Between hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs, there are plenty of accommodation options out there. But sometimes you just want to try something new. A monastery is a perfect place to stay for a unique vacation experience, full of peace and tranquillity. It might not be the first thing you think of, but monasteries are the original bed and breakfast. For centuries, monasteries have hosted weary pilgrims and travelers all over the world.
These days, you don’t need to be on a religious quest to stay the night at a monastery. Regular backpackers and vacationers are also welcome. Accommodation in a monastery usually means simple rooms, shared facilities, and a curfew. Most of them are remote and lack technology. This makes booking a monastery stay a little tricky as most don’t have websites. Luckily, some websites can help such as Monastery Stays, Good Night, and God Bless, and Santa Susanna.
Alternatively, some monasteries and convents have been turned into full-fledged hotels which you can book online. Although they are considerably more comfortable, you won’t get the same immersive experience. Whether you are looking to get away from it all, a spiritual retreat, or just a new way of traveling. Here are some of the best places to stay in a monastery all over the world.
If you are looking for meaning and spiritual enlightenment, this is a great place to go. The Benedictine nuns of Eibingen Abbey are welcoming to everyone seeking God or seeking answers.
This Abbey is beautiful, and visitors can stay in the guesthouse. There is a big library, a vineyard, a shop, and a café as well.
Italy is one of the most convenient countries to look for a monastery stay. In this Catholic country, monasteries and convents are not only a thing of the past. Beautifully preserved monasteries all around the country regularly welcome visitors.
One of the most beautiful and impressive stays is at Santuario di Oropa in Piedmont. In the north of Italy, this monastery boasts the Alps as a dramatic backdrop, perfect for hiking and mountaineering. The building is a beautiful mix of Baroque and Rococo and the rooms have antique furnishing.
This former monastery has been turned into a functioning hotel so you won’t find a traditional spiritual experience here. But that does not make it any less impressive. Most of the hotel is located inside caves, etched away from the stone.
The furnishing is traditional with lots of Turkish rugs and decorations. This is the perfect place if you are looking for a unique and beautiful hotel.
Jerusalem is the ultimate Christian pilgrim destination. No wonder there are several convent guesthouses and monasteries in the holy city. The Bridgettine Sisters run the most welcoming monastery guesthouse.
The monastery itself is beautiful, but the real selling point is the friendliness and hospitality of the sisters.
In Spain, lots of convents and monasteries have been converted into hotels called “parador.” But there are still active monasteries that travelers can stay at. The Monastery of the Virgin of the Olive Grove in Teruel is a beautiful traditional Spanish monastery. It is a popular place for spiritual retreats.
There are 30 guestrooms as well as a campground for youth. There are no obligations for your stay, but there are activities available.
For peace and quiet in the stunning Czech countryside, head to the Brevnov Premonstratensian Monastery in Želiv. This Baroque Gothic monastery looks like a postcard picture. Accommodation ranges from a communal hall to private apartments.
There are events, a spiritual rejuvenation program, and great hiking in the local area. The real draw is the monasteries brewery, which you can tour to try out local beers.
Have you ever wanted to stay in the heart of Paris on a budget? Well, you can! The Basilica of Mont Martre, the Sacre Coeur, is not only one of the biggest tourist hotspots of Paris. There is also a guesthouse located next to the church, where pilgrims are welcome to stay.
You can book a one, two or three-day retreat or an overnight stay. This is meant for people who want to pray and experience spiritual silence.
The Friars Aylesford is a beautiful old English monastery. The Medieval buildings have been maintained beautifully, albeit with an outdated décor. The accommodations are simple, but there is a nice common space for relaxation and beautiful countryside. There is a full board or bed&breakfast option, with meals served in a Medieval dining hall.
Aside from overnight stays, there are also pilgrimage and retreat offers. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you were in a Shakespeare play, this is where to go.
Nepal is known for its Buddhist monasteries, high up in the Himalayan mountains. The Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu is the perfect place to start a spiritual exploration in Nepal. They offer courses, retreats, and private stays as well as day visits.
You are expected to follow the guidelines and dress code during your stay. You are free to attend prayer, meditate, and explore the library
Monastery stays are even available down under. New Norcia is a Benedictine community where everyone is welcome. Aside from full retreats, guests can also attend prayers and mass. Simple meals are included in the stay, and there are different types of accommodation to choose from, from rooms to camping.
There is no fixed fee, instead, a donation is suggested to thank the monks for their hospitality.
Pousadas are the Portuguese version of the Spanish paradors. They are former monasteries and convents that have been converted into hotels. Pousada Mosteiro de Guimaraes won’t give you an authentic religious experience, but it will give you a lot of luxury and comfort.
The building is a beautifully restored 12th-century Augustine convent, which is now a luxury hotel. It overlooks Guimaraes and has a courtyard, garden, and pool.
A 14th-century Franciscan monastery close to Dubrovnik. Perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing holiday on the Croatian coast. The accommodation is simple and breakfast, and you’ll have to walk to a nearby hotel for breakfast. But there is a beach nearby, and you are welcome to attend the services.
Much like in Spain and Portugal, some monasteries in South America have been turned into hotels. The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena is a gorgeous five-star luxury hotel inside the former Santa Clara convent in Cartagena.
The enormous convent building is beautiful and completely upgraded to meet the standards of luxury travelers. You might just have a different kind of religious experience here.
What Catholic monasteries do in Italy, Buddhist monasteries do in India. Weary travelers from all walks of life are welcome to stay at one of the many monasteries throughout the country. The Nyingmapa monastery is the perfect place for a relaxing and quiet retreat.
A room at this beautiful and colorful monastery costs as little as 300Rs a night. Take your time to meditate, look out at the lake or explore the town.
Smack in the middle of Old Havana, between the bright colored houses, lies the Convento de Santa Brigida. The convent guesthouse is the perfect place to stay for a visit to Havana. The sisters are friendly and welcoming, and they provide travelers with a peaceful and safe home away from home.
Much like India, Thailand is a popular destination for Buddhist retreats. Wat Suan Mokkh offers a 10-day silent meditation retreat on the first of every month. Whether you are looking to challenge yourself, introspection or enlightenment, you are sure to find it here.
Everyone is welcome, but there is no option for advance booking. You’ll be provided with simple lodgings, shared facilities, and two vegetarian meals per day. All communication tools are locked away for the duration of the retreat so you can really get off-grid.
Sorry ladies, this one is for the men only, not even female animals are allowed. Mount Athos is a collection of 20 functioning monasteries that offer spiritual retreats. Stays are mostly silent and include two meals and Greek wine. This place is especially popular among posh Englishmen, in particular, Prince Charles.
Not all monasteries are historical buildings. The New Camaldoli Hermitage is a sleek and modern complex in Big Sur, California. Overnight stays are possible in a variety of accommodations, but there is a two-night minimum.
The monastery aims to offer a quiet and peaceful retreat, so no children are allowed. There is also no internet or cellphone service. There are private rooms, hermitage rooms, and monastic retreat cells.
South Korea is a great destination for those seeking Buddhist enlightenment. There is a specific program called temple stay that allows you to book a stay in a monastery. Geumsunsa in Seoul has arguably one of the most breathtaking views imaginable. It is located within the Mt. Bukhansan National Park, surrounded by beautiful greenery.
The regular temple stay program on the weekends includes activities to learn about Buddhism and Korean culture. During the week, there is no fixed schedule and is more aimed at relaxation and enjoying the scenery.
The Danube valley is one of Austria’s most picturesque regions. The view is especially spectacular from the Göttweig Abbey, perched atop a hill. The abbey is a popular destination for tourists, because of its cultural heritage.
There are a museum and restaurant as well as a guesthouse for travelers who are interested in a silent retreat and contemplation.
A stay in a monastery can be both a spiritual experience or a unique travel experience. Whether you stay in a luxurious former convent turned hotel or a traditional monastery retreat, this is something you just have to try. So the next time you are in any of the above countries, why not add a monastery stay to your itinerary? It’s the perfect place to relax, recharge, and connect with your spirituality.