We’re all looking for that unique accommodation at an exceptional price.
Often we have to settle for one or the other. But what if both of those things were possible?
Well, one often overlooked option that ticks all the boxes is monastery stays.
Yes, that’s right, you can kip overnight in a monastery and it doesn’t cost a bundle.
In fact, due to their historical tradition of giving sanctuary and rest to pilgrims, they were probably the original bed and breakfasts.
First up, it’s important to note you don’t have to be in any way religious to stay in a monastery. They admit all comers, well, within reason of course.
The good thing about monastery stays is that historically churches were the centre of much wealth and they are very often stunning examples of the architecture of their time.
Their central position in life also meant they are also often physically well situated in the centre of towns or with a view.
However, unless it is no longer functioning as a religious site, don’t expect five-star facilities or service, or even three star.
Rooms will be pretty basic, bathrooms may be shared, wifi may be dodgy, television non-existent and meals may not be an option. And you can forget about heated pools, massages or spas. Monks don’t have a lot of need for those.
On the plus side, you will not be staying in some cookie-cutter hotel. Monasteries come in all shapes and sizes, and cover centuries of history.
You don’t have to pray to stay
And while you don’t have to be religious, it’s a good idea to be respectful if there is still a religious community there.
Most monasteries operate on a quiet lifestyle, which is part of their appeal and you would be wise to follow that trend. Don’t drink to excess, stay out late or party in your room.
There is no expectation to participate in any religious services and you probably won’t be asked about your faith. However, if you do wish to join a service simply ask one of the inhabitants who can provide times and locations.
In many ways it’s like staying in a hotel. You will check in and be given a room key, but the person checking you in may be a monk or nun.
It is advisable to plan your stay through a booking service. As many monasteries operate on minimum technology, communication directly with the community can be difficult. It’s much easier to book through a third party and several specialist tourism companies can help you out. Do a quick online search to make a start.
As you would expect, most monasteries offering accommodation are concentrated in Europe but there are options all over the world including Australia. Many Asian countries also offer temple stays.
Would you consider a monastery stay or have your tried it? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below.
Also read: Where to go off grid in Australia