A Rare Gem: Le Monastere des Augustines—Stay in an Ancient Monastery

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While traveling through Quebec City, I fell in love with one absolutely unique stay. If your clients are looking to stay in a place that will have them sharing many stories when they return home, this is it. How does staying at an ancient Monastery sound? A former hospital? A museum? A place that housed soldiers during a war? Well, this distinct property checks off all of those. Le Monastere des Augustines is a rare gem, one that is perfect for those clients who seek a digital detox, or simply a wellness stay (while still having access to their cell phones), and even those clients who are obsessed with history, or even those who like to explore religion.

The pharmacy during the sisters’ stay is still intact and now part of the museum. (Photo credit: Michelle Marie Arean.)

For those seeking a wellness or a peaceful stay, the former monastery turned museum, plus wellness hotel should be at the top of your list. According to Marie-Eve Perron, manager for tourism development at the property, the ideal guest is “The wellness traveler looking for a transformational travel experience in a place that has been dedicated to healing, serenity and inwardness for nearly four centuries.”

The property, which just celebrated its third anniversary, opened in August 2015. As I wandered through the quiet halls, a feeling of peace and tranquility came over me. It could have been it’s simplistic take on decor. Or the property’s aim to keep the halls quiet. But one thing most of those in my group agreed on, was that it was definitely a location of peace. The halls are decorated with paintings and photos of the sisters who ran the monastery in the past. And onsite, guests can find a museum that houses artifacts that range from the sisters’ first hospital including items showcasing the development of the medical practice and pharmaceuticals, to the American Revolutionary War (the property once housed British soldiers for 25 years after it was bombed during the war—some canons can be seen in the vault), as well as many religious articles from the Augustinian Sisters’ history. One interesting experience is viewing what an original sisters’ room looked like during the time of their stay, in the authentic wing of the property,

A replica of what the sisters’ room looked like when they lived in the monastery. (Photo credit: Michelle Marie Arean.)

The Past & the History
If you’re wondering how a monastery became a hotel, it’s a bit of a long story that spans four centuries. So we asked Perron to explain…. “In the 1990’s, the Augustinian Sisters, confronted with their decline in number, started to reflect about the future of their heritage—their historic monastery as well as a collection of 40,000 artifacts and 1,094 yards of documents of archives and ancient books.”

The sisters wanted to pass on their heritage during their time, and to do so they entrusted their funding monastery and made the general public the beneficiary of their legacy.

“At the beginning, their intention was to open a museum,” added Perron. “Then, the idea came out to open an hotel, in order to finance the operation of the museum.

“Later, around 2012, with the arrival of our general manager Isabelle Duchesneau, the idea was developed to convert Le Monastere into a wellness hotel in order to perpetuate the mission of healing of the sisters, in a contemporary way, through a complete offer in holistic health. This is a very innovative concept that ensures the longevity of both the material and immaterial heritage of the Sisters.”

Guestroom in the Contemporary Wing. (Photo credit: Michelle Marie Arean.)

The Present
Now, the property has two distinct wings—the historic wing, the former Hotel-Dieu de Quebec Monastery, which was the first hospital in North America north of Mexico, and the contemporary wing, which is a new, more modern addition that connects to the original building. Guests can choose to stay in either one of the 33 authentic guestrooms, which have been restored in the spirit of monasticism (but keep in mind, these do not have a bathroom in the guestroom), or in one of the 32 contemporary guestrooms, which have been redesigned to offer the simplistic decor but also have their own private bathrooms ensuite. Guests staying in the authentic guestrooms can use a communal bathroom with private showers and toilet areas, but their guestroom does have a sink for their use. None of the rooms have a TV, and guests are encouraged to turn off phones and computers, but there is WiFi for those who choose not to completely disconnect.

There is an onsite restaurant offering healthy cuisine based on the principles of mindful eating, a lunch counter, and a boutique. There’s also an activity room with TVs, games, and a computer for guests to use. To keep with the Augustinian Sisters’ mission Le Monastere des Augustines also offers a range of activities and services in holistic health including workshops, three daily yoga sessions, and Tibetan Sound Bowls sessions. The property also offers onsite spa services that offer guests massage treatments, facials, lymphatic drainage, reflexology, and more. There are also onsite choir performances and concerts, and three daily religious services for those who choose to attend.

During my visit, the property was getting ready to welcome Seabourn Quest passengers who were going to attend a medicinal plants medical talk, tea tasting, and choir performance.

A few of the artifacts found in the museum. (Photo credit: Michelle Marie Arean. )

The best way agents can familiarize themselves with this extremely unique property is through the website, or a visit. I personally think a visit would be best, as a website won’t give you the feel of the unique ambiance at this property and its surroundings.

Since this property is so distinct from anything we’ve ever seen before, we asked Perron what her favorite part or amenity onsite was that agents should make sure their clients don’t miss. “This is a hard question,” she exclaimed. “I love Le Monastere from the vault to the top of the bell tower! But, I will go with our authentic room. They are the ancient sisters’ cells, restored in the spirit of monasticism. They are filled with antique furniture (but the comfy bed are definitely modern). I call them our museum-rooms. They have soul! I could also add our three daily bilingual wellness classes (meditation, yoga, tai chi, etc.).  A great way to take care of yourself while meeting with locals,” she added.

Rates for the basic Monastic Package start at $80.30 per night for single occupancy and $114.27 per night for double occupancy including accommodations, organic breakfast, and museum access. In addition, the property offers customized Holistic Health Retreats—Renewal Stay, Wellness Experience Stay, Regeneration Stay—that are available year-round. You can find out more about the various packages available here.

For more information, visit monastere.ca. Don’t miss out on this photo journey from our trip to see more from the monastery and its surrounding areas, check out “Eye on the World: Quebec City.”