If you are like me, every once in a while you may feel like you need a refuge: a place where you can collect your thoughts, disconnect and rebalance. For many years, this place for me has been Quebec City. Now, thanks to this unique boutique hotel and wellness centre that is the Monastère des Augustines, refuge can be found within the calming sanctuary of a former convent right in the heart of the city!

Monastère des Augustines

Guests have a choice of contemporary rooms with private bathrooms or a more ‘authentic’ accommodation

Located on Rue des Remparts, precisely midway between Lower Town and Upper Town, the Monastère des Augustines is perfectly situated as your base to discover Quebec City should you even decide to leave the vast stone walls that shelter this hideaway. In fact, with its wonderful contemplation gardens, historical museum and wellness options (such as yoga sessions, holistic health consultation and massage offerings) you may find yourself hard-pressed to even consider leaving the grounds.

How the Monastère des Augustines decided to open its doors to the public is a fascinating story in itself. About a decade ago the Augustines Sisters, who originally arrived in Quebec from France in the mid-1600’s with a mission to offer healthcare to the recently founded New France, could see that their numbers were dwindling. Projecting a few decades into the future, these sisters could see a time when none of them would be left partly due to their advancing years but also due to changing trends where joining a religious order no longer held much appeal to younger generations. Faced with this quandary, the sisters looked for a modern solution that could perpetuate their original health mission, leave a legacy and come up with a business model that could financially sustain their objectives.

Monastère des Augustines

Contemporary rooms have
exquisitely appointed bathrooms

To achieve these lofty ambitions the sisters sought out help from local business leaders such as Evan Price, one of the proprietors of the wonderful Auberge Saint-Antoine in Lower Town. Together they came up with the vision of turning a portion of the convent into a high-end boutique hotel and wellness centre blending modern architectural touches while preserving the historic beauty of the original exterior and interiors. An incredibly successful community and corporate fundraising effort made it all possible.

One of the challenges of the project was to retain a portion of the convent to house the remaining sisters while opening up the hotel wing for a total of sixty-five impeccably renovated rooms. Today, these sisters continue their daily routines within the same footprint of hotel visitors, albeit at a distance. Their presence adds an air of tranquility to the property and will appeal to those seeking the same.

Monastère des Augustines

Yoga classes are part of an available overall
wellness experience

The rooms of the hotel generally tend to be compact, as you might imagine, since they originally housed hundreds of sisters of rather humble housing requirements. However, the renovations have retained the original features of these “cells”, as they are referred to, while at the same time adding amenities that the discerning boutique hotel guest has come to expect such as high-quality linens, light fixtures and exquisitely appointed bathrooms (for the rooms that have a private bath). Various price points exist depending on the style of the room (some with shared baths so do take note when booking your reservation).

The hotel restaurant is especially popular for breakfast

Packages at the hotel focus on the wellness and cultural offerings of this New Age institution. These include their “Culture and Heritage” package where one can explore the history of the Augustine Sisters; the “Monastic” option that allows one to stay in the heart of the Monastère in either an “authentic or contemporary” cloister; a “Renewal Stay” with the goal of “slowing down and reconnecting with yourself” or the “Wellness Experience Stay” which is closer to the spa experience you may be seeking complete with healthy meals, holistic health consultation, access to daily movement and wellness classes, a massage and tour of the museum.

Monastère des Augustines

Monastère des Augustines is well-equipped for small and medium-sized groups

You probably know people who have talked about their own informal group getaways with friends at the Monastère as a safe, protected sanctuary away from the pressures of work, family, care-giving, pandemic strife, or whatever you happen to need a break from. In fact, part of the social mission of the Monastère is to provide caregivers with an opportunity to afford a getaway and special discounts are available upon request as an enticement to these individuals.

So if you ever feel that you are at the end of your rope and are looking for a place where you can re-group and rebalance, the Monastère des Augustines could be just the elixir to sooth you! For more information and reservations, please visit: https://monastere.ca/en

Travel Planner: Quebec City is easily accessible by car (2 hours, 45 minutes) or by train or bus. Some of the regular services of the hotel may be restricted due to COVID 19 precautions. Check the hotel’s website for up-to-date information on programs. Respite to Caregivers program eligibility: Caregivers for the elderly, adults or children with disabilities or illnesses who live with and spend continuous and significant amounts of time with the person they care for so they can continue to live at home. To book a room at the Monastère through this program, please contact the hotel by telephone at 418-694-8565, ext.3351 or email at prochesaidants@monastere.ca

A.J. Twist is a Montreal based travel writer and photographer. Email: ajtwist@me.com