Do you know what makes for a cool hotel? A 19th-century Beaux-Arts courthouse that people spent 10 years of their lives renovating and transforming. It can only be described as absolutely stunning and with rooms starting at £101 a night, here’s why it’s a hidden gem.
Let’s first address the elephant in the room, Nantes probably isn’t on your list when you think of somewhere to visit in France. The list probably goes Paris, Nice, Bordeaux, Marseille, and maybe Lyon in that order. Not visiting the capital of the Loire Valley is a huge oversight though. If beautiful architecture isn’t for you, there’s foodie heaven. If not the 60km art trail, then the plethora of shops. Nantes really does seem to have it all without having the problems of other French cities.
Nantes airport (NTE) is only a 20-minute Uber away from The Radisson Blu, you could go via public transport as it’s only an extra 20 minutes (1 train from the airport then a bus to the hotel) but that costs almost as much as an uber. The airport itself is only a regional one thus mainly served by low-cost carriers but there are a few main carrier flights from the likes of Air France, KLM, Swiss and Lufthansa.
When you look on Google Maps, The Radisson doesn’t look to be in the best location, the optics are wrong on this one. You’re just far enough from where to be that there’s not much traffic, making it a fairly quiet area, yet close enough to make for a pretty spectacular stroll at any hour of the day.
I booked a standard room through hotels.com. Due to being gold I was entitled to a free 1 category upgrade and a free drinks voucher each. The front desk wasn’t really too keen on honouring the free upgrade for the stay but as I was travelling with a family member it would have been very poor form. You see the standard rooms do not come with a twin option, only the next category up does, the superior room. After a wee bit of back and forth with the front desk staff, the room was upgraded to a superior twin room.
Having briefly looked at the standard room, the superior room is barely an upgrade. You get a little bit more floor space, but with the exception of the twin beds, you would struggle to tell the difference. It’s what you’d expect from a Radisson, a decent room size.
I think what Radisson has done is gone down the middle when it comes to mattresses. Personally, I found the double too soft but I love a firm mattress. Most would say it was just right with a few on the opposite end of the spectrum saying it was too firm. I still had a good night’s sleep in the double despite being accustomed to a superking due in part to the lovely cotton sheets, light/airy yet snug duvet and firm pillow. Do note that you have a choice of either a firm or soft pillow with a spare of each in one of your room cupboards.
Onto the bathroom and it’s pretty spacious given that the toilet is in a separate room, I think that’s the norm for all rooms in this category or higher. What’s exclusive for the premium room is the fact there’s no bath, it’s shower only. It is a massive shower though and yes, the head is only small but it provides plenty of power. So much so in fact, you can stand at the other end of the shower and still get washed sufficiently.
Rather than just going for a bog standard mirror, Radisson decided to do the right thing, it’s heated. So when you get out of the shower all steamy, you don’t have to faf on getting another towel to clear it, it’s crystal clear. Even better are the built-in curved lights which give a warm beautifully diffused even light.
There is a full range of toiletries; shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, soap and a shower cap. It’s all own brand stuff so probably a million miles away from the likes of Aesop, but if your luggage doesn’t turn up or you’re in a jam, I’m sure it’ll do.
The positioning of the TV was somewhat quirky due to the structural layout of the building. I mean it wouldn’t take much for a maintenance guy to change things so that the curtain track starts slightly wider so the curtains can hang plumb with no disruption from the TV or bracket. Yes, it irked me lying there at night with the curtains hanging like that.
Anyway, digressions aside, the TV. Decent enough size-wise, perhaps 55 inches, perfect really for the room and the distance from the beds. You can’t mirror your phone or stream anything though so not the best which is an issue unless you want to relive year 7 French lessons as most of the channels are in French.
If you’re wanting to do some work there’s a decent-width desk. I was going to say about doing makeup there due to the mirror but the lighting situation is poor with just one downward-facing book lamp. There are a couple of power sockets and an ethernet port but it makes no sense whatsoever as an office desk for productivity. That is all down to the “designer” stool/bench/seat. No backrest, no comfort, no ergonomics, just a massive inconvenience.
If you’re wanting to do work in any sort of comfort it’s either going to be at the small coffee table or in bed. Coincidentally, those are the only places in the room that have accessible power sockets.
The Lobby & Bar
This isn’t your standard hotel lobby, I mean it takes an immense space to make the grand piano that first greats you as you ascend the stairs look like it was designed for a doll’s house. The hotel comes with large vaulted ceilings but then to have a double-height room. Put it this way, if you find yourself sitting waiting for someone during a quiet time, you’ll certainly hear the footsteps of high heels or some shoes. And as it’s an atrium, all of that is capped off with a vast glass roof which makes the perfect lobby.
Despite being peak summer and there being 142 rooms, the lobby was very quiet. Don’t get me wrong there were people sitting comfortably in either the sofas or the funky chairs dotted around and there were still people checking in and out all the time but there was barely any noise whatsoever. You’d expect the murmuring conversations to resinate and amplify in the space but that wasn’t the case at all. So much so that when a guest entered the hotel in high heels the sound was, well everyone knew their presence.
What I did find strange was the lack of media of any sort. No tv’s, no magazines, no books. There was a water stand with fresh fruits to add a little flavour. I guess the fully stocked bar is supposed to be the catalyst where you order a drink and converse with the company you are in. A very civilised approach of a bygone era which works a treat even if most will find it a culture shock.
If you’ve read a few of my hotel reviews you’re probably now thinking “What about the gym?, the spa?, the pool?” Well unfortunately the Radisson Blu, Nantes doesn’t have any of them things. My thoughts were it’s a perfect hotel should you be a solo traveller or a couple. Yes, the lack of a pool, spa and gym is a disappointment but with the exception of the gym (I use one every time I stay at a hotel that has one) honestly, I didn’t even notice. All in all, a classy hotel in a nice part of the world surrounded by culture and history. Would certainly stay there again.