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.
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.
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 world-wide, 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.
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 were 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.
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.”
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. 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 is free. The rooms are bijou, but the views more than make up 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.
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?