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
- 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
I stayed here two nights with my wife as part of a large wedding at the Abbey.
We appreciated the modern and sleek designs set into a medieval abbey, but unfortunately the hotel misses on many key and very basic points.
Arrival itself is challenging. You have to announce yourself at the gate for it to open, then you drive in and park and have to walk about 5 minutes on poorly paved walkway. It seems like a simple pavement or porter service would be useful here.
Second, the room itself was tiny - we were in the 500s - and opens right out into the grounds, so everyone can see right into your room or you have to keep the curtains shut.
Next, the TV didn't work - they gave us this silly iPad thing to control it, and it couldn't get it to work. Normally this is fine, but the wifi barely worked either - we only had access on one device, and it was a ridiculously long code to enter in each time we wanted to switch each others' phones to be the one with wifi (very little reception of any other kind).
Finally, the room had very little ventilation, and wasn't air conditioned! They provided this small fan, which didn't really help.
Moreover, the rest of the operation wasn't that great either. The bar area in the evenings wasn't open, which was a shame as the design was great.
It's a shame, as the abbey itself is historic, beautiful, and secluded, but the hotel disappoints.
Quiet setting, comfortable bed, evening free access to all the grounds and Buildings including the main chapel which were quite special
For an upmarket hotel it lacked attentive and valued guest service, English skills poor at desk, iPad for TV was a triumph of poorly implemented technology over function ( it didn’t work), breakfast over priced, rather disorganised and under-staffed, bedroom a bit tired (stained bathroom floor, damaged plaster on walls. Solely self service coffee and tea available (no milk), grounds disappointingly maintained. I had to point out that bill didn’t include the breakfast we had eaten (breakfast staff hadn’t taken room number) but no particular apologies or thanks. I think it all adds up to a lack of management focus which is a shame given the location.
I have reviewed restaurant separately.
Very nice hotel in historic and spectacular grounds. Almost no closet space or storage so bags and clothes scattered everywhere. Room service was sporadic or non-existent some days. We did appreciate their green program and earth friendly impact projects.
I would love to come back here again someday but poor closet space is a real obstacle.
This is extremely interesting “high concept” accommodation. The design of the facilities and furnishings evokes the monastic heritage while maintaining high modern comfort. Breakfast was served in the dining room, formerly the cloister. Dinner is a gourmet experience which, like the furnishings, evokes monastic asceticism with imaginative and surprising adaptations of the traditions. Staying at the hotel gives 24-hour access to the extensive monastic site and gardens. Wandering the mostly deserted grounds and buildings in early morning or twilight is a marvellous experience. The location is convenient for making daytrips in the area with parking within the abbey walls.
Its a nice place and do recommend staying here. This is a truly unique hotel with small but comfortable and tastefully decorated rooms. Not sure about the iPad as a TV remote, not very practical in my opinion. The grounds are fabulous. A real privilege that hotel guests can explore the Abbey freely after hours. Would advise against breakfast here - it is too over-priced considering you're only getting a limited continental breakfast. Breakfast in 5* Hotels in London are cheaper than this. Would recommend going to the great little boulangerie in the village instead! Also, make sure you book in advance if you want to eat at the restaurant during your stay. We were not informed of this and as it's so popular there was no availability for the 3 days we were there.
Also, make sure you check your car before leaving as we ended up with damage and got promised someone will contact us. Almost 2 weeks later, still not heard anything. There are no signs in the carpark so the hotel would legally be liable for any damage. I would expect an email to discuss the matter further as promised.
I would stay here again I just hope matters can be rectified.