feel miles from anywhere. The minimalist style echoed the building’s history as both monastery and prison, and at breakfast in the cloistered restaurant the other guests actually whispered to each other. Somehow none of this felt austere or weird: it all helped to make our stay a gloriously restful retreat.
Do find time to wander around the kitchen garden and through the other buildings. We did so completely alone one evenin, and stumbled on a prison museum and a breathtaking light and sound installation up in the former nuns’ huge, darkened dormitory.
One tip: if you don’t dine at Le Restaurant and want a simpler meal - or even just a drink and a snack - go out to one of the several lovely places in Fontevraud village.
L’Hotel’s room service is strictly limited to a 30 euro set meal, and its beautiful (but last week, utterly deserted and barely staffed) iBar serves no food, not even olives or nuts. There are a couple of places in the abbey precinct for light meals, but the only one that’s open in the evenings - the wine bar - is in a vast and not terribly inviting room at the main abbey.
For a 4* hotel charging what it does they really should have some sort of contingency to control the temperature in the rooms. An oscillating fan just isnt good enough when the temperature at 10pm is still 35°C. They say they didnt expect such temperatures- they were saying the same thing this time last year.