What was once a Quebec City monastery, is now a must-visit wellness retreat.
Most of us plan getaways with one intention: to renew ourselves. But between layovers, navigating streets with our eyes glued to Google Maps, and in-room HBO (why yes, I’d love to re-watch Big Little Lies), we find our much-needed escape has, instead, escaped us. Enter: Le Monastère des Augustines, a historical retreat that’s known for its unique approach to wellness.
We’ll make the history lesson quick: In 1639, three Augustinian nuns travelled to Quebec City to open the first hospital in the new world north of Mexico. For centuries, generations of nuns did amazing work as nurses, residing in the adjoining monastery. Now, with a declining population, the Augustinian nuns have decided to continue their legacy by opening the space to the public as a wellness retreat and hotel. Located in the historic wings of the monastery, the newly renovated Monastère des Augustines gives renewed purpose to this heritage property.
Whether you opt to stay in the quaint (and seriously cozy) traditional nurse’s quarters or the simple-yet-modern guest rooms, the nurturing mood of the monastery is palpable. Adding to the wellness vibes, unplugging in this hotel is easy — the rooms have no phones or televisions and the winding halls are full of artefacts and paintings that beg you to linger. You can visit the museum, which houses everything from ancient apothecary items and battlefield surgical tools to handwritten letters.
Expect a variety of wellness activities
Get into the right headspace by beginning your day with a 90-minute morning meditation. Looking to work up a bit of a sweat? Opt for a yoga class with one of their skilled instructors, who will move you through your practice in both English and French. If your class takes place in the cellar, you’ll likely be fixing your eyes on little pieces of history, like cannonballs that were shot into the building during the conquest war of 1759, while you try to hold your crow pose.
Enjoy a local, organic menu
Fuel up on local, organic food by eating breakfast on-site. The menu varies since it’s centred on seasonal ingredients, but it always serves up an abundance of raw and vegetarian dishes. Load up on a buffet-style breakfast, but shh, the monastery encourages guests to nosh in silence. Why? Traditionally, the Augustinian nuns partook in a breakfast sans chatter to mentally prepare for a day of service. We’ll wager that silently sipping your morning java is a practice you’ll take home with you.
While the monastery is full of activities (aromatherapy and reflexology are also on the roster), we’ll admit that it’s hard to stay cooped up when you’re in the heart of breathtaking Quebec City. So, in the name of compromise, opt to use the centrally-located Monastère as base camp for your daily adventures. (Check out our guide to Quebec City for all the must-sees!) Days of exploration, followed by nights and mornings of quiet contemplation? Amen.