Relax at a Monastery

New Clairvaux Abbey

Abbey of New Clairvaux | Photo Source:

Thinking about what it’d be like to really unwind—no cell phone, no Wi-Fi, no flatscreen TV? For your next vacation, go Zen with a monastery stay. You don’t have to take a vow of poverty—many are deluxe—and the personal gains can be immense. Lauren Lyons Cole reveled in her stay at a Japanese monastery.

The biggest surprise—aside from the mat in lieu of a bed? The hospitality, she says. “I’m not a Buddhist, and I wasn’t sure I’d feel comfortable,” Lyons Cole says. “But they were excited to have me—they even brought me a huge platter of food as a ‘welcome snack.’”

You don’t have to hop the Pacific to escape the fray. Stateside cloisters include sprawling Buddhist monasteries with guided retreats (like Colorado’s Shambhala Mountain Center) and peaceful Benedictine abbeys—like the Abbey of New Clairvauxin California, which even has its own vineyard.

Most monasteries accept any visitor, regardless of religious belief. Just expect to respect the way of life (hint: read the retreat guidelines carefully).

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Explore more monastery retreats—in the U.S. and abroad—with this short guide from


Hush. What’s the most peaceful vacation you’ve ever taken?

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