Monasteries and Convents: Unconventional Lodging At Its Best

Unconventional Lodging

Monasteries and Convents: Unconventional Lodging At Its Best

One of the great things about traveling is that you get to stay in a nice, comfortable accommodation where someone else is responsible for changing the sheets and keeping your room clean.  Unfortunately, most of us are programmed to automatically book a hotel when considering places to lay our head during vacation.   If you’re like me, you may be a little more adventurous and prefer unusual digs that most tourists would not only dream about but be totally unaware of its existence. Staying at a monastery or convent is a perfect off the beaten path mode of lodging that more people are taking advantage of these days.  As an added bonus, it helps to create lasting memories and is kinder to your wallet.

Unconventional Lodging

Once a former hospital, Park House Guesthouse is located in Liverpool, England and is run by Augustinian nuns. All rooms are en-suite and the available amenities are television, beverage equipment, ironing facilities, on-site parking and full board. A theater and library, as well as shops and restaurants, are nearby. Rates start at 32€ pp. Visit them at http://parkhse.com

 

Unconventional Lodging

A view of one of Park House’s double rooms

The number of monks and nuns is dwindling; so many monasteries and convents are beginning to offer their properties for short and long term lease.  It makes sense to offer the available quarters for rent because the revenue helps to pay for the upkeep of the often aging structures.  Some are still fully functioning entities while others have been converted to Inns and B & B’s rather than be left empty.  While they may not offer creature comforts like four and five-star hotels, this would be a great opportunity to enjoy the historical aspect of such properties.

Unconventional Lodging

The Abbey of Mount Melleray was originally founded in 1832 in Brittany, France but their monks were expelled during the French Revolution so they decided to relocate to Cappoquin, Waterford, Ireland. Today the monks operate a thriving dairy farm and an abbey guesthouse with shared bathrooms (prices are to be negotiated). The monks also manage an on-site gift shop and cafe.  Visit them at http://mountmellerayabbey.org

In most instances, the daily rates are between $25.00 to $95.00 US for singles and doubles; $100+ for suites, the rooms are average size, some meals may be included and bathrooms are likely shared.  While these accommodations are available worldwide, US properties may tend to be a bit more modernized while European ones are more historical treasures.  My friend, Eileen Barish runs a website and sells guidebooks that spotlight European monasteries and convents.  You will be amazed at the excellent deals that can be had for staying at such elegantly stoic landmarks.

Unconventional Lodging

Unique geometric exterior of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota USA

 

Unconventional Lodging

St. John’s Abbey offers singles, doubles, and suites from 65.00 to 110.00. Each room is minimally furnished and has a private bath, lake views, heating and air, a phone for local calls and is wired for internet access.  Contact them at http://abbeyguesthouse.org/

Monasteries and convents are often sought out when people are looking for their own personal spiritual retreat.  The grounds are quiet, one can walk the gardens in peaceful introspection and there are many places where you can sit in solitude without being disturbed.   This type of pilgrimage or retreat is not suitable for the tourist because most of the time is spent in prayerful silence and religious worship.  While they do not proselytize or force feed their religious beliefs, they only ask that you respect their standards of conduct.  Please note that they may also have standing curfews that are strictly enforced.  If curfews are a concern, be sure to ask about their policies before booking your stay.

Unconventional Lodging

Maison Notre-Dame du Chene is a spiritual pilgrimage located in Loire, France. While there is a separate house for families and groups to use for celebrations and meetings, the guesthouse is primarily reserved for those seeking religious sanctuary. All guestrooms are ensuites and breakfast is served daily; rates begin at 35€ pp.  Visit them at http://www.notredameduchene.com/prier/340_centre_spirituel_inscription.php

In her books about European Monastery lodging, Good Night and God Bless, Trish Clark “provides detailed descriptions of each type of facility.  There are directions on how to get there, along with general tourist information and some ideas for things to do and see in the surrounding area.  It also lists nearby restaurants and pubs.”

Unconventional Lodging

Located in Kent, England, this 13th-century order of the Carmelites provides single, double and family rooms at rates beginning at 26€ pp including breakfast. The Friars Aylesford Priory has an on-site restaurant and sits on acres of park-like grounds.  Visit them at http://thefriars.org.uk

 

Unconventional Lodging

One of the eighty bedrooms located in the Friar’s guesthouse

The beauty of the entire experience is that you’ll  never know what hidden gem you will find in your research on monasteries and convents.  A perfect case in point: Maison du Seminaire in Nice, France.  Located at the foot of the Mediterranean Sea, this beautiful former Seminary has 60 rooms that rents for 70€ per night.  Each room is en suite, has televisions and telephones and wi-fi and parking are free.  The rooms are bijou, but the views more than makeup for that.  There is a restaurant on the first floor that opens out onto an outdoor terrace.  From that vista, you will get to see the rich and spoiled frolic on the beach or watch them sail by on their luxurious yachts.   The delicious irony for you, my dear budget traveler, is that you get to enjoy the same beach for a mere pittance compared to what they’ve paid.

Unconventional Lodging

What’s not to love about this location?

 

With a room view like this…the accommodation gods have smiled down upon you.

 

Rooms are small and practical, but would you really go there just to spend your time sleeping?

 

Fantastically magical views from the outdoor terrace.

So, what do you think, dear reader?  Would this type of accommodation be appealing to you?  Or you may have already had the good fortune to stay at one of the monasteries or convents.  If so, where did you stay and would you recommend it to the rest of us?

Comments

comments

Renee King
aviewtoathrill@gmail.com
23 Comments
  • ! Border Breaker !
    Posted at 06:41h, 16 January Reply

    luxury accomodation ftw!

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:38h, 16 January Reply

      C’mon now….I just went to your website and you strike me as someone who can forego a Heavenly(®) bed for something a bit more extraordinary. Challenge yourself! ;-D

    • Carole Timpson-Wiltowski
      Posted at 08:09h, 29 October Reply

      I’ve stayed in a couple of monasteries and convents some have really comfortable accommodation (Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton particularly). They are geared up for providing retreats or budget accommodation to the weary traveller. Also, they’re often in historically interesting building with really tranquil surroundings and are somewhere I would recommend.

      • Renee King
        Posted at 13:55h, 01 November Reply

        Thanks, Carole! I appreciate your sharing more convent/monastery resources with everyone.

  • robin
    Posted at 09:14h, 16 January Reply

    Unusual accommodation can sometimes be the highlight of a trip.

  • inka
    Posted at 12:18h, 16 January Reply

    I went to boarding school run by nuns. Would love to return as a hotel guest so they would have to make my bed.

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:27h, 16 January Reply

      Ok, Inka….you made me spit out my coffee!

  • Michael Figueiredo
    Posted at 15:46h, 16 January Reply

    I wouldn’t mind waking up with that view from Maison du Seminaire one bit!

  • Jozef Maxted
    Posted at 16:01h, 16 January Reply

    I think its good to consider staying unusual places like this. My eldest brother stayed at a monastery for a month once!

  • Jeremy B
    Posted at 00:03h, 17 January Reply

    This type of accommodation definitely appeals to me. I like the budget aspect, enjoy the peace of quiet, and would definitely be interested. Hotels are the typical place to stay for most but I really like this information and all the different options for monasteries.

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:13h, 24 January Reply

      Agreed 100%…I would feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven…no pun intended.

  • Adam
    Posted at 15:39h, 17 January Reply

    What a cool experience it would be to stay in some of these places. We are always looking for new and different places to stay, especially if it’s good on the ol’ wallet. We prefer to stay in hostel-type accommodations (still in a private room) while traveling anyway, so these would be right up our alley. We always prefer to spend our money on experiences and forgo a bit of comfort, so this looks like the best of both worlds.

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:12h, 24 January Reply

      Wouldn’t this be a fantastic experience? I am definitely planning on staying in one the next time I’m in Europe.

  • Suzy
    Posted at 15:26h, 22 January Reply

    Definitely a great option in terms of accommodations. I’m going to Ireland for a month so I hope to stumble upon a few monasteries/castles to stay in on my time there.

    • Renee
      Posted at 16:43h, 22 January Reply

      Suzy,
      Do a google search on Mercy Int’l Center and Marino Institute of Education in Dublin, Glenstal Abbey Monastic guesthouse in Limerick. There seems to be plenty of options in Ireland….good luck and have a great time.

  • Sandra McLeod Humphrey
    Posted at 17:35h, 10 August Reply

    WOW–I LOVE the idea! I stayed at a monastery about twenty years ago and I loved it! The beauty of the grounds was almost overwhelming–it was like being in a whole different world! Thanks so much for your great blog!

  • Lyn
    Posted at 23:26h, 09 November Reply

    I haven’t thought of a Monastery as a place to stay, but what a great idea. So different and so much atmosphere in these old buildings, and you can but wonder about what went on behind these walls many many years ago. I’m sure most would have an interesting history. And where would you get a room with a view like that?

    • Renee
      Posted at 10:24h, 14 November Reply

      Amen, Lyn! It’s such a novel idea but I would imagine would be so peaceful….sometimes, that’s just what the doctor ordered.

  • nathalie
    Posted at 10:34h, 05 January Reply

    Between sea and countryside, Discover benedictine’s life and spiritual retreat this is St Anne of Kergonan Abbey, in Brittany (France).

    The guesthouse is open all year round to individuals or groups.

    You could see all detail on http://www.kergonan.org. (we have English version)

  • nani
    Posted at 03:59h, 20 June Reply

    The Friars Aylesford Priory is interesting for me! thank you for the information

  • Lisa
    Posted at 11:03h, 18 February Reply

    I would definitely stay at a monastery or convent. I would love the peace and quiet. Great post you’ve written here–truly useful!
    Lisa recently posted…Trippy Travel Photo #23: Nearly-Nude Woman Fresco–Qasr Amra Desert Castle, #JordanMy Profile

  • Dianne
    Posted at 20:42h, 26 April Reply

    Dear Rene, I am looking for a place like this for one to three months in Southern California. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

  • Shana Manuel
    Posted at 11:06h, 26 August Reply

    Great advice for saving on hotel rooms! I’ll definitely have to try this one out!

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