One of the more unusual hotels in the Loire Valley and set right within the medieval splendor of Fontevraud, this series of outbuildings was once the abbey's lepers' hospice, but you'd never know it. In a muscularly Romanesque side wing the erstwhile monks' cells have been transformed into small but alluring guest rooms, chic and bright in modern checks and fine wood accents. The more expensive rooms—No. 106 is the largest—have baths rather than showers. The entrance
gives onto the vast salle capitulaire (conference room), and the cloisters now house a fine restaurant, Le Saint Lazare (reservations essential, closed mid-November–April), where Anthony Vaillant's delicacies, such as duck foie-gras fillet with raspberry sauce or seared sea bass tartare with sesame seeds, make most diners very happy indeed. Staying here lets you explore the abbey grounds when its gates are closed to the public—an exceptional experience.