Reviews

USA reviews | Australian reviews | UK reviews


USA Reviews

Wandering Educators Click here for an author interview with Trish Clark

On The Spot: Monasteries or Convents May be the Way to go.

Question: My son and I are going to London in June, and we were wondering whether you have any great ideas for budget accommodations. We were told that convents are great deals, but there is a curfew and that’s not going to work for my 27-year-old son. We could do a room in a house, an apartment for a week, a bed-and-breakfast or a little hotel.

–Patti Black, Pacific Palisades

Answer: “Budget” and “London” these days are almost mutually exclusive. One good yardstick, the U.S. government’s per diem — the allowance for federal employees traveling abroad — shows a max of $321 a day for a room and $182 for meals and incidentals. Talk about a major dent in the vacation budget.

I turned to four experts for suggestions on beating the crunch (besides home exchange, which is also an option; see previous stories.

Arthur Frommer, the guidebook author whose budget tomes are responsible for sending millions to Europe, votes for renting a room in a London home. He likes Crashpadder.com and AirBnB.com, both of which offer rooms in private residences, and Happy-homes.com, which has short- and long-term rentals.

John DiScala, founder of JohnnyJet.com, a website with a spectrum of travel resources, is a big believer in Priceline.com. “But don’t do it blindly,” he says. Instead, “use BiddingforTravel.com as a cheat sheet” or TheBiddingTraveler.com, which help remove some of the opacity from this opaque (you don’t see the name of the hotel) site.

Bob Diener, founder of Getaroom.com, says travelers shouldn’t be afraid of chain hotels such as Best Western and Holiday Inn, which tend to be nicer than their U.S. counterparts and less expensive. (I found a Comfort Inn listed for $108 a night.) Advance purchase deals — 14 to 21 days ahead — and unpublished deals on the website can be outstanding values, he says.

That convent idea? A pretty da–, uh, darned good one. Trish Clark, author of two volumes called “Good Night & God Bless,” which detail convent and monastery stays in Europe, says such lodgings are newer in Britain than on the Continent. But the British variations, she notes, include lodgings that are run and operated by the monks or nuns (example: http://www.thefriars.org.uk, which offers twin rooms from about $46 a person, including breakfast); religious guesthouses run by members of the local parish or friends of the convent (example: Bar Convent, which has twin rooms from $105 a room, including breakfast); and others run by small hospitality companies employed by a particular religious organization (example: Canterbury Cathedral Lodge which has rooms starting at $90, including breakfast). Also check out Clark’s website.

And the curfew? “Curfews [usually generous] still apply to some convent-monastery guesthouses,” Clark says, “particularly in Italy. However, best to check when making an inquiry.”

By Catharine Hamm, Travel Editor for the Los Angeles Times


If you’re expecting hair shirts and barren cells, this book will surprise you with entries describing modern guestrooms, occasional three-star-hotel-caliber amenities, and even thermal spring health spas run by sisters in Austria. Readers seeking solely spiritual sanctuary can limit themselves to the Spiritual Retreat entries. But the vast majority of lodgings are categorized as Open Houses, meaning open to tourists looking for simple but good quality accommodations at lower cost.

For those who want to see photos before booking, most if not all of the convents and monasteries either have their own web presence or are featured on travel sites. Good Night & God Bless is a good bet whether it’s your sole source of travel information or it’s a valuable starting point for those wanting to find out more online (for instance, more detailed maps). The book also offers information not easily found–or simply not found–on other websites.

The entries routinely provide information about:

  • Contemplative or spiritual destinations in the vicinity, as well as pilgrimage sites
  • Notable artworks in or near your lodging
  • Off-the-beaten-path activities such as truffle-hunting excursions, outdoor markets, and day-long cooking classes
  • Shops that feature hand-crafted goods
  • Restaurants and cafes, in the Food and Drink section accompanying each entry

What other book about monastery lodgings would tell you where to find a great beer-bath spa in the Czech Republic? Or where to find an organic buffalo farm for tasting fresh Italian buffalo mozzarella? This book’s helpful tidbits of information, too numerable to categorize here, make it well worth your while.

Book review by Moira Urich for A Nun’s Life – www.anunslife.org


Now there are a number of books on the market listing religious houses which accept paying visitors. Recently I purchased Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convent & Monastery Accommodation in Europe: Austria, Czech Republic, Italy by Trish Clark seems to be a very thorough listing of places available in the countries it covers. The book itself is a work of art, beautifully produced. The properties listed range from simple convents where a room or two are made available to expensive hotels in former monasteries. If you’re planning a trip to the countries covered, you may discover not only affordable lodgings but also unique experiences by referring to this book while making your plans. I hope the author and publisher plan to cover the other countries of western Europe in future volumes.

The Practical Tourist


Vacations seem to get more hectic all the time. Travelers depart laden with luggage, guide books, and a lengthy to-do list, and it is all too easy to return home needing a rest from the vacation.

Australian writer Trish Clark has found an antidote for this modern problem. Her new two-volume guide, Good Night & God Bless, (Hidden Spring Press) is a lovely compendium of convents and monasteries across Europe and the British Isles that offer accommodations for weary pilgrims. The first of Clark’s user-friendly guides covers Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy; the second covers France, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. Her writing is cheerful and relentlessly practical, informed by the curious eye of a good travel writer. Clark explains that the reason that this bounty of reasonably-priced accommodation exists is that the numbers of nuns and priests has fallen off, and they seek to make good use of their extraordinary historical buildings. The traveler who insists on an ample wine list and a Jacuzzi may not find much of interest here. But for others, there are amazing possibilities.

Clark’s entries on the individual sites includes history, literature, and engaging descriptions of the art onsite, as well as more practical matters, such as availability of en suite bathrooms and dining facilities and local tourist attractions. But she truly distinguishes herself with arcane lore. (How else would one know, for example, that the Benedictine Abbey of Notre-Dame de Jouarre just outside Paris has a historical connection to the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut, whose current prioress, Mother Dolores Hart, co-starred with Elvis Presley in “Where the Boys Are”?)

Clark is careful to distinguish which institutions offer open houses and which hold spiritual retreats. Open houses function in a simple “atmosphere of cordial hospitality,” while spiritual retreats invite those who seek meditation or another religious dimension to their stay. Both are amply available, but the host institutions have different requirements for booking stays. She lists which spots are child-friendly and equipped for the handicapped, which are recently renovated, and which are more spartan.

The guides are beautifully produced, with color illustrations and maps. They offer a soothing short journey in themselves. If one can’t make it to Italy this month, choose a rainy day and leaf through these pages, savoring the descriptions of Tuscan landscapes, Roman gelato, and friars singing at Vespers. Then take a deep breath, and turn to Glendalough, then Provence, then Salzburg.

The serenity just might be contagious.

Reviewed by Ann Nelson, an author, playwright, and a member of the ENY Advisory Board. Episcopal New Yorker


Next we had an incredibly interesting author from Sydney Australia, Trish Clark. Trish spells her last name incorrectly, but she more than makes up for it with an accent that leaves your ear glued to the radio. She wrote a travel guide called “Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convents and Monasteries of Europe”. Now this is something I’d never really considered before, and I probably wouldn’t if I was traveling with companions, but she explains how to travel through Europe at a low cost of lodging by staying in various monasteries and convents. The great monasteries of Europe were the epicenters of culture and learning since the Middle Ages. If you’re going through Europe on your own, in attempt to soak in as much history and culture as you possibly can, I’d certainly consider using Trish’s method.

Producer’s Corner – Peter Clarke – The Jordan Rich Show, Boston


Good Night & God Bless dropped into my hands directly from heaven on the wings of angels, or so it seemed. In it, Trish Clark gives us heavenly insider information on convent and monastery accommodations in three of the most romantic and picturesque countries in Europe: Austria, the Czech Republic, and…ah!…Italy. The actual hard information in the margins is so complete and good that it preempts questions arising from her wonderful descriptions of these remarkable lodging opportunities in the main text. The author even divides information for readers seeking spiritual retreats or those just wanting to soak up the ambiance of these sacred places.

You don’t have to be a monk to sleep in a 13th century monastery in Tuscany, with a balcony overlooking a quiet, rose-clustered cloister garden — or a nun to breakfast on coffee with steamed milk and just-out-of-the-oven pastries in a 500-year-old Austrian convent. Good Night & God Bless makes accessible fabled places that only the clergy and their friends knew about in times past. But more than that, the book educates us on the origins of these splendid institutions and the rich historical context in which they are set. Whether you are planning a trip or just wanting to travel from the couch, get hold of Good Night & God Bless and read it from cover to cover — it really is a blessing.

Joseph Dispenza

Author of The Way of the Traveler: Making Every Trip a Journey of Self-Discovery www.lifepathretreats.com


I’ve had the good fortune to have traveled in Europe and have walked by many of the places Trish Clark writes about in her book. I did not have the good fortune of having read or brought a copy of this book with me when I went. Therefore, I paid too much, stayed at less than quaint places, and missed an opportunity of a lifetime. I doubt I’ll get the opportunity to go back. Sounds like I’m suggesting you buy the book only if you plan on going to Europe and want a cheap night at some hostel, right? Wrong. This is no ordinary travelogue. Trish Clark has put together the ultimate guide book / travelogue / history / religious setting / and “must see and eat” companion any traveler might imagine or want.

Filling the 236 pages are wonderful descriptions of convents and monasteries that have opened their doors, many hundreds of years old, to travelers, offering much more than a worn-out hostel bed. She takes the reader through the convent or monastery, gives the location, phone, cost, accommodations, language, and local sights and eating establishments and in such a way as to make the reader feel as if he is packing for a flight right now. Thorough only vaguely describes Clark’s efforts. Her words and descriptions are beautiful, often putting the well known travelogues to shame. Even that is not enough. The book is beautiful, hefty, a keeper long after the traveler returns. She has even thought of a dustcover bookmark and a cloth page marker. What more could you ask for? Well done. Maybe I will go back to Italy for a short stay after all.

Chris Querry www.myshelf.com


I was sent “Good Night and God Bless” to review while I was in the midst of great chaos. My website, www.girlsgetaway.com was fast approaching its launch and there were a million and one things that needed to be done. During this time of stress Trish Clark’s book was my oasis, my port in the storm, and my escape. What working woman, mother, or wife doesn’t sometimes fantasize about escaping to a simpler way of life? This book tempts you to live the dream, at least for a short while. It’s easy to dive into this book and lose yourself in the places she describes in beautiful detail when the details of everyday life are too overwhelming. If you love ancient architecture and exotic locales as much as I do, I can’t imagine you’d find a better way to plan a trip to Europe than to look through this book. In fact, by the time I finished it, I was ready to pack up and go!

In an easy to use directory style this book informs us about the many convents and monasteries in Europe that have opened their doors to the public and are offering room and (sometimes) board. It starts off with a wonderful intro about Trish’s first stay in a convent run by nuns in Rome. She found the nuns to be very friendly and accommodating, and it was her lovely experience that led to her idea for this book. I must admit I really wouldn’t mind having her job; some of the places she writes about sound incredible. They look pretty incredible too; at the very beginning of the book, just to whet our appetites a bit, we are treated to a couple pages of really spectacular photography.

In the introduction, Clark reassures us that “… staying in a religious establishment does not necessarily mean adopting austerity. Pleasure does not necessarily go out the window the minute you look in.” In fact, being a non-practicing Catholic myself, this was my first concern upon picking up this book: would I feel welcomed at any of these places? But this concern has not been overlooked. The listed monasteries are separated into two categories: those listed as Open Houses welcome tourists (presumably tourists of all faiths or none), and those that are particularly for visitors “… seeking a spiritual experience or wishing to make a pilgrimage or retreat,” are listed (fittingly enough) as Spiritual Retreats.

The extremely well organized and well designed layout of the book make it very easy to make these distinctions; each listing is marked with a color coded banner which indicates whether it is an Open House (red) or a Spiritual Retreat (orange). In fact, the attractive layout of the book is a definite point in its favor. Travel guides are often cramped and ugly, with little consistency between pages and the most important information stuffed in some silly random corner where you’d never find it. But “Good Night and God Bless” is easy to look at and easy to use. The book is sectioned off by country, each then separated by region, and then by individual listings. Each ‘Country’ section finishes up with a list of accommodations that particularly welcome pilgrimages, and then a list of additional accommodations. Each listing always includes a handy little info column on the first page, which lists things like the address, the accommodation price, and whether it is open to all genders. This is usually followed with a description of the accommodations, information about places of interest in regions nearby, and a listing of restaurants and cafes.

For the thriftier travelers among us, the listings vary widely in price range; some of the prices are really shockingly low (and some are pretty high). The lowest price I found was Svaty Hostyn in Moravia, Czech Republic, which was listed as (I had to read it several times to make sure I’d seen it right) €9 per person (about $12 US). The highest price I found was Casa di Santa Brigada in Rome, which was listed as €100 per person (about $140 US). The average price was generally around €40 – €50 ($60 – $70 US). Volume One covers Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy, and I’m assuming (and hoping) that future volumes will cover more ground. I am absolutely positive that, before my next visit to Europe, “Good night and God Bless” will be one of the first books I pick up.

Girls Getaway www.girlsgetaway.com


The index to this guide to convents, monasteries, open houses and spiritual retreats of Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy gives one but the barest outline of the wealth of contents of Good Night & God Bless. Apart from answering the usual questions of where, what and how much, a sense of cultural and historical awareness permeates the text. Want to know where Empress Elizabeth was assassinated, where to seek out the most awe-inspiring classical music or liveliest disco, or where to buy locally grown organic fruit and herbal teas? Look no further than Good Night & God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe.

A neat pocket guide to the best alternative tourism routes through three major European countries, this logically structured work is a soothing panacea to the overwhelming plethora of travel books that pulsate off the shelves in ever increasing numbers. Presenting her work in pleasingly demarcated paragraphs, Trish Clark describes the accommodation, ranging from the relatively simple to the discretely luxurious, provided by religious houses that have found the need to become financially viable amid the increasing commercialism of the 21st century.

A brief introduction to each country and region, including a map and a few color photographs of the most distinctive sites, is followed by a few pages on each of the leading open houses. Trish describes exactly what a tourist is likely to experience while staying there. Venturing beyond a brief overview of the services and specialties provided, she explores the surroundings of each open house in turn, suggesting which places of interest, food and drink and sporting and cultural events the prospective traveler might most enjoy.

For those of a more contemplative frame of mind, Trish describes the spiritual retreats and pilgrimages that can be undertaken in Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic. She also provides the contact details for additional accommodation, so that the array of potentially spiritually uplifting accommodation is reasonably extensive.

Good Night & God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe is the ideal guide for those seeking more than the conventional tourist fare – make the most of your next trip to Europe by contemplating the contemplative and return home refreshed and spiritually restored. Volume Two of Good Night & God Bless, which covers the accommodation provided in the religious houses of France, Ireland and the United Kingdom, is due out in January 2010. Personally, I can’t wait!

Lois Henderson www.bookpleasures.com


If you’re expecting hair shirts and barren cells, this book will surprise you with entries describing modern guestrooms, occasional three-star-hotel-caliber amenities, and even thermal spring health spas run by sisters in Austria. Readers seeking solely spiritual sanctuary can limit themselves to the Spiritual Retreat entries. But the vast majority of lodgings are categorized as Open Houses, meaning open to tourists looking for simple but good quality accommodations at lower cost.

For those who want to see photos before booking, most if not all of the convents and monasteries either have their own web presence or are featured on travel sites. Good Night & God Bless is a good bet whether it’s your sole source of travel information or it’s a valuable starting point for those wanting to find out more online (for instance, more detailed maps). The book also offers information not easily found–or simply not found–on other websites. The entries routinely provide information about:

  • Contemplative or spiritual destinations in the vicinity, as well as pilgrimage sites
  • Notable artworks in or near your lodging • Off-the-beaten-path activities such as truffle-hunting excursions, outdoor markets, and day-long cooking classes
  • Shops that feature hand-crafted goods
  • Restaurants and cafes, in the Food and Drink section accompanying each entry

What other book about monastery lodgings would tell you where to find a great beer-bath spa in the Czech Republic? Or where to find an organic buffalo farm for tasting fresh Italian buffalo mozzarella? This book’s helpful tidbits of information, too numerable to categorize here, make it well worth your while.

Moira Urich for www.anunslife.org Peter can you please link

Good Night and God Bless by Trish Clark is a guide to the best monastery and convent accommodations in Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The book begins with the author’s tale of how she stumbled upon staying in a convent guesthouse in Rome when the hostel she normally stayed at was overbooked. Seeing that it was a fine place for a traveler to stay and it required no religious affiliation or attendance, she began seeking these places out.

Aside from being calm, safe and restful guesthouses, one of their standout features is their affordable cost. Can you imagine your own room near the Ponte Vecchio in Florence or the Spanish Steps in Rome for 40 Euros pp/per night with breakfast included?

One of the best parts of staying in these types of guest quarters is their authenticity, with fantastic architecture, historic locations, and caring hosts who display genuine hospitality. Each one is completely unique; some are housed in old castles while others are near important pilgrimage sites, some are full of hotel-like amenities while others are plain, small monk cells. Some also house priceless works of art that you can only see while staying there.

Clark divides the book by country and also by ‘open houses’ or ‘spiritual retreats’. Open houses are for tourists looking for unique accommodations (and the large majority of the places in the book are open houses) and spiritual retreats are just what they sound like: for those who are not on vacation but rather have a spiritual or healing goal (and most often you are expected to pursue that goal in silence).

Unlike the open houses that have set rates, with many of the places listed as spiritual retreats the daily fees are negotiated with the monks or nuns. Some of them sound like the perfect place for a time in your life when you need to re-gain your peace and serenity.

Clark explores Austria with its stunning natural beauty and points out many ‘open houses’ with spa’s, as many of the Austrian nuns and monks are trained in spa therapies to help support their spiritual homes – in the same way that many Italian monks and nuns produce wine. She then has a short section on the Czech Republic including Prague, Bohemia, and Morovia before heading on to the bulk of the book on Italy and its myriad choices from isolated hillside retreats to downtown options.

The guide is invaluable for planning a trip to monasteries and convents, as many do not advertise and may not have websites with much information. I found this out when doing web searches for monastery accommodations in southern Italy for a friend – it requires much more digging than for hotels. This book should ease the process greatly.

Christina Kay Bolton inTravel Magazine


If your definition of spiritual security means sleeping in a cardinal’s bedroom, Good Night & God Bless: A Guide to Convent & Monastery Accommodation in Europe (Hidden Spring, 978-1-58768-053-3) is the travel tome for you. In this first volume of what looks to be a superb series, Trish Clark covers Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy, of-fering copious notes, directions, and historical fodder. In fact, this project will delight readers whether they personally visit the convents, monasteries, abbeys, and Christian hotels, or choose to stay home. In her introduction, Clark notes that, “As a result of a shortage of religious personnel, coupled with the increasingly high financial overheads in maintain their ancient buildings, some religious orders have been forced to meet costs by offering tourist accommodation.” Travelers can assume the rooms will be meticulously clean and inexpensive.

Matt Sutherland ForeWord Magazine


In a world filled with lodging choices, among the most unusual are convents and monasteries, some of which even offer dining. Trish Clark’s Good Night & God Bless Volume I ($20, Paulist Press) is a 242-page paperback guide to monasteries and convents in Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy.

The guide offers details on affordable accommodations, local tourist information and places of pilgrimage, while offering travel trivia, anecdotes and historic places that host visitors. Throughout the ages, religious orders traditionally have offered hospitality as part of their ministry and a bed and a bite to eat was provided for the cost of a donation. That tradition continues in different forms as these religious institutions provide low-cost, safe and clean lodging for modern pilgrims and budget travelers.

A second book in the series covering France, Ireland and the United Kingdom is scheduled for publication on Jan. 31.

The Salt Lake Tribune


Good Night and God Bless, by Trish Clark, gives great rundowns of monasteries in Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic. Volume Two, due soon, will cover France, England and Ireland. Trish lays it out simply: history, prices, contacts, directions, nearby sights – in short, everything you need to plan your monastery stay. It’s a beautifully produced book and if you’re planning a trip to any of the countries she covers, this is essential reading.

www.women-on-the-road.com


The further I delved into Trish Clark’s beautifully researched and presented travel book Good Night and God Bless I kept thinking to myself, “Why wasn’t this book available when I visited Austria, Italy and in the ‘old days’, Czechoslovakia. Then again, as Trish point’s out in relation to the “old days”, certainly in what is now the Czech Republic, the military were probably in possession of a few monasteries at that time!

I came to Good Night and God Bless with a measure of trepidation, as though it would be all about a whole lot of Father McKenzies darning their socks in the night when nobody was there, and their Eleanor Rigbys (forgive me Beatles!), but I was totally wrong. It has a most serene and peaceful ‘feel’ to it, an attractive cover and design, and indeed on the dust-jacket, some commentators have referred to it as a traveller’s Bible. The tone of the work is set in the Forward and it is very quickly clear that Trish Clark ‘knows her religious stuff’. The research and knowledge appears meticulous and although all the sections are brief, they are full of interest and have revealing insights and snippets. The writing is in a most engaging and chatty style, with a brief but adequate city or regional introductions, followed by a detailed description of each facility, and an approximation of cost. There are also a few references to where there is access for the disabled, which, unfortunately, doesn’t feature in enough travel guides. There are some wonderful photographs and the maps are adequate for getting one’s bearings.

I found it to be a book choc-a-block full of interesting little facts and not just because there are lots of little references to ‘chocolate stops’ and places for the sweet of tooth. Did you know, for example, that the Austrian Emperor and Empress’ hearts and intestines were interred separately from them? Or that in Italy monks have a Monk Shop which sells bubble bath potions and Trappist chocolate bars or that there is a place that sells gorgonzola ice-cream? There are excellent passages on the paths of the pilgrims, should you wish to follow in their steps, and equipped with this book, you too can now find the restaurant where Graham Greene had his pasta or stay in the very place where they filmed Room With A View. There is a pithy little section on how to survive in Rome and the helpful suggestion to look for places where priests eat for the fare is likely to be good, and cheap. Mind you, well you might seek a seat at the ritzy Antica Pesa restaurant on the basis that a priest is eating there only to overhear owner Luigi say “Father, this is on the house”!

Good Night and God Bless is indeed a travel bible, compact enough for your carry-on or backpack, a most helpful reference book and guide which is easy to read, and comes with great dollops of very worthwhile information. We might previously have thought “Nun of that for me” but Trish Clark has opened up a whole new travel genre with her work and her religious pursuit of new travel options is most worthy of acclaim. (excerpt)

Winfred Peppinck: Author of A String of Pearls – The Caribbean and Beyond, The Diplomatic Dog of Barbados and Not My Country. Full review available on www.wanderingeducators.com


Good Night and God Bless, Volume One is much more than a listing of convent and monastery lodgings. It is also a fantastic resource for things to do and see near the accommodations you choose.

Description

  • Good Night and God Bless, Volume One points out the difference between convent and monastery lodgings and traditional hotels.
  • The book includes reviews of Protestant Christian hotels as well as Catholic monasteries and convents.
  • A red ribbon bookmark, reminiscent of markers in missals, comes with the book.
  • Each review includes useful information about parking, air conditioning, public transportation and worship service times.
  • The book uses British English and the metric system.
  • Trish Clark’s engaging writing style and anecdotes about each property make this book fun to read.

My husband brought Good Night and God Bless, Volume One home for me from London. I was immediately hooked on the concept and style of this helpful guidebook. Good Night and God Bless, Volume One covers convent, monastery and Christian hotel accommodations in Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy, but it is much more than a list of places to stay run by nuns and monks.

Trish Clark, the author, describes the difference between “open house” and “spiritual retreat” accommodations. The first term means that all types of travelers can stay at a particular property (although the owners may offer only single-sex lodgings); the second term means that visitors may only stay if their purpose is to make a retreat or engage in other spiritual activities. She also explains what to expect when you stay in a convent or monastery.

Although the author carefully reviews each property, don’t be fooled. Good Night and God Bless, Volume One is far more than a list of interesting places to spend a night. Each review tells a little about the order or group that runs the property and describes the special features or activities at each convent and monastery. Even more helpful are the sections on places to eat and things to see in each town. You can literally plan your whole vacation around unique religious lodgings using this book.

I do wish that the author had gone into more detail about wheelchair accessibility. I have lived in Italy and know all too well how tiny elevators and bathrooms can be, especially in older buildings. She does explain which properties claim to be accessible and which have elevators (“lifts” in British English), but if you are a wheelchair user, you will probably have to call or write ahead to find out exactly how accessible the rooms and bathrooms are. The next time I head to Europe, I’ll definitely take this book along.

Nancy Parode – About.com


We would rather be voraciously reading through Good Night & God Bless, Volume One – A Guide to Convent & Monastery Accommodation in Europe – by Trish Clark of Sydney, Australia.

Having spent a few nights ourselves sleeping under the roofs of convents and monasteries while backpacking through France, we were most excited to learn of Trish Clark’s new book. From our culturally full-filling experiences with the monks and nuns during our sojourn in France, reading Good Night & God Bless left us wanting to throw on the old backpack again and head off to the destinations and accommodations that Trish describes.

This book is well-researched and a most enjoyable read, packed chock-full of handy information for the traveller seriously planning that next jaunt to lands far-away. If you want to dream the night away inside a piece of religious history in Austria, Czech Republic or Italy, this is the guide to use. Along with details on where to sleep in accommodations that suit your style and budget (with a range from basic country-style to five-star opulence), Trish also outlines places of interest, as well as where to whet your appetite and wet your whistle. WJ can’t wait until Trish’s next volume comes out that will cover convents and monasteries in France, Ireland and England.

www.wavejourney.com/books.html


As alternatives to the usual hotels and B&Bs, monasteries and convents may be equally comfortable and convenient. The authors of these guides to such accommodations have invested a prodigious amount of research to insure that their readers find numerous possibilities for economical, educational, and possibly uplifting travel. Clark here covers three countries in her single volume providing a wealth of information about the history of a monastery or convent, in addition to details of the surrounding area for sightseers. There are practical details as to costs, amenities, contacts, and location directions. Clark offers an excellent index. Readers will be pleased to note affordable accommodations in major cities as well as facilities scattered throughout the countryside. Clark offers hundreds of locations including in Vienna and Salzburg, as well as in Prague and in Italy’s Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome. Cautions to readers are noted with each entry, e.g., some accommodations in Britain lack towels but do include breakfast. Others, in Europe, may impose a curfew or silence during meals. Advance planning to make the most of this unique type of accommodation—and to find space available at a desired time—is a must for the savvy traveler. VERDICT – highly recommended both for those new to these possibilities and for experienced travelers.

Janet Ross, excerpt from Library Journal USA.


Author Finds the Lodging Divine.

Trish Clark recently published her second volume of “Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convent & Monastery Accommodation in Europe” (Hidden Spring, $24.99). Both volumes are about traveling inexpensively by lodging at religious guesthouses; the new one covers places in France, Britain and Ireland. Clark is an Australian living in Sydney. She is originally from Toowoomba, Queensland.

Q. Your new guide is 360 pages. Are there that many – and so many remote places?

A. I cover around 550 in all; they’re spread out from Scotland to the French Riviera. Some are in terrific locations in the center of towns. Maison St-Pierre-Julien Eymard for instance, is in Paris and very near the Arc de Triomphe. It’s mid 1800s, inexpensive and is run by the Blessed Sacrament Fathers

Q. How does an average American vacationer do this?

A. It’s best to reserve your stay before you leave, especially in summer. The books provide contact information – e-mails and Websites. The lodgings are cheap, safe and clean. While not 5-star, they are quite adequate. People in Europe are usually pretty savvy about staying at them.

Q. What kind of money are we looking at?

A. I was in Nice, on the Riviera, about this time last year and paid about $50 Australian ($46.33 U.S.) per night. However, some places are quite basic. There’s one in London that’s fantastically situated – near the Gloucester Road tube station, on the Heathrow line, that’s basically a hostel. For about $30 Australian ($27.79 U.S.), you get what you pay for.

Some convents have more adequate facilities for tourists. There’s a wonderful monastery in Nice that’s on the waterfront, so guests have the same magnificent view of the bay as other more expensive hotels along the beachfront. The rooms are small but very well fitted-out – everything you could want from a five-star,  just much less grand. I spent seven days there recently, using it as a base to explore the Riviera. It’s walking distance to the famous boardwalk and near the bus stop to Monte Carlo.

Q. Who runs them, and does that affect the experience?

A. Catholic and Protestant orders. Some are not actual monasteries, but places set up by religious orders as tourist guesthouses. I just scouted a great Anglican hotel in Kent, England: a 3-star lodge attached to the Canterbury Cathedral. I can’t imagine a more well-located place to stay if you’re touring that area.

Catholic orders have been offering hospitality for centuries. The only difference is that in the old days you could turn up any time of day or night and, for a donation, get a bed and a bite to eat. Now it’s a matter of economy:  the orders need the money. Some have monasteries and convents with hundreds of empty rooms, so it’s quite smart for them to open up as accommodation.  

There are two types: Those that accept tourists and vacationing families, and others that take guests who have spiritual needs. You have to be careful when booking or I guess you could spend your entire holiday on your knees.

The spiritual guesthouses – for pilgrimages and retreats – are very pious places that certainly have rules. Those open to tourists are more like staying in someone’s house: There are unwritten rules, but no obligation to say grace or attend church services. People of all faiths and none are welcome.

Food is also interesting. Many monasteries actually have a pub, tavern or restaurant attached that’s run by the monks or nuns. The cheapest meal in Paris can be found at the Foyer de la Madeleine, run by the Benedictine Fathers; it’s attached to (the historic church) La Madeleine and is in an old underground cloister. For about $10 Australian ($9.27 U.S.), you can get a two-course meal and a glass of wine. You usually see local shopkeepers, tourists and a couple of people a little worse for wear. It’s a great place for a different sort of experience.

Q. In your new volume, what’s a place that’s prime for time-tripping?

A. The monastery of Sénanque, founded in the 12th century, is a magnificent abbey. It’s a few kilometers west of Gordes in Provence, a little hill town. This medieval Cistercian monastery hasn’t changed in centuries. The monks grow acres and acres of lavender – just follow your nose to get there – and you’re surrounded by a fragrant sea of purple.

Another is on an island, the – Île St-Honorat – off the coast of Cannes. A couple years ago the monks there had a major problem because the ferry boats from Cannes would stop at the island and passengers would come to sunbathe on the monks’ beaches – and this attracted quite a lot of nudists. The monks were quite upset by this, so they actually bought the ferry service and now have full control. The ferry has only a few set departures each day, and around 25– 30 people can fit on the boat.

On the island, the monks grow grapes, olives and various crops and make wine, liqueur and olive oil. They do all the manual work themselves; they’re almost self-sufficient.

Q. Your favorite place?

A. In France, it would be The Convent of the Dominican Sisters and the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, in the hills just behind the Riviera. In the late 1950s, the artist Henri Matisse designed, built and decorated a chapel in the convent grounds. It took four years to build and ended up being his last (some say his greatest) work. It’s amazing just to sit there and reflect. You can walk into Vence in no time, and it’s handy to St-Paul and other little towns.

There’s a story behind this, too. Matisse apparently lived in Nice and became sick there toward the end of his life. His doctor said he needed care, and ran an ad that said, “Night nurse required. Only qualification: Must be pretty.”

The girl who applied was named Monique, and Matisse got on very well with her. She was a budding artist and he taught her the tricks of the trade. But after a year, she said she wanted to become a nun.

She joined the Dominican order and ended up being posted to this convent. Matisse kept in touch with her and later moved to Vence, where they decided to build the chapel. He was a lapsed Catholic who painted nudes. So there was much controversy and the mother superior was not happy.

When he died, the mother superior feared a media circus and didn’t allow Monique, now Sister Jacques-Marie, to attend. It was one of Sister Jacques greatest regrets, I think.

There’s a 2003 documentary about this: “A Model for Matisse.” In it, Sister Jacques-Marie, now in her 80s carries a bunch of anemones – Matisse’s favorite flower – to the cemetery. She carefully places each stem and slowly bends down and kisses his grave.

The documentary goes to great lengths to note that they had a very close relationship but that was very much above board. She said he treated her like a granddaughter and she looked upon him as a grandfather.

John Bordsen – The Charlotte Observer


In June, 1970, Trish Clark arrives in Rome only to find her preferred hostel full. She is directed to a nearby convent as an alternate place to stay. This is the beginning of her journey into the creation of this book. It is one book I would recommend to someone traveling to Austria, the Czech Republic or Italy if they want to see the real people and sights of the countries.

The book is broken down into three sections, one for each country and lists the available convents and monasteries scattered throughout the area. There are brief descriptions of the accommodations, rates, phone numbers for reservations, and local historical spots. It also lists local eateries and their specialties.

In addition to the featured locales, there is a listing of other hotels in the area in case you decide on the traditional fare; Clark breaks each area into open houses, spiritual retreats and pilgrimages depending on how religious you wish you experience to be.

Just think, in Austria you can see where Adolf Hitler sold his paintings or scenes where THE THIRD MAN took place, In the Czech Republic there are still examples of Cubist architecture and the brewery where, in 1880, Emperor Franz Joseph proclaimed the brew “excellent”. In Italy, there is a hotel which was designed by Michelangelo. These are not the types of things that you may discover in other guide books.

There are also pictures, maps, an index and even a recipe to add to the value and enjoyment of this volume. Put this one on your list if you are planning a trip or know someone who is. Or, maybe just get it for yourself and create a dream or two.

Barry Hunter for http://thebaryonreview.blogspot.com


Australian Reviews

In Kairos in November 2008, I reviewed the first volume in Australian Trish Clark’s series of guides to convent and monastery accommodation in Europe: Good Night and God Bless. That first volume covered Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy.

The second volume has now been released, and should prove even more popular among Australians as it covers the popular destinations of France, the UK and Ireland. The series will be complete with a third volume – covering Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe – which is a work in progress.

The book includes convents and monasteries that simply offer accommodation and those that offer spiritual retreats. Detailed information is provided on the principal recommended sites, along with recommendation of places of interest, pilgrimage options, and food and drink suggestions. Basic details of other religious accommodation options are included.

While the first volume was published by the author herself, this volume has been picked up by a leading Catholic publisher in the US – Paulist Press, under its imprint, HiddenSpring. The new volume maintains the elegant design of the original, including several pages of colour photographs, an attractive and clear layout of the text, and a red ribbon marker. An index is also included.

Kevin Mark, KAIROS Catholic Journal, Melbourne.


This is Trish Clark’s second volume of hand-picked accommodation at establishments that really are heavenly. This time she includes convents, cathedral lodges, open houses (typically run by Catholic orders), spiritual retreats and monasteries in Britain, France and Ireland (volume one covered Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic). The emphasis is on good-value beds and places with heaps of atmosphere. There are many in France, in particular, that sound delightful, such as Maison d’Accueil Lacordaire at Vence in Provence, with views of the Mediterranean, gardens, villa ensuite rooms and access to the chapel at Lacordaire convent designed by Henri Matisse. More: www.goodnightandgodbless.com

Susan Kurosawa

The Australian – Travel and Indulgence


Trish Clark was guest speaker at ‘A Week-End in Italy’ held at the Blue Ginger Restaurant by the Italian perfumery L’Erbolario, www.primexint.com.au located in the new Noosa Evergreen Lifestyle Centre www.evergreenlifestyle.com.au


Thinking about the Abbotsford Convent — an excellent venue for literary festivals — reminded me of another new book, Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe, by Trish Clark.

Volume One, marketing itself as “the modern traveller’s bible”, is a guide to Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy. There are bishops’ bedchambers, nuns’ cells and a guide to all manner of fascinating places of religious significance, such as the Benedictine monastery of St Gerold in Austria, which has been offering hospitality for 1000 years.

The book also contains a guide to the best sights and useful information such as how to have your confession heard or get a Certificate of Papal Blessing at the Vatican. It’s a beautifully appointed publication, complete with scarlet satin book mark.

Caron Dann

Sunday Herald Sun

Tales of travellers’ trails


Have you ever slept in a bishop’s chamber or a nun’s cell (where’s Dick Emery when you need him?) or sipped wine in an abbey’s dining room? Travel writer Trish Clark reports on an unusual way to holiday in a paperback book which is described as a modern traveller’s bible. Good Night & God Bless is a guide to convent and monastery accommodation in Austria, Czech Republic and Italy. The book came to Clark about 20 years ago when, as a young traveller, she couldn’t find a bed in a youth hostel in Rome and was directed to a convent ‘up the road’. Suitable for the tourist, the pious and the curious, the user-friendly travel guide has accommodation details, local tourist information, places of pilgrimage, travel titbits and anecdotes against a fascinating backdrop of history and religion.

The Sunday Telegraph, Escape – Travel Log


The flood of travel books continues and one of the best recent arrivals is Queensland writer Trish Clark’s guide to tourism accommodation in convents, monasteries and abbeys in Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic. Called Good Night and God Bless (Rainbow Book agencies), it is the first of a series, with the next one to cover France, Ireland and the UK.

The guide is full of treasures and Clark backs the listings with good local information on things to see and do.

Mike Bingham

Sunday Tasmanian


When she was a 20 something backpacker, Trish Clark had what you could call an epiphany. Turned away from a backpackers’ hostel in Rome, she was told to try the convent for accommodation. Staying there was a happy experience and a revelation that led her to discover a whole new world for travellers of all ages. Suitable for the tourist, the pious and the curious alike, her user-friendly guide gives details on accommodation, tourist information, places of pilgrimage and history. Staying at a convent may not to be everyone’s idea of a good time, but many Australians head overseas to famous pilgrimage trails such as El Camino de Santiago in Spain. If that appeals, so might the idea of staying in a medieval monastery – with the monks. The settings are fascinating, the accommodation ranges from basic to luxurious, and the proprietors are always friendly and welcoming. The author says this form of accommodation has been a well kept secret. This first volume features Austria, Czech Republic and Italy and volume two, due out in 2009, will cover France, Ireland and the UK.

Phil Brown,

Brisbane News


Sydney writer Trish Clark has completed the perfect book for those with a passion for travel and matters ecclesiastic. Her guide to monasteries and convents in Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic makes fascinating reading, with cassocks full of interesting snippets as the cloisters and their secrets open as accommodation. Clark lists open houses of religious orders (some with fine food); spiritual retreats (quieter establishments) and pilgrimages, as well as details of places of interest nearby. In lieu of 5-star amenities, think curfews – but the hospitality is A1.

The Australian Financial Review


In this well-researched guide to convent and monastery accommodation in Europe, the author quotes Austrian priest Father Maximillian Krausgruber: ‘In an era where the church is in such dire straits, opening up the cloisters also opens up a potential bridge to people and the possibility that they will once again seek dialogue with us.’

His is a noble view, but the reality is an increasing number of religious orders are being forced to open their doors to earn enough money to survive.

Trish Clark first experienced a night in a convent while backpacking through Europe in 1970. She offers details for those who are merely looking for somewhere to sleep from €30 a night; she also caters to travellers seeking a spiritual retreat.

Rosemarie Milsom

The Sun-Herald


Billed as volume one, and covering Italy, the Czech Republic and Austria, this is a well-ordered handbook to convent and monastery accommodation by Australian traveller Trish Clark. She has a second volume planned (France, Ireland and England), which proves there must be little shortage of blessed beds. The author describes her chosen places as “unique, safe, comfortable and friendly”, and they seem budget-friendly too. Don’t be put off by the thought of serious seminary-style lodgings: many of the inclusions sound divine (in a much more secular sense), such as Villa Helios on the isle of Capri with views of the Bay of Naples, lush gardens, an orchard and a historic chapel.

Alexandra James

Weekend Australian


Being turned away from a youth hostel in Rome 30 years ago has had a profound effect on traveller Trish Clark. In her 20s and in need of somewhere to sleep, she was told to try the convent down the road. Her early religious experience has led to the publication of Good Night and God Bless, the Modern Traveller’s Bible. Described as suitable for tourists, the pious and curious alike, this first in a series of planned travel guides provides accommodation details, tourist information, places of pilgrimage, travel titbits and anecdotes against a backdrop of history and religion.

The Sunday Times, Perth


Good Night God Bless is a refreshing volume that gives an insight into accommodation options in Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy. Written by Trish Clark who was schooled in Toowoomba, the reader is taken on an unusual journey into convents, abbeys and monasteries that have been opened their doors to become religious hideaways for the weary traveller. This is a welcome variation to the more usual travel guide, and would suit the pilgrim, the tourist or those looking for a quiet retreat. Open Houses are available to the tourist while a different style of accommodation is offered to those seeking spiritual renewal. You could sleep in a bishop’s bedchamber or discover hidden art treasures!

Set with the fascinating backdrop of history, following the travel tips in Good Night God Bless will give the traveller a unique experience with the possibility of discovering spiritual treasures in the context of comfortable accommodation. Offering 5 star to country comfort, a bustling city or a delightful rural spot, some monasteries will have a curfew while others will not accept credit cards. The author has listed what you need to know. For example if you turn to Vienna you will see that Schotten Abbey is a choice, places of interest are recommended plus a guide to food and drinks in the area. Language may be a challenge at times but there are ways to overcome this barrier. Many monasteries are working farms so you may be able to help with vegetable gardens or wine making.

The cover of this volume is first class and that quality is continued throughout with maps and illustrations. Good Night God Bless is a delightful read for the intending traveller or those who ponder Europe in the arm-chair. Its 263 pages also lists addresses and phone numbers, plus an index. Highly recommended.

Rev. Barb Bailey

Queensland Uniting Church

www.journeyonline.com


Simply put, Good Night and God Bless is indispensable. Hats off to Trish Clark and her publishing team for showcasing an authentic tourism concept in an easy to read, user friendly, information-packed format. It’s the sort of travel book that you won’t want to lend to your friends.

Robin Stuart-Clark

Readers’ Forum Book Club – South Africa


Accommodation at convents and monasteries is an option that few travellers think of but is becoming more common. Not only do such religious settings provide safe and affordable accommodation options, staying there also supports religious communities that are often struggling financially in the current era.

Now a Queenslander with a professional background in the travel industry, Trish Clark, has produced Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe. The author is planning to produce three such volumes. This, the first, covers Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy.

The book itself is a very handsome production, with a much more elegant design than your average travel guide. It includes several pages of colour photographs, an attractive and clear layout of the text, and a red ribbon marker. An index is also included.

Trish Clark is currently travelling, completing research for the next volume in the series – tough work, but someone has to do it! It will cover France, England and Ireland, and is due for release in mid-2009. The third volume is expected to cover Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe.

Kevin Mark

Kairos Catholic Journal – www.kairos.com.au


Ever slept in a bishop’s bedchamber, napped in a nun’s cell or sipped holy wine in an abbey’s dining room? Suitable for the traveller, the pious and the curious alike, the travel book provides accommodation details, local tourist information, places of pilgrimage, travel tidbits and anecdotes against a fascinating backdrop of history and religion. It even details concerts and plays, plus lessons in art, cookery and music that can be enjoyed in a convent or monastery. This is the first in what promises to be a series of unique guides to alternative tourist accommodation in convents, monasteries, abbeys and Christian hotels and focuses on Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Vacations & Travel Magazine


I spoke next with Trish Clark, whose beautifully presented book offers something quite different. She writes in detail about over 200 monasteries and convents offering accommodation throughout Italy, Czech Republic and Austria. Some of these are spiritual retreats but the majority are open to any travellers. Trish writes charmingly about the attractions of the area, restaurants, historical facts and, in fact, all the traveller needs to know before making a choice. The reviews have been provided by a number of contributors, as well as Trish herself, and, in fact, Trish offers thanks to everyone from God to the Hon.Tim Fisher, Australia’s Ambassador to The Vatican! Even if you have no immediate plans to travel, this is a beautiful book just to own and to fondle … and maybe to encourage you to dream a bit!

Ann Creber

The Good Life – Radio 3MDR Melbourne


Looking for a new and novel way to travel Italy, the Czech Republic or Austria? Tired of package tours and ultra luxurious, impersonal hotels? Here, in this delightfully produced book, is a plethora of interesting places to visit and an exciting new way to find inexpensive and interesting accommodation. This volume is the first in a series of three which introduces the traveller/reader to the concept of staying in monasteries and convents while visiting Central Europe. The author has identified and located nunneries and monasteries which provide, clean, comfortable, welcoming and centrally located accommodation. Visitors of all religions or none are welcomed to each hostel; the only requirement is that respect be shown for the religious practices and peace within. Each page lists the address, type of accommodation, minimum tariff, directions, times of religious services and which gender can be accommodated. Frequently, other cultural activities hosted by the monastery/convent are described with their dates, and major cultural events in the wider community are also listed. This is a delightful and comprehensive book to read and use in planning an unusual and interesting trip, or for the armchair traveller to enjoy.

SA Life (South Australian Life)


Want to kip in a cardinal’s bedroom or cosy up in a Christian cloister? Then Trish Clark’s comprehensive guide to the convents, abbeys, monasteries and Christian hotels in Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy is the guidebook for you. This beautifully-presented and well-organised volume opens the door on religious hideaways throughout Europe that offer good-value accommodation and heartfelt hospitality to tourists and pilgrims alike. The second volume, to be published in 2009, covers France, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The books are a labour of love for Clark. On her weblog at www.goodnightandgodbless.com she says gathering the information about the convents and monasteries accepting overnight guests turned into an obsession.

The results of Clark’s obsessiveness will help others more easily find places of welcome and retreat, plus trails used by pilgrims — paths trodden for centuries. (The 140-kilometre Via Sacra, for example, is an ancient pilgrim route leading from Vienna through Austria to Styria, which passes a 12th-century Madonna and other shrines). Other less sanctified delights, including good places to eat, drink and visit are set out clearly in the book.

The website contains information about Australian retreats, photos of some of the convents and monasteries, reviews of the book and excerpts.

Good Night & God Bless is a fitting companion for the European traveller — particularly one looking for places of rest and sustenance offered by Christian hearts and hands.

Marjorie Lewis-Jones

INSIGHTS –A Magazine of the Uniting Church

www.insights.uca.org.au


Ever slept in a bishop’s bedchamber, napped in a nun’s cell or sipped holy wine in an abbey’s dining room? Trish Clark, author of an unusual new travel guide Good Night and God Bless: The Modern Traveller’s Bible offers a fabulous way to holiday. Suitable for the traveller, the pious and the curious alike, the travel book provides accommodation details, local tourist information, places of pilgrimage, travel tidbits and anecdotes against a fascinating backdrop of history and religion. Meticulously researched, Good Night and God Bless is the first in a series of unique guides to alternative accommodation in convents, monasteries, abbeys and Christian hotels in Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic. The accommodation is located in medieval palaces, fronting on to grand piazzas, in the centre of towns and cities, in countryside near vineyards and olive groves. All warmly welcome budget conscious overnight guests. Visit www.goodnightandgodbless.com for details of the book, interesting excerpts and Australian retreats and accommodation of this ilk.

Get Up And Go


Ever slept in a bishop’s bedchamber? Convents, monasteries and abbeys have always been places which generously welcomed weary travellers. That tradition continues today. Goodnight and God Bless takes you on a tour of religious hideaways offering tourist and pilgrimage accommodation throughout Europe. Volume 1 covers Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy. Goodnight and God Bless is available from the Catholic Bookshop Braddon; cost $29.95. Author Trish Clark was born in Brisbane and is the owner of a successful travel marketing business. Watch out for the second volume which covers France, Ireland and England.

Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn e-newsletter


UK Reviews

If you are thinking of pursuing a pilgrimage, making a retreat or simply looking for a different place to stay on holiday, Good Night and God Bless Vol II offers a unique guide to accommodation in convents, monasteries, abbeys and Christian hotels in the UK, Ireland and France.  Written and researched by Trish Clark, it’s a travel book that puts the ‘holy’ back into holiday.

Woman Alive, UK


Guardian logo Click here to read Ian Belcher’s article in The Guardian Travel Magazine Get Me To A Nunnery

 

Pray – for an untroubled sleep as you put your trust in Good Night and God Bless Volume II. Following the success of its predecessor (which included such holy European sights as a spa run by nuns in Austria, and a beer garden in an Italian monastery), this new book by Trish Clark links the best spiritual retreats across France, England and Ireland. Pack your cassock. Out February.

Sunday Times Travel Magazine


The Cistercian sisters at the Marienkron Abbey in Burgenland, Austria, once bred chickens on their farm until they lighted on a more lucrative project. Taking advantage of their location in the the thermal spa region of Austria, they took out a bank loan, learned healing therapies and converted their farm into a health complex.

The enterprising nuns are just one community featured in Good Night and God Bless by Trish Clark, that lists convents and monasteries which includes hotels and guesthouses.

Several Austrian religious houses have gone down the health-spa route, offering what is described as a holistic regenerating cure for the body, soul and spirit, based on the Kneipp philosophy. There is even a chain owned and operated by the sisters of Marienschwestern vom Karmel, whose services includes facials and treatment for cellulite.

In Italy, one of the lovliest religious houses is the Casa di Santa Brigida in Piazza Farnese in Rome. The Brigittine Sisters invite guests to join them for daily Mass in the chapel next door, adorned with paintings and frescoes.

Religious houses do have rules, however, and they apply to even the most exalted guests. The Books relates that the Sacristan of the Convento Sant’Agostino, run by Augustinians in San Gimignano, Tuscany, once turned away the Prince of Wales when he arrived late. It was apparently the monastery’s scheduled afternoon closing time and dinner time for the friars.

The Tablet

cartoon01 Cartoon courtesy The Tablet


Trish Clark’s first volume of GOOD NIGHT & GOD BLESS (2009), introduced a whole new generation to convent and monastery travel in Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy and became an instant bestseller. It was awarded Best Book of the Year by the USA Book News and is now published worldwide.

Now her second volume, released in UK June 1 2010, taps into some of the best-kept secrets of the extensive network of affordable and hospitable accommodation in superb settings that stretch from Paris to London, Dublin and beyond.

Trish reveals the locations of beautiful rural monasteries and convents built on idyllic islands, lakefront foreshores or on sprawling country estates. Some of these house precious works of art, rare books and exquisite pieces of handcrafted furniture. Others offer unique musical, epicurean and spiritual experiences.

GOOD NIGHT & GOD BLESS Volume 2 introduces: • abbeys where visitors can experience and listen to Gregorian chants (Abbaye Ste-Cecile in Solesmes); where to eat in a Michelin-starred restaurant (Abbaye de La Bussieres in Burgundy) • the location of the oldest still operating convent in England (Yorkshire); • one of Ireland’s best-kept accommodation secrets (an ancient Irish seminary in Maynooth on the outskirts of Dublin); and one of the most stunning spiritual refuges (an abbey high in the French alps).

Christian Bits, Haselmere UK


A Drogheda convent has been recommended in a reputable international travel guide for Christian places to stay.

The Siena convent features in Good night and God Bless, written by Australian Trish Clark. Ms Clark first got the idea for the book when she was travelling to Rome on a budget and on finding hostels all full, stayed in a convent instead.

She found the experience to be fun and decided to write a guide to atmospheric and affordable accommodation in convents, monasteries, abbeys and other religious-run establishments around Europe.

The accommodation in the Drogheda convent is offered in a small retreat house and a newly refurbished self-catering guest area, which is open only to women tourists.

“The book is aimed at tourists and travellers seeking a unique experience as well as those pursuing a pilgrimage or religious retreat,” Ms Clark explained

The Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena have been in Drogheda since 1722 when an Irish-born nun was sent from Brussels to establish a branch of the order in Ireland. At one stage and to survive oppressive anti-Catholic laws and prejudice, members of the order were forced to abandon their garb for secular dress for safety reasons and the head of the order is reputed to have been interviewed by an official.

The convent has recently renovated its retreat house, which is self-catering, with a fully equipped kitchen.

There are four ensuite rooms, two of which have individual kitchenettes for those who wish to avail of a retreat in complete silence and solitude.

All rooms have access to internet and bed linen and towels are provided.

If they wish, guests can partake of the community’s religious services and may join the nuns for Mass, Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharistic Adoration. 

Fintan Deere, Catholic Ireland News


Good Night and God Bless is one of the most original and delightful guidebooks we have ever read. This first volume (one of three) covers convent and monastery accommodation in Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy. Author, Trish Clark, reveals that many religious orders offer quality, safe and inexpensive guest rooms in unexpected locations such as convents, medieval palaces, abbeys, beside vineyards and olive groves in the countryside and in busy city centres. She discovers Christian hotels with spa facilities and nuns running Kneipp health spas in Austria, as well as thermal springs and ancient pilgrim trails.

Written in a friendly, easy to read style, GOOD NIGHT & GOD BLESS includes maps, colour illustrations and useful details for travellers/spa goers seeking to experience this unusual and welcoming hospitality. We can’t wait for volume two to be published in 2010, which will cover convents and monasteries France, Ireland and the UK.

SPA Wellbeing Magazine


Good Night and God Bless Volume 1, by Trish Clark, is such a great idea!

Beautifully-produced, it is the first in a series of guides to convent and monastery accommodation for tourists and pilgrims travelling in Europe. It offers details of hundreds of places to stay, along with reviews, directions, information about pilgrimage sites and tourist activities as well as some very entertaining anecdotes.

There is advice on how to find the former Cardinal Ratzinger’s favourite restaurant; details of ancient monasteries in the Czech Republic which are being re-claimed by the religious orders which established them and slowly being returned to their former glory; a string of health spas run by Austrian nuns; information about concerts and plays, lessons in art, cookery and music – all of which can be enjoyed in a convent or monastery.

These accommodations are located in diverse places ¬ in medieval palaces, fronting onto grand piazzas, in the centre of bustling towns and cities, in lush countryside surrounded by lavender fields, vineyards and olive groves. But all warmly welcome overnight guests. And all are ideal for people on a budget.

Independent Catholic News


The first in a series of travel books for convent and monastery accommodation for tourists and pilgrims travelling in Europe. This is a very well produced book, which fills a significant gap in the market, and will help to open doors of experience for travellers of any age. Well researched, friendly and informative it is an invaluable aid to those wanting to experience spiritual hospitality and have fun whilst doing so.

The Coracle


Save pennies and have a unique experience on the road with Good Night And God Bless, guide to accommodation at European monasteries. Suitable for the pious and the curious alike, it has accommodation details, local information, places of pilgrimage, travel titbits and anecdotes, which will have you napping in a nun’s cell or having a kip with the clergy in no time.

TNT Magazine


‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page,’ said St Augustine, as he is quoted by Trisha Clark in this meticulously researched book. Here she entices us to tast the delights of Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy where accommodation of choice is in monasteries, abbeys and Christian hotels. Imagine bedding down for the night in a former nun’s cell! In the Czech Republic, former owners of religious buildingas are funding restoration projects by taking in paying guests. In Austria, it is possible to relax and recuperate at monastery health spas, where body, mind and spirit are catered for. Some nuns are trained to give beauty treatments. If visiting Rome or Florence, it seems sensible to investigate such establishments for their proximity to the sights. Local attractions, art and music festivals are highlighted. She differentiates between Open Houses providing hospitality to tourists and Spiritual Retreats offering religious guidance.

Magnet Magazine