Design Field Notes

Design Field Notes

Design Field Notes

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Places & Faces

Fontevraud Hotel, Loire Valley, France

One of France’s newest additions on the hotel scene is the Fontevraud Hotel in the Loire Valley’s Fontevraud Abbey. The building is a former local tourist landmark, playing multiple roles since the 12th Century – from prison to monastery. The site is the burial place of Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

I had to share this new find as the interiors are seriously impressive. The hotel wows with minimalist design that gracefully celebrates past and present with simplicity and grandeur. Architect Sanit Manku and designer Patrick Jouin of Jouin Manku have reimagined the space perfectly. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, there were limitations, however the final result is breathtaking.

The designers capture the essence of history and you can draw a sense of prison austerity and the paired back lifestyle within a monastery from the moment you step in the door. The lobby features an oak-paneled desk amid original stone artwork, reminding me a little of the Manhattan Light Oak collection from Max Sparrow. The intentional simplicity sets a precedent for throughout the rest of the hotel.

The coldness of the chapel is balanced with light timbers and the glow of contemporary lighting. I can imagine sipping an Armagnac in the evening, catching up on emails (because it never stops!) in the tranquil space.

The 54 rooms vary, each defined by the existing architecture. Think tall ceilings in the duplexes, sloping attic rooms and others with direct access to the gardens through arched doors. Every piece of furniture used was custom designed and built.

Anthony Spon-Smith

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