Here at Hero & Leander we find the idea of exploring spiritual locations together so romantic. This is why we have put together a list of some of the world’s best sacred stays. Think rustic church conversions, otherworldly temple hotels and magnificent monasteries- what could be more divine.
At the Chapel- Bruton, Somerset, United Kingdom
Located in the quiet town of Bruton in Somerset, this medieval chapel turned contemporary boutique hotel makes for the perfect romantic retreat or celebratory getaway. Heavy wooden doors lead to an open lounge and dining area with a soaring high ceiling and two enormous chapel-style windows. Handmade furniture, priceless modern art (including that by Tracey Emin and Turner Prize winner Martin Creed), a suspended bauble chandelier and a mass of flickering church candles gives the space an extra special feel. Eight bedrooms boast original stained-glass windows, White Company linens, double-ended bathtubs and large TVs with a hard drive of movies. Spend days exploring Bruton’s delis, antique stores, quirky shops and beautiful architecture or don walking boots and stroll around nearby country trails including the Leyland Trail and Macmillan Way (the hotel even lends Hunter Wellies to those without).
Prices available from £125 per room per night based on two sharing a Small Room on a B&B basis. To book visit www.i-escape.com/at-the-chapel
Le Grotte della Civita, Matera, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy
Le Grotte della Civita is a truly unique hotel, located in the UNESCO-listed troglodyte town of Matera. The hotel itself consists of 18 bedrooms and a restaurant, each built into limestone caves and interwoven by narrow cobbled streets. Inhabited since prehistoric times, these underground spaces include a handful of rock-hewn churches and half-carved dwellings- looking out on to the Gravina gorge below. They have been renovated over 10 years with obsessive attention to detail and utter respect for the past. Each room has a romantic feel with flickering candles, carved crosses, roaring fires and oversized egg-shaped bathtubs by Philippe Starck. Look closer and you’ll even spot concealed spotlights in the walls and underfloor heating beneath the time-worn cobblestones. Suite 13 in particular forms part of a deconsecrated church, complete with angel-shaped indents in the walls. Spend days exploring the 150 surrounding rock churches (from the Byzantine Empire), visit contemporary sculpture museum MUSMA or simply hike, horse ride or mountain bike through the surrounding countryside.
Prices available from £218 per room per night based on two sharing a Standard Room on a B&B basis. To book visit www.i-escape.com/le-grotte-della-civita
The Lalit Temple View Khajuraho, India
Ok so this may not be a sacred stay in itself, but what could be more beautiful and spiritual than waking up to the view of magnificent temples each morning. As the only five-star hotel with an uninterrupted view of the Western Group of Khajuraho temples, The Lalit Temple View Khajuraho offers a travel experience unlike any other. The Khajuraho Temples are amongst the most important medieval monuments in India. Originally a group of 85, they are the world’s largest group of Hindu and Jain temples, although only about 25 of them remain. Khajuraho epitomises the glorious art and architecture that flourished in 10th-century India, and located in the very heart of this magical place, The Lalit Temple View Khajuraho brings its cultural significance into immediate focus. Embellished with rich and exotic details that mirror its unique setting, this luxury boutique hotel is the perfect place for guests to unwind after a day of discovery in Khajuraho. Complementing its 47 magnificently appointed rooms and suites are equally spectacular outdoor spaces. Tailor-made for relaxation, these feature exquisite gardens, a large swimming pool and a Krishna temple visited by a priest each evening for a traditional Sandhya Aarti ritual. Every facet of the Lalit Temple View Khajuraho immerses guests in the heritage of Khajuraho, whether through its very own light and sound show that evokes the life and times of the great Chandela Kings or the Ayurvedic colour healing treatments at the hotel’s award-winning Rejuve – The Spa.
For more information please visit www.thelalit.com/the-lalit-temple-view-khajuraho/
Monastère des Augustines, Québec City, Canada
Located in the heart of Old Québec in Québec City, Le Monastère des Augustines occupies the historic wings of the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery which dates back to 1639 and once housed the first hospital on the continent north of Mexico. Originally founded by the Augustinian Sisters, an order of nuns sent from France by Louis XIII, the building has been sensitively restored and redesigned into a not-for-profit wellness hotel which opened last summer. The hotel offers a unique wellness experience which pays homage to the Augustinian Sisters’ rich heritage and also houses a museum displaying artefacts whose origins span across four centuries. In keeping with the Augustinian Sisters’ mission, Le Monastère des Augustines offers a wide range of activities and services in holistic health, all either with accommodation or on a à la carte basis.
Prices start from CAD$84 per person per night based on two sharing. For more information please visit monastere.ca/en
Monks of Neydo Monastery, Nepal
If you are looking for a truly authentic spiritual experience then it doesn’t get more authentic that staying at the Neydo Monastery. This is an unbelievable unique experience and opportunity to witness everyday life in a Tibetan monastery in Nepal. Couples will stay in a guesthouse at the Neydo Monastery, nestled in the Kathmandu Valley where they can watch the monks praying, chanting and offering sacrifices. Be prepared for early starts every day as the bells ring to wake the monks at 5am=- witness them having debates, morning prayers and learning to write and read Tibetan. 5 star luxury it is definitely not, but a meaningful experience almost always trumps luxury- this truly is one to tell the grandkids about.
This two-day bite-size trip is priced from £68 and includes accommodation (based on two people sharing), breakfast and transfer from Kathmandu.
For more information visit www.rickshawtravel.co.uk/asia/nepal/trips/culture/monks-of-neydo-monastery/ or call 01273 934 823
Eremo della Giubiliana, Val di Noto & the South East, Ragusa, Sicily
A truly luxurious historic converted monastery which is steeped in history, experience a unique holiday in the 12th century Eremo della Giubiliana located in Ragusa. Beginning life as an ecclesiastical feudal hold of Renna, over the last 900 years the convent building has served as an Arab home, a defensive fortress and as host to the Knights of the Order of San Giovanni. Today the building functions as a 5-star, luxurious hotel, though the heritage remains in the retention of authentic features.
7 nights are from £767pp, saving £240pp departing selected dates in October. Flights, car hire and B&B board are included. For more information please visit https://www.sicilianplaces.co.uk/eremo-della-giubiliana
Restival, Arizona, USA
Following the incredible success of Restival in the Moroccan Sahara last November, Restival Arizona is working closely with noted artists, sweat lodge leaders, and community leaders of the Navajo Tribe to create a one-off opportunity to experience their ancient culture, heritage and wisdom. The setting for Restival Arizona sits within the four Sacred Mountains that define Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland. This gateway looks out over a vast panorama that includes the Navajo Nation and Hopi mesas, as well as its nearby neighbour, the famous art installation – the Roden Crater. Rise and shine in a Navajo Tipi to the changing colours of the Painted Desert to the east; then watch the sun set behind the Sacred Mountain of the west, Dook’oo’sliid, also known as the San Francisco peaks. Offering more than just an amazing travel experience, Restival is filled with specially curated workshops and fun activities. Unplug, unwind and restore your physical and mental equilibrium in a truly incredible setting. Above all else, embrace a rare opportunity to reimagine the world from a fresh and fascinating perspective with the Navajo.
Restival Arizona launches this September (8 – 13 and 16 – 21 September, 2016) For more information please visit https://restival.global/
Read on for more information about Restival Arizona http://hero-and-leander.com/time-for-restival-arizona
Villa Il Carmine, near to Pierantonio in Umbria, Italy
Villa Il Carmine’s delightful peace and quiet is a result of its original purpose – as a monastery – now restored with 21st century comforts. The property is set within a beautiful rural area surrounded by olive groves and light woodland. It comprises an original church which accommodates the main living areas and an adjacent farmhouse with eight spacious and stylishly furnished bedrooms. Arched alcoves and stone archways recall the villa’s heritage, though facilities are bang up-to-date, with WiFi, satellite TV and large swimming pool. The estate produces its own olive oil and wine (available to guests) and there is a fishing lake, truffle wood and various walking trails. Despite its off-the-beaten-track location it is well located for visiting some of Umbria’s best known towns and villages including Perugia and Assisi.
Villa Il Carmine is available for rent from Red Savannah from £5,686 per week for up to 14 guests (£407 per person based on full occupancy) For more information please visit http://www.redsavannah.com/luxury-villas/europe/italy/umbria/villa-il-carmine/overview/
Pousada Convento de Évora, Portugal
The Pousada of Évora combines elegant design with the charm of the building that was initially the Monastery of S. João Evangelista, founded in 1485, where the Lóios friars lived in. The Hotel is in the heart of Évora, a city declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its 36 rooms have been recreated, based upon the old cells on the first floor, which is accessed via a monumental staircase. Each room is different from another, and all have their own character, with a mix of contemporary interior design, which brings a unique soul to each individual space. In the Lóios Convent, the peace of the Alentejo region is felt throughout, each stone and antique exudes history, in an atmosphere that takes guests back in time.
Rates start from €165 per room per night. For more information please visit http://www.pousadas.pt/en/hotel/pousada-evora
Monastero Santa Rosa, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa is a spectacular former 17th-century monastery which has been restored into just 20 beautiful sea views guest rooms and suites and boasts the one of the finest spa’s on Italy’s iconic Amalfi Coast. Nestled into the side of a cliff providing breathtaking views over the Gulf of Salerno, guests can while away hours between the hotel’s incredible heated infinity pool, stunning landscaped gardens spread over five tiers and the unique, award-winning Spa that has been created within a labyrinth of historic monastic spaces and outdoor pavilions. Arguably the pièce de résistance of the Spa providing the perfect spot for couples to unwind in the utmost privacy, the spa suite is a spa within a spa. Monastero Santa Rosa also has a superb restaurant serving authentic and seasonal dishes incorporating the freshest local ingredients and the hotel is perfectly located just a 20-minute car or boat ride from some of the coastline’s most scenic towns including Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.
Scott Dunn offers 7 nights B&B at Monastero Santa Rosa from £1,750 per person, based on 2 people sharing a Sea View Superior Double Room and including return flights from UK and return private transfers. www.scottdunn.com / 020 8682 5040