In the old days, contemplative folk hid away in convents, monasteries, nunneries and other sequestered sacred boltholes to meditate on the meaning of life. Fortunately, you already know the meaning of life: each other. You’re in love, and nothing else matters. But, just because you’ve got it figured out, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge your conjoined souls in a honeymoon with spiritual undertones. At the very least, you can pamper one another in former holy places, now repurposed as charming hotels. With gravitas and soul, these historic hotels bring the blessings of centuries.
The Mustard Seed, County Limerick, Ireland
Known for its castles (King John’s and Bunratty to name two), its bustling eponymous city full of museums, eateries, bars, and tiny villages set amid bucolic meadows, County Limerick lies central to many of Ireland’s top sites. The Mustard Seed is a charming country house hotel, formerly a 19th-century convent, which sits amid an orchard just ten minutes from the artsy village of Adare. Constructed in 1885 by the local parish priest who sold the building to the nuns for only one penny, the elegant 18-room haven draws epicureans from across Ireland to its restaurant. Opt for one of the Deluxe Rooms for their views of the countryside and their aura of an 1884 Victorian country house.
Four Seasons Milan (Milan) and San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel (Sicily)
Once an elaborate Renaissance cloister, complete with interior gardens, the Four Seasons Milan sheltered the dutiful 15th-century nuns of St. Clare. Today, their austerity might be forgotten, amid the buzz of Montenapo, Milan’s rectangle of couture and fashion that is a mere stone’s throw away. The sisters’ tranquil spirit remains in the sensitively restored hotel, an urban haven amid the buzz. Choose the Fresco Suite, for its refurbished hand-painted walls, or the three-level Cloister Suite with its vaulted ceilings. Further afield, across the sea in Sicily, San Domenico Palace, constructed on the site of 14th century Dominican convent lords over views of stunning Mount Etna and the cobalt waters of the Ionian Sea. Newly opened, the historic hotel evokes the intimate ambiance of staying in a home. Choose the Royal Suite, for its grand rooms, plunge pool and terrace with grand views.
Pousada Mosteiro Do Crato, Portalegre, Portugal
Portugal’s medieval past comes alive at this luxury hideaway, built during the 14th-century. Once the headquarters of the Knight Hospitaller, its storied rose-colored walls have seen it all: a Renaissance convent, a gothic church and a splendorous manor house. It remains one of Portugal’s most peerless examples Gothic architecture. Enjoy the Master Suite, a stone-walled room, complete with fireplace, storybook balcony and canopy bed. In the Alentejo region, steps from the Spanish border, enjoy wine tasting, hiking and textile shopping.
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco , Cusco, Peru
Tucked into the Peruvian Andes, the high altitude city of Cusco, once the capital of the ancient Inca Empire, and a realm of Spanish colonial architecture, is considered the gateway to the peripatetic honeymooner’s bucket list destination: Machu Picchu. Stay a few days to explore its fascinating offerings at JW Marriott El Convento, erected on the site of 16th-century San Agustin Convent, situated amid the historically protected area of the city. With its walls, a bygone world has been preserved with artifacts and extant features aplenty—many re-installed in exhibition rooms or reused as part of the design. Sleep in the romantic Imperial Suite, awash in Peruvian details.