The Ultimate Guide to Staying In Monasteries
Before you jump straight to the same homogenous and bland hostels and guest houses, join more and more visitors in discovering the significant benefits of staying in a Monastery.
The experts on Everything Monasteries at Monasteries.com have collated all you could ever want to know about staying in a Monastery and how to make the most of a trip like no other. Enjoy a richly rewarding and unique experience, staying in beautiful historic buildings on the doorstep of some of Europe’s most iconic monuments and attractions, and save money while you are at it!
What’s special about Staying in a Monastery?
The warm hospitality, peace and tranquillity on offer ensures a restful break few can match. The perfect secluded retreat from the stresses of modern living.
And while some properties may lack the full mod-cons of the 21st Century (others have been upgraded to fully-fledged hotels) the historic, cultural and spiritual significance of the properties are unrivalled. Many properties feature vast halls, communal lounges and dining rooms or rooftop terraces - not to mention stunning on-site Chapels. Visitors may find paintings and sculptures and other artwork and relics throughout the building. Some Monasteries equate to living museums, such is the heritage and history of these centuries-old buildings.
Walled or courtyard gardens, a feature of many Monasteries, provide an oasis of calm in the hustle and bustle of tourist towns, adding to the unique ambiance only afforded to buildings of the grandeur and history of Monasteries.
Furthermore, the Abbeys, Convents and Monasteries at Monasteries.com start from as little as €23 a night and provide low cost city centre stays in some of Europe’s most visited cities. The Casa Il Rosario in Rome, for example, is opposite the Roman Forum and steps from the Piazza Venezia and Trevi Fountain, with ensuite double rooms available for less than €30pp.
Who Can Stay in a Monastery?
Anyone! Some guests may be fearful of draconian rules and nightly prayers but you need not worry: the hospitality provided is often more welcoming, encompassing and friendly than you might expect. Remember Monasteries have offered sanctuary to Pilgrims and travelers for centuries, with a vow of ‘Hospitality’ a feature for many religious orders.
There are no requirements to be of a religious background. Properties are available to any guests respectful of the surroundings, the lifestyle and the monks. Often the only major restriction will be a curfew - which is typically between 10pm and midnight. Where other restrictions exist, they will be explained on the profile page of the monastery on this website.
Making the Best Of Your Monastic Travels
Deciding to visit a monastery or convent is a very deliberate choice and itself makes a statement about the kind of trip you are going to make. You may have stayed in many monasteries and understand what to expect. But if not, it’s a decision to make with your eyes wide open and having done a fair amount of research about the place you are going to (as with any trip!); in making it, a visitor is undertaking to go to the home of a group of people who have themselves taken a very distinct path in life. Implicit, then, in this, is that you as the visitor will embrace the ethos and routine of the monastery/convent concerned. This of course may be the very purpose of the visit, in which case we risk preaching to the choir here(!), but it is nonetheless important to be really clear at the outset that staying at one of these places will be unlike other holidays
For many, “Experiencing the monastic life” is a wonderfully enriching and rejuvenating way to spend time – which is of course why we have set up this website.
Naturally you may choose to make a booking at a monastery because of its excellent location, or because it is a fraction of the price of the hotel next door, which of course is fine! But we would suggest there is a huge amount to be gained by taking advantage of what each monastery has to offer. By attending the services, walking the grounds, speaking with the monks (if and when appropriate), enjoying the tranquillity, participating in the schedule of the abbey, and indeed praying alongside the community, one can then begin to get a true sense of what monastic life is all about. By doing this, visitors can gain a much deeper appreciation of the places they visit, and the people they meet.
What to expect of a room in a Monastery?
Accommodation in Monasteries can mean missing out on some of the more extravagant hotel luxuries, with few technological amenities and simple furnishings, although all provide comfortable sleeping quarters, with most now offering ensuite facilities and meals included in the price. And while technology could be at a minimum, this adds to the ambience of peace and seclusion, away from the wider world.
Beds are typically single or twin rooms, although some modern Monastery accommodation caters to families. Rooms may be in a separate guest suite of the Monastery or there may be dormitory bunks typical of hostels. Double beds are rare with some convents not allowing unmarried couples to share a room.
There are also more modern monasteries which have seen investment and upgrade which sees them as your more typical hotel or B&B accommodation, many featuring on Monasteries.com.
The Casa di Santa Brigida for example, is home to all modern conveniences with every room fitted with en-suite, TV, air-conditioning, while guests can enjoy luxurious lounges, a rooftop garden and vast library.
What about Food?
Food plays a very important role in Monastic life, with guests often encouraged to come together for mealtimes with the comforting fare, warm welcome and friendly conversation not something to miss out on during a stay. The opportunity for communal meals and conversations with other guests or your hosts play a key role in the immersive experience, should you wish. Most properties will provide bed and breakfast as standard with many catering for all meals, full board, if booked in advance.
Also, don’t forget to look out for any nun-baked treats with many Monasteries producing their own baked goods (as well as fruit, vegetables and wine from the gardens). Pastries, cookies and cakes are typical fare, with the distinctive Yemas de Santa Teresa pastry a particular hit across Spain.
Do I need to know anything about religion to stay in a Monastery?
For those undertaking Religious pilgrimages or Pilgrim Walks there is no more suitable place to lay your head at the end of the day. Immersing yourself in the community of others who share the same faiths and beliefs can lead to the more treasured of holiday experiences.
However, there are no requirements for guests to involve themselves in religion or have any deep-rooted beliefs, Monasteries cater for all religions and none, although making the most of your stay would involve embracing the way of life within these special buildings
For those seeking a crash course in Monasteries ahead of a visit, we have you covered with Monasteries.com featuring details on the History, a summary of the different Orders within the Catholic Church, a Who’s Who of Monasticism as well as a dictionary to help you out with some of the more obscure Monastic terms.
Are there any rules to staying in a Monastery?
In keeping with the ambience and peaceful surroundings, when within the monastery guests are expected to be fairly quiet, while showing respect for the Monks and Nuns within the Monasteries. The Monasteries in question are often active religious communities, which while adding to the charm of the visit, means you are not in the typical commercial hotel. There are no obligations for religious belief or involvement in the Monastery activities - although this is encouraged if you are seeking a more immersive and fulfilling experience during your stay. Typically, Monasteries simply expect guests to respect their community and its values, seeing their stay as a peaceful and relaxing retreat, rather than a cheap city centre hostel to return to from a late night party.
Guests can expect a curfew which is typically between 10pm and midnight, while check in and check out may be more restrictive, with Monasteries lacking a 24 hour concierge! There may also be a minimum stay requirement, but these are clearly labeled within the Monastery profile on the website where applicable.
Where can I stay in Monastery accommodation?
Monasteries.com focuses on providing a booking platform for European religious orders with stays across mainland Europe, Great Britain and Ireland. There is particular emphasis on Italy, Spain and France, where convent accommodation is most prevalent, with sites offering a peaceful and tranquil stay at a very economical price.
Traditional Monasteries are more often found in rural communities while Abbeys and Convents are likely to be more centrally located, often close to historical churches or religious landmarks and in cities with a clear religious connection, such as Rome.
How much does a Monastery stay cost?
With technology at a minimum in many Monasteries - you won’t be using your credit card - reservations are essential and booking and paying in advance on a specialist website such as Monasteries.com ensures the smoothest of processes.
There is a wide range of accommodation available on Monasteries.com with prices starting from just €23 a night for an ensuite single.
Some Monastery accommodation is now being run by third parties as commercial ventures, while other convents are more traditional, run by the Sisters of the Order and this is reflected in both the price as well as the cultural experience.
Typically, Monasteries offer nightly rates in the region of €40-60 although this can vary depending on the facilities afforded, with the most luxurious of Monasteries rising to over €100 per person. Fares often include at least one meal, with full board usually an option.
How do I Book?
Using a specialist website such as Monasteries.com. We have designed our website to make it as simple as possible for visitors who may wish to stay at one of the monasteries or convents featured on it to do so. Clearly, the experience of staying at a monastery or convent is different to doing so elsewhere, and so too is the experience of booking your stay. So while we do indeed make it as simple as possible, it is well worth being aware of the advice below:
Reservations are essential for overnight stays. Where they do not share their live availability with us, they will accept (or decline) your booking within 24 hours, and you will then take our Letter of Introduction, complete with Arrival Information and your Booking Details, with you on arrival.
Many Monasteries' are not able to respond to enquiries from customers directly, so we recommend you use this website to answer your questions, and make your reservation online.