St Benedict did not envisage his monasteries as existing primarily for the purpose of receiving passing guests. In fact, he saw them as sanctuaries for those who wished permanently to put aside the distractions of the world and seek Christ alone. Yet St Benedict recognised the attraction monasteries held for those still in the world, and resigned himself with goodwill to making provision for guests, since “monasteries are never without them”. (Rule of St Benedict, 53:16)
History has proved him right. By their very nature monasteries played a vital role in providing safe and comfortable shelter in times when travel was time-consuming, arduous and often dangerous. The weary pilgrim, far from home, would instinctively look for shelter in the house of God. Today, life itself has become a wearying pilgrimage for many. For them a monastery offers respite from the fast-paced, stressful and often unbalanced lives they lead. Others seek to join the monks in the space they make for God to be worshipped and experienced, a space much harder now to find in the world.
The Guesthouse at Douai Abbey offers several different types of room. There are fifteen fully-ensuite rooms, four of which have been fitted to accommodate disabled guests to modern standards. All rooms can take single guests, but some can also be shared. Another seven rooms semi-ensuite (shower and sink only).
Guests normally eat in the Guest Refectory, although some guests may be asked to join the monastic community for meals. There is also a separate guest courtyard where meals may be taken in the warmer months, weather permitting. Outside meal times, the courtyard is a pleasant area to read or meditate.
While a number of groups wish to take their meals in silence, others benefit from being able to talk. Where the two different types of group coincide, they are usually seated at separate tables and are asked to be mindful of each other’s needs. The community tries to ensure complete silence in the monastery, but there may be times when some noise is unavoidable.
The kitchen is modern and well-equipped. Our small, dedicated staff produces food of high quality and can cater for a number of special dietary needs as listed on the booking form. We cannot guarantee that the ingredients supplied to us were prepared in a nut-free environment. Guests with very particular dietary needs are advised to bring their own food. If in doubt, the Guestmaster can advise you.
With the exception only of the monks’ garden, our spacious grounds are available for our guests to enjoy (including the kitchen garden and sheep meadow), and there are several easy walks through fields and woods that can be made from the monastery. Naturally, all our guests are welcome to join the monks in the abbey church for their regular services of divine worship.
**NB - All guests and visitors are expected to abide by the rules of the monastery and guesthouse, and we reserve the right to refuse anyone admission. All persons at Douai - monks, staff, and other guests - should be treated with respect at all times. From time to time minors may be staying at Douai. Please feel free to check with us and arrange an alternative date if you prefer.