Nantes is a city of new experiences, innovative and eccentricity. You only have to wander onto Ȋle de Nantes, see the wacky inventions on the banks of the Loire Valley, to understand that this is a city of unconventional, quirky developments. The brashness of modernism displayed is at complete odds with the narrow cobbled streets and historical heritage found around the old city; however, it works. This forward-thinking city has allowed influences of the past to revitalise the imagination of those living there today, which in turn, has led to the creation of a crazy and energetic new city.
It should come as no surprise then that people visiting Nantes often want somewhere unusual to stay, with the most outlandish being the human Hamster Cage that opened back in 2009.
La Villa Hamster was the brain child of interior designer Frederic Tabary and contained a full-sized giant wheel, where should you wish, you could take a run, fur costumes to transform you into a human rodent and a cage to sleep in. Sounds strange? It was probably the most bizarre thing ever created anywhere and perhaps a bit too freakish for even the most open-minded tourist.
Unfortunately, if you are looking to try this off-the-wall apartment out for yourself it no longer exists but that doesn’t mean that you need to return to a plain hotel room or a small bed and breakfast somewhere because there are still plenty of apartments out their displaying their individuality.
Where Does Inspiration For The Design Come From in Nantes?
When wandering around the city, one person’s name seems to appear time and time again – Jules Verne, the world-renowned father of Sci-Fi.
With imagination oozing from the 54 novels, it seems only fitting that a company has created an entire portfolio of apartments based on the famous author’s works.
Surprenantes offers various theme-based apartments across the city, each one unique and memorable in an individual way.
From the tiny to the plush, they have something that will appeal to everyone.
At only 17m², this is the smallest apartment but don’t let that put you off. Located close to the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, at the end of a charming, quiet street you will find an iron gateway protecting a small courtyard of 18th century buildings.
Once inside, the snug surroundings can only be described as slightly bizarre, perhaps this is because the apartment has been designed with Jules Verne’s ‘Five Weeks in a Balloon’ in mind. Never before, have we had the opportunity to sleep in a Victorian gondola, floating high above the bathroom designed to replicate the basket of a hot air balloon. Navigating the sooty-coloured metal ladder up onto the hovering bedstead requires a certain level of skill and a head for heights. The small raised area is just large enough for a double bed with lights carefully positioned above so that there is no need for anything further in such a modest space.
What is amazing is the amount of thought that has gone into the space below. Not only is there comfortable seating large enough for two, it also doubles up as a work area and a dining room should you wish to use the cooking facilities available.
Wake up to the smell of freshly ground coffee and cook yourself a hearty breakfast on the hob provided before jumping into a very futurist shower.
Not only is the chunky rain shower painted heavily in metallic silver, the pipe work around the sink is an intrinsic display of twists and turns, with numerous taps that need to be opened in order for the water to trickle through.
By far, this is one of the most unusual places to stay in and whilst there are facilities to make it a comfortable stay, it is one for short stays only. The space lacks any real area for storage, there is no space for large suitcases and with no wardrobes for clothes you may end up feeling like you are in a constant state of unrest; unable to settle, to unpack or feel at home. This is not a place to relax but more it is a unique place to stay for a night or two whilst exploring a very modern city.
If you are looking for a different place to stay whilst in the city, we both highly recommend this apartment.
At the other end of the spectrum, with the feeling of an expensive hotel room but with significantly more space is La Nuit. Subtly decorated, the oversized bedroom, with its wooden beamed ceiling and large windows, is extremely welcoming.
The cream panelling that separates the bedroom to the bathroom adds to the stylish ambience, along with the numerous antique goods that have specifically been chosen to enhance the room. Each piece has been sourced with great care, some taking years to procure.
It was hard to decide which item was my favourite; the traditional jet-black lacquered telephone with operator only facilities or the glamorous rocking chair which had been placed in front of one of the large windows where I could quite happily sit for hours reading or watching the TV.
Once inside the bathroom there is only one thing that draws the eye, the huge roll-top bath. With traditional, gleaming taps it is easy to see yourself whiling away hours here with a hot bubble bath and a good book.
Unlike the first apartment, the interior here does lend towards those wanting to spend longer in the city. Not only is there a vast amount of space there is also amble hanging space for your clothes and a cleverly placed screen to hide luggage.
Booking a room here should appeal to those that like the luxury that comes with a hotel room but with added space. However, whereas most apartments come with a kitchen or space for cooking this particular apartment will appeal to those that prefer going out to sample the fine cuisine that Nantes has to offer.
Jules Verne’s written word appears on the walls of this apartment, but unlike other apartments that are based on his novels, this one features his poetry and whilst he may not be remembered for his poems, like other famous poets are, through his work he has managed to influence the work completed here by local artists.
Who Else May Like This Apartment?
This apartment holds as much character on the outside as it does the inside. Located on the Loire Valley overlooking Ȋle de Nantes, it is a building of great historical significance. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, this former Captain’s building, appears to slate to one side when you look at it head on which only adds to the intrigue of what lies behind the heavy wooden door.
So, if you are a history geek, as well as a bookworm, this becomes the perfect location for you.
Each of the locations we were fortunate to stay in held a certain charm. One was distinctive, playful and cleverly created with a strong theme in mind, whereas the second was calming and indulgent with a hint of historical glamour.
Surprenantes has nine apartments in total, all decorated with either Jules Verne or the city of Nantes in mind. So whether you are visiting Nantes to explore or on business, if you are in need of your personal space, we promise if you book with Surprenantes you will have an experience to remember.
Have you ever booked a hotel or apartment because of its quirkiness? We would love to hear more about the unusual accommodation choices you have made? Were they successful? Would you stay there again?
Disclaimer: We did receive a discounted stay with Surprenantes but all views and opinions are our own.