Hotel Monasterio, Peru
Hotel Monasterio, Peru
Cuzco was once the magnificent mountain capital of the Incas - until the Spanish breezed in, erecting their churches and grand colonial buildings on top of the existing Inca foundations. Today, this city high in the Andes is a picturesque maze of cobbled streets and squares and the base for the trek to Machu Picchu. The 17th-century Hotel Monasterio was originally the San Antonio Abad seminary, home to a community of Jesuit monks. Now a luxury hotel, the building has retained much of the original layout and the rooms are decorated with 16th- and 17th-century Cuzquenian paintings and murals. The oxygen supplementation system in the rooms to counteract the effects of altitude sickness is a welcome modern addition.
Hotel Monasterio, Calle Palacios 136 Plazoleta Nazarenas, Cuzco, Peru (020-8604 2242;
www.monasterio.orient-express.com). Doubles from £218.85 per night with breakfast
San Clemente Palace, Italy
The San Clemente Palace sits on its own 17-acre island in the middle of the Venetian lagoon, just a short hop by private launch from St Mark's Square. The site was first occupied by a church built around 1130 to serve as a starting point for pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. The main 17th-century buildings once housed a community of Camaldolese monks. Last year, the buildings were converted into a luxury hotel, although you can only wonder what the monks would make of the opulent interiors - a riot of silk wallpaper, marble and Murano chandeliers.
San Clemente Palace, Isola di San Clemente, Venice, Italy (00 39 041 244 5001;
www.sanclemente.thi.it). Doubles from €418 (£300) with breakfast
Pousada Nossa Senhora da Assunção, Portugal
Pousadas of Portugal added the Nossa Senhora - a 16th-century monastery - to its catalogue of restored historic buildings in 1997. Situated in a valley near Arraiolos, renowned for its Persian-style rugs and 14th-century castle, the pousada's 32 rooms are surrounded by olive trees and arranged around the two cloisters and a church. In the grounds there are now tennis courts and a swimming pool.
Pousada Nossa Senhora da Assunção, Arraiolos, Portugal (020-7616 0300;
www.keytel.co.uk). Doubles from €75 (£54) with breakfast
Parador de Cangas de Onis, Spain
In 1926, King Alfonso XIII of Spain came up with the idea of restoring Spain's palaces, fortresses, convents and monasteries by converting them into hotels. Today there are 90 of these paradors across the country, one of which is the monastery of San Pedro de Villanueva, now known as the Parador de Cangas de Onis. On the banks of the River Sella with the stunning Picos de Europa mountain range in the background, the monastery was built by the Order of San Benito in the 12th century. The building has been stylishly converted and the original chapel is still in use. Bedrooms are housed in a modern addition and connected by a walkway to the old monastery.
Parador de Cangas de Onis, Villanueva Cangas de Onis, Asturias, Spain (020-7616 0300; www.keytel.co.uk)
Doubles from £102 in autumn, £84 in winter, with breakfast
Hotel Ruze, Czech Republic
In 1584, Vilhelm of Rozmberk, a knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, invited the Jesuits to Cesky Krumlov, a Unesco World Heritage listed city. He later built them a monastery on the rocks above the river. In the late 19th century it was converted into a hotel. Following years of neglect it was sold off after the Velvet Revolution and is now a hotel once more. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a lovesick girl who jumped into the river, and who now returns to warn virgins about forbidden love.
Hotel Ruze, Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic (00 420 380 772 100;
www.hotelruze.cz). Doubles from 3,400 Czech koruny (£73) with breakfast