4 Former Convents That are Now Modern Sanctuaries

History looms large at these former convents reborn as luxurious modern sanctuaries.

Inside the former neo-Romanesque chapel at The Jaffa in Tel Aviv.

1. The Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel
This 120-room refuge in the Mediterranean port town of Jaffa occupies a 1880s convent and hospital built for the nuns of the Sisterhood of St. Joseph, a French order. Local architect Ramy Gill was responsible for its restoration, while the ultra-minimalist interiors and a sympathetic new wing are the work of acclaimed British designer John Pawson. Don’t miss the decommissioned chapel, whose vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows now set the scene for a swanky bar and lounge. Doubles from US$741.

Photo: Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, Colombia

2. Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, Colombia
The setting for Gabriel García Márquez’s 1994 novella Of Love and Other Demons, this gem overlooks the Caribbean from the Old Town of Cartagena. History buffs have much to discover in its cloistered central patio and original details like confessionals and religious paintings. The refectory where Clarist nuns once dined is now Restaurant 1621, a hot spot known for its French fare made with New World ingredients. Doubles from US$279.

Photo: August

3. August, Belgium
Celebrated Belgian architect and interior designer Vincent Van Duysen has brought his signature pared-down aesthetic to one of Antwerp’s most exciting new hotels, which unites a 19th-century abode for Augustinian nuns with several heritage-listed townhouses. Inside, there’s a clubby lounge set within a chapel, an indulgent spa, and a brasserie boasting a seasonal menu by chef Nick Bril of The Jane, a nearby two-Michelin-starred restaurant. Doubles from US$170.

Photo: JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

4. JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, Peru
A careful six-year revamp has seen a 16th-century convent updated to become the hotel of choice for visitors to the high-altitude destination of Cusco. Aside from showcasing a roster of contemporary local artists, the JW Marriott features an archaeological site with Inca stonework and ceramics, as well as the largest Spanish-colonial courtyard in town. Pirqa, the property’s fine-dining venue, is worth a stop for its organic Andean specialties. Doubles from US$249.

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2019 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Habit Forming”).

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