You don't have to live like a monk to find accommodation in a monastery. Many monasteries welcome visitors with no religious affiliation. However, some do offer religious retreats. To find out more about these intriguing places to stay, check out the following titles in Eileen Barish’s Guide Series to Lodging in Monasteries: inexpensive accommodations, remarkable historic buildings, legendary locations.
Lodging in Spain’s Monasteries
"The monks and abbesses embrace visitors as family for the duration of their stay. The food is hearty, wholesome and generous - and many monasteries are filled with priceless, rarely-seen art. The book offers a wealth of unbiased, in-depth information so tourists can choose the prefect destinations. From Madrid to the white cities and everywhere in between, Spain has never been so affordable and authentic. • compiled from personal interviews with residents and staff of each monastery • detailed guides to local towns and sights • brief history of each locale • overview of accommodations and prices." from Amazon
The Guide to Lodging in Britain's Monasteries
"As alternatives to the usual hotels and B&Bs, monasteries and convents may be equally comfortable and convenient. The author of these guides to such accommodations has invested a prodigious amount of research to insure that her readers find numerous possibilities for economical, educational, and possibly uplifting travel…" from Library Journal
The Guide to Lodging in Italy's monasteries
"Monasteries," Barish writes, "are an integral part of Italy's history and heritage and symbolize the incredibly diverse Italian culture." By conducting extensive research at each monastery, Barish has compiled a directory of detailed, precise information for a unique Italian experience: an inexpensive travel alternative to staying in big-name hotels. Each listing provides a history of the monastery, its artwork, and products as well as local events. The travel information on accommodations, amenities, cost, directions by car/train/plane, and contact names and addresses is clearly written. Barish also adds a personal touch by including reservation form letters written in English and Italian. The photographs accompanying each listing are enticing and breathtakingly beautiful…" from Library Journal
The Guide to Lodging in France's Monasteries
"Travel writer Barish adds a third volume (along with Spain and Italy) to her series on unique and inexpensive accommodations in monasteries, convents and religious guest houses, many of which are located in some of the most beautiful towns and villages in France. Travelers can stay, for example, in a 16th century building just a few feet from Chartres Cathedral or in a former castle in the village of Moulins-les- Metz in Lorraine. Most of the more than 150 institutions profiled accept guests without any religious obligation but some of them offer only spiritual retreats. Each entry includes information on the number of rooms, amenities, cost, availability of meals, any special rules, directions and contact information, and two to four pages on local tourist attractions…" from Library Journal
While you won't have to live like a monk, be aware that the accommodation may not be as fancy as in a hotel with room service and all the accoutrements. Some monasteries may even have curfews. So this is probably not the best accommodation if you like to party.
Some provide simple but good home cooked meals. It's worth it to take a look at the guides so that you know what to expect if you choose to stay at a monastery. If you are looking for accommodation with a difference, staying at a monastery is well worth investigating.