Kruisherenhotel, when design jumps in
Amid the centre of Maastricht, about 120 miles from Amsterdam, you will stay in the renovated “Crutched Friars” monastery, dating back to the 15th century, now housing the Kruisherenhotel. Designer Henk Vos surprises visitors by giving the establishment a contemporary look, while the beautiful lighting conceived by Ingo Maurer sublimates the original spiritual atmosphere.
60 bedrooms and suites are spread within the cloister. Bearing a minimalist overtone, they will strike you with calm and serenity while offering the most modern comfort. They are also decorated with a few works of art and pieces of furniture by Philippe Starck. Visit the nave, where you'll find meeting rooms, a library and three private rooms. As for dinner, take a seat in the large mezzanine located in a former church. There, you will enjoy the magnificence of the stained-glass windows and period ceilings, as well as an after-dinner stroll in the atrium.
6211 NW Maastricht
Rooms: from 189 EUR
Sōzō, the hotel hidden by a chapel
This authentic 19th century chapel was the former temple of the Daughters of Wisdom catholic organisation and it offers a fair share of surprises to oncoming visitors. From the outside, it is hard to imagine that the façade – which was listed as Cultural Heritage by the city of Nantes – has been housing a luxury hotel since 2012. As you cross the threshold, you find yourself in the old choir, turned into chic lobby. Admire the Ron Arad decoration, bringing out the best of the interior architecture and the period stone walls.
The 24 rooms all show a sense of detail, with particular elements – be it slender pilasters or chiselled vaults – reminding you that you're about to sleep in a former chapel. Works of art are to be found on the walls of your suite, also enriched by pieces of furniture especially conceived by the greatest international designers. In the morning, wake up to the soft light piercing through the stained-glass windows. Among Sōzō's most prestigious suites, you'll have a choice of sleeping next to the church vaults, or above the choir in the chapel.
16, rue Frédéric Cailliaud
Rooms: from 127 EUR
Ring the bell of L'Iglesia
Passing through the old Portuguese city of El Jadida, 56 miles from Casablanca, you'll stay within the limits of old town circled by ramparts. After three years of renovation work in 2012, L'Iglesia hotel took up residence in a 19th century Spanish church. Next to the church stands the former American consulate, also integrated into the hotel area – 14 rooms altogether, soberly decorated.
A welcoming cocktail will be waiting for you in the nave, adorned with 1930-40s items and furniture. Candelabras match the architecture, which has been kept as is (same goes for the bell, unusually installed amidst the patio). Gaze at the stained-glass windows, the ceiling height and the original vaults. A bar and a sun lounge await you on the roof. Just imagine basking in an old-style tub while enjoying unobstructed views onto the port and ocean.
Église Espagnole Saint-Antoine de Padoue
24000 El Jadida
Rooms: from 1,500 MAD
When periods mix at Saint-Merry
Not far from the Pompidou Centre in the Marais neighbourhood, the Saint-Merry Hotel takes residence in the former presbytery of the Saint Merry Church, built in the 17th century and modernised over the ages. You will stay in one of the 12 rooms displaying Neo-gothic furniture (early 19th century), with sculpted tables and chairs enhancing the Medieval nature of the premises. The church's flying buttresses even go through one of the suites, giving incomparable depth and almost mythical touches to your sleep. The wood and wrought iron dark tones match in creating an atmosphere at once austere and sumptuous. From stones to woodwork, exposed beams and ironwork chandeliers, everything contributes to a radical change of scenery. Take time to admire the numerous works of art displayed on the hotel walls and visit the small belfry, housing the oldest bell in Paris.
78, rue de la Verrerie
Rooms: from 180 EUR
Ostello del Bigallo, a former monks' inn
In the 13th century, the building named “Spedale del Bigallo”, at once hospital and inn, offered hospitality to fellow travellers and pilgrims crossing over hills and olive groves, a dozen miles south of Florence. Now renovated and renamed “Ostello del Bigallo”, it still retains its original purpose, welcoming Florentines and foreigners for a night. With its typical decoration, the inn offers you to stay in either a room of Renaissance overtones, or in a dormitory, where you can experience community life.
To rest for a night or two, you can also book a cubicle, just like monks traditionally did, sleeping in these little wooden boxes. Visit the old chapel and the kitchen, displaying exposed beams, stone sinks and an immense fireplace used by nuns. Finally, recharge your batteries in garden of Tuscany overtones and bask in the sun on the panoramic terrace.
Ostello del Bigallo
Via del Bigallo e Apparita 14
Bagno a Ripoli
50012 Il Bigallo
Bed: from 18 EUR