As the world shifts toward a more responsible future (we hope, although it’s not looking great), we’re seeing a stronger focus on repurposing what we already have. From thrift stores to reusable coffee cups, little changes are helping to make a difference.
And it’s the same in the travel world. Instead of throwing up new skyscrapers and sprawling resorts at the expense of the environment, some creative designers and architects are repurposing some of our older and most magnificent buildings, gifting them a new lease of life and an atmospheric stay for us in the process.
With church attendance at an all-time low, many of these stunning buildings around the world are prime opportunities for these projects, offering a unique canvas for the minds behind some of the best hotels in the world.
Let’s check out some of the best refurbished church stays in the world.
Hotel Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine
Location: Duero Valley, Spain
Vibe: Live like a luxury monk
The rundown: Hotel Abdadia Retuerta LaDomaine might be housed in a 12th-century abbey, but its modern-day inhabitants most definitely aren’t living like monks. Luxury is at the forefront of everything in this staggeringly beautiful Spanish hotel.
Set amongst more than 500 acres of vineyards, guests are enveloped in fine dining, high-end wellness treatments, nature-focused activities, and art. Its restaurant, housed in what was the original dining hall, boasts a Michelin star, and the hotel’s prime location makes it the perfect jumping-off point for newcomers to Spanish wine.
Location: Maastricht, Netherlands
Vibe: Funky 14th-century getaway
The rundown: Kruisherenhotel is a delight for the eyes. Its masterful repurposing lends to a unique funk-focused vibe while still celebrating its history as a 15th-century Gothic church.
Each of room has its own unique styling, celebrating anything from the church’s history to Dutch art and even 20th-century popular culture icons. It’s a true collision of eras. The central lobby/restaurant/wine bar area is the overwhelming highlight, letting the scale and architecture of the building itself sing while inserting a playful character.
JW Marriott El Convento
Location: Cusco, Peru
Vibe: South American mystic splendor
The rundown: Cusco doesn’t need much help conjuring the past; it’s the gateway to the Sacred Valley and the iconic Machu Picchu. But if you need more, the JW Marriott El Convento is the place to be. Set in a Catholic convent in the heart of the city, your first steps through the doors of El Convento are mesmerizing.
The modern guest rooms are set around the central courtyard or look out across the picturesque city, but once again, the communal spaces steal the show—atmospheric and celebratory of the building’s beauty. Oddly, but possibly more memorably, some rooms have no traditional view at all. Instead, they are walled in by the remains of the Incan temple the colonial Spaniards destroyed to build their own.
Hotel Peter and Paul
Location: New Orleans, USA
Vibe: Conversion masterclass
The rundown: The US doesn’t boast the same breadth of history found in Europe and other parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some excellent repurposing projects. Few are better than Hotel Peter and Paul in the Big Easy.
Found inside a disused church and schoolhouse, the redesign leaves every room with its own unique styling and a staggeringly beautiful function space for weddings and other events. It’s in a wonderfully quiet area, gifting some respite from the chaos of Bourbon Street and other parts of the city—a truly unique stay in New Orleans.
Fontevraud, The Hotel
Location: Loire Valley, France
Vibe: Nun-believable restoration work
The rundown: Impossibly stylish, especially in the communal spaces, Fontevraud’s centuries-old abbey is (and literally was) fit for royalty. Nestled amongst the idyllic Loire Valley, the hotel’s masterful repurposing is a wonder.
Taking nods from minimalist designers, its stripped-back look emphasizes the unmistakable monastic setting while lifting it with modern flourishes. There are fewer elegant places to base yourself for exploring the region’s wonders.
Location: London, UK
Vibe: Disused to decadent
The rundown: The Baptish Church building that now houses L’Oscar lay disused for decades, a crumbling relic of times past. But its recent rejuvenation, led by renowned Parisian decorator Jacques Garcia has transformed it into one of the most personality-fueled properties in London.
Its enviable location near Soho and the theatre district is enough of a draw, but its opulent finishes, like gold-laced wallpapering and claw-foot bathtubs, will help it live long in your memory. The downstairs lobby bar is particularly atmospheric, doused in sultry dark tones and velvets.