The story behind the Abbaye de Fontevraud Hotel in Anjou is long, reach and full of unexpected turns. It used to be a monastery hence the mystical air. It went from being a shelter for monks to housing nuns, to being transformed into a prison until, in the 1980s, it got transformed into a hotel and restaurant and it preserved that function until this day.
The four star hotel has remarkable architecture. Seen from a distance, it doesn’t strike one as the kind of typical hotel and for good reason. The solid walls full of history tell amazing stories and the vaulted ceilings that welcome guests into the reception area have that imposing look dictated by the architecture typical to the Middle Ages.
But this austerity is not the main defining characteristic of the hotel. When architects Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Jouin Manku redesigned the interior of the building, they were careful to respect and to preserve as much of the original as possible while also employing a contemporary vision.
They kept the past alive by preserving the exposed brick walls, the amazing staircase and by adapting the color palette to the history of the building over the years.
Light grey seating complements the brick walls and columns and brown accents are reminiscent of the monk’s robes.
Deep petrol blue fabric palisades shelter the reception area and give it a more welcoming look by softening the effect of the imposing ceilings.
The contemporary approach is very obvious but not in a contrasting manner. For example, oversized wood and copper lighting fixtures featuring geometric designs bring a touch of modern into the mix without contradicting the architecture of the hotel.
The hotel’s overall design avoids unnecessary stylistic effects but doesn’t reject aesthetic beauty. The dining space, for example, is really simple, featuring a large, rectangular table at the center and additional seating on the sides. Pillar candles of varying heights are placed at the center of the table and brown and blue fabric wall décor gives the space a warm feel.
The hotel has 52 guest rooms split between the main building and the Liban outhouse. They vary in size and shape but they share in common the tranquil atmosphere and a quiet and simple but also chic décor.
The rooms look a bit austere but they’re not missing the modern elegance other hotels focus on. Mobile lamps hanging on rails throughout the rooms are reminders of the old days while sleek furniture bring the guests back to the present.