Throughout the ages, religious orders have traditionally offered lodging and a bite to eat in return for a small donation. Although few were aware of it until very recently, this tradition continues today. Convents and monasteries around the globe supplement their income by offering cheap, clean, and safe accommodations for modern day pilgrims.
I first heard about this practice when I was traveling around the world in 2007. On the backpacker trail for six months, I learned that rooms at convents were available for astoundingly cheap rates. The only downside seemed to be that the residents retire early – guests who don’t return by 9 or 10 p.m. find themselves locked out for the night. That was no problem for me, as I’m not much interested in nightlife, so I decided to try to find a convent in Italy. I hoped to stay in one in Rome that was supposed to be across the street from the Colosseum. Unfortunately I never could find it and I left Europe without the experience of staying overnight in a convent.
I haven’t given up. Staying in monasteries and convents still appeals to me. And now, courtesy of the new book, Good Night & God Bless, the process of identifying, contacting and arranging for accommodations will simplify my next attempt. Backed by a lifetime of travel and sleeping in religious facilities, author Trish Clark decided to share her wealth of information in a series of three novels with the first covering Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Clark has listed both Open Houses (suitable for all travelers) as well as Spiritual Retreats, which are designed for those wishing to immerse themselves in a spiritual holiday such as meditation, retreats, or a pilgrimage. Each listing provides a thorough description of the facility, including information about meals, laundry service, reservation procedures, nearby local attractions, and whether the area is well served by restaurants and public transportation.
Clark also debunks the myth that staying in a religious establishment means adopting austerity, stating, “Pleasure does not necessarily go out the window the minute you book in. Wine is often served at lunch and dinner. Meals are sometimes prepared using the monastery’s home-grown herbs and vegetables and some convent dining rooms are popular with the locals.” Rooms are identified as being “ensuite” (bathroom in the room), or sharing a bath, and rates are quoted on prices quoted are approximate and are based on a twin share, per person, per night basis for the low season. The convent I sought near the Colosseum, Casa II Rosario, has rates beginning at 40 Euros per night per person.
Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convent & Monastery Accommodation in Europe: Austria, Czech Republic, Italy is available through Amazon.com for only $13.60, a savings of $6.40 off the suggested $20 retail price. Had this book been available when I visited Italy, I would have saved a great deal of money on accommodations. I’ll definitely use this guidebook the next time I visit Europe and I’m looking forward to Clark’s next two volumes, although I do hope she opts to create an electronic version for Kindle in the not too distant future.
13 thoughts on “Good Night and God Bless”
Karen…so please try and remember address ASP would really like to stay there day after tomorrow….
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Love the idea of that book and love staying in monasteries – as a Catholic I’m quite at home. here are couple of places with a religious connection that I’ve stayed at and enjoyed;
And in Lebanon
What a good idea for a travel book. I’ve heard about a convent in NYC around Chelsea for years but have never been able to find it. It’s supposed to be a great place to stay in New York. Looks like I need to get the book! Do you know if it covers places in Asia…I can’t imagine there would be many!
Wow! This sounds wonderful. Wish I had time to take a trip to Italy and check these places out.
I spent a week as an early teen at a convent, where my best friend’s aunt was a nun. It was a retirement convent in an old girl’s boarding school. We had the run of the property and even found the hidden bottle of wine :0)
I’d love to get my hands on this book and travel around staying in some of these places. Thanks for this find!
Barbara, thanks for the tip about this book. I’m happy to see it was published this year. The old standard on this topic had gotten quite elderly. Although I haven’t tried convent stays yet myself, I intend to do so someday. Prices of hotels in Italy are out of sight, so this is a welcome alternative.
Santa Susanna is the American Catholic church in Rome. Its site, http://www.santasusanna.org lists very useful information for tourists to Rome, although they don’t provide lodging, despite what you may have read.
Karen, I’ll send you a nickel if you can remember the name of that place at Piazza Navona!
I stayed in one in Rome once and the stay was excellent. Not only fairly cheap but friendly and with excellent meals available if you wished. It is the only one I’ve tried and it was as much by accident as by design (suggested by another backpacker). A book covering them sounds a good topic and should end up being rather popular.
Thanks Karen that does sound good!
There is a wonderful convent in downtown Rome by the Piazza Navona (if I remember correctly) that offers delicious dinners for as very reasonable price. It is served family style and even today, I can savor the flavors and taste of the homemade pastas.
This looks wonderful, Barbara. The cover is just lovely.
Great idea! I never really considered staying in a monistary or convent but the idea seems really appealing. I guess the older I get going to bed early doesn’t bother me 🙂