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
This is an eco hotel. The design is splendid; kudos for the minimalist font, furniture, look, feel. Comfy bed, shower is perfect. Clean and nice towels. Staff is friendly and professional. Drive into the gate at the north of the abbey- you ring for entrance. Staff pick you up, take you and your luggage to your room. Quiet, lovely.
We stayed her in a twin room, refined and peaceful with a huge window to open and see the stars,Beautifully lit grounds and Abbey at night, and well stocked shop. Welcoming front of house staff and fabulous restaurant with Michelin star chef. The waitress described each dish in English for us. Great experience, with very few people in the grounds .
Only used the restaurant. They serve a good range of dishes and a wonderful location to eat in the square opposite the entrance to the Abbaye. Friendly service good wine selection and a wonderful view
A very nice gentleman greeted my wife and myself warmly and, although I had booked a terrace room by telephone, he suggested he show us three different rooms inorder to choose. It was just as well, because what I thought was a terraced room on their website, was in fact the breakfast area in a 'cloister'!
Firstly, we were shown to a small 'cell' on the ground floor, with a very small window above head height. No thanks; we were here for 5 nights. A terrace room was next. It had a double patio door leading onto the garden but, as the gentleman pointed out, no opening window or air con. We would have to leave the door ajar to get some air in. Non. The gentleman confirmed they intend to install air con in the near future.
We decided on the third room. Situated on the 2nd floor, it had a small bedroom and a large-ish shower room - more on that follows.
There is no doubt there is quality, modern design and fittings here throughout the hotel. The iBar is particularly impressive. However, design outdid practicality in our room and so caused a number of irritations.
There was no overhead light as you enter the small 'hall' into the room. Within this dim area is a wardrobe (named as such in its broadest sense), sunk into the wall. As you open its door a light comes on. Maybe they thought this was sufficient to light the hall!
Within the wardrobe are two shelves at the top and a hanging rail underneath them. It is not deep enough to take a normal coat hanger at 90 degrees. It contained a typical hotel safe, but it was fixed to the floor, on its back with the door on top. Opening that door required any hanging clothes to be moved. There was no space for luggage, so cases had to go up against a wall or under a desk.
The bed was large and comfortable with a nice backrest. As others point out, there are no drinks facilities in the room. There is a machine in a lounge on the ground floor, providing teas and coffees and paper cups. You can take them back to your room.
Their argument for this, and the lack of other fripperies, is that they are an 'eco' hotel.
The shower room is a reasonable size, but the shower itself,( which could take about six in it!) is far too big given the size of the room. The shower door opens into the room which is a bit awkward and it leaves water stains on the floor. A sliding door would have been better. The long,narrow sink, at 90 degrees to the shower, also takes up too much space. If inclined, two could wash side-by-side though. The door between this area and the bedroom opens out, and brushes the duvet on the bed in doing so.
Or, as happened to me once when I sat on the side of the bed, hit my leg as my wife exited. We developed a signalling system to exit after that! Personally, I would have preferred a smaller shower room, leaving more space in the bedroom.
You can barely walk around the bedroom area without walking sideways past each other. In one of these manoeuvres I banged my head on a low metal-framed wall light.
In my opinion that is not safe. Again, no air con, but at least we could open a window overlooking the rear garden.
The Michelin starred restaurant looks stunning, as does the breakfast area around the interior courtyard. We had booked dinner in advance, but it was a multi-course menu and my wife, who is fussy, could not eat any of it, so we ate in a restaurant in the village. There is a small café in the grounds which serves snack and desserts in the daytime. The last day we were there they were opening a new brasserie, so maybe there will be a better selection of food available there.
Breakfast had a very good self-service selection, although I didn't take to the butter. It smelled and tasted cheesy. According to a server, that is how it is.
We travelled here by car and were pleased with the secure parking area. You buzz reception to get in, but the gates open automatically to get out. As has been noted, you cannot drive up to the hotel itself. If you want assistance with luggage, or do not wish to walk about 300 yards, you can ask for someone to transport you, either way, in a golf buggy.
Access to the village can be achieved by walking within the grounds uphill to a gate. which has a touch-pad access code. Alternatively, you can walk through the tourist shop. If you return that way, show your key card to staff and they will release a turnstile
and let you back in - or use the coded gate again.
Residents are allowed access to all of the abbey buildings - and impressive they are too - and the grounds at no cost. Non-residents have to pay.
Despite the issues with the room, we enjoyed our stay in such a peaceful, stunning location, with superb weather too add to the experience.
Most of the reception staff spoke good English and, in the main, were cheerful and very helpful.
Serene stay back in history. Beautiful grounds and a decent hotel. Great restaurant. Beautiful grounds are yours to explore leisurely. The rooms are monastic with only soap as your toiletries. Must make reservation at their famous restaurant and must visit the abby at night. Front desk personnel was not the best, but the new front dest trainees were wonderful.