Urban Explorations Urban Explorations

Restaurants and Hotels Breathe New Life into Beautiful, Abandoned Churches and Monasteries

Vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows adorn these restored and reimagined structures

(Etienne C.L. van Sloun Fotograaf)

It took nearly 500 years to complete London's great Westminster Abbey as it exists today. Notre Dame de Paris was constructed over two centuries. Painstaking thought and hours of construction go into building houses of worship—meant to inspire worshipers, glorify the heavens above and last an age. But, through hard times, many fall into disrepair. Thankfully, in recent years, beautiful, forgotten churches have been blessed with new life, reincarnated as bucolic country hotels, atmospheric brewpubs, and breathtaking restaurants. Read on for reclaimed abbeys now returned to their former glory.

See more historic churches reimagined on Travel + Leisure.

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Stanbrook Abbey in Worcester, England

It hardly gets more romantic than Worcestershire's imposing Stanbrook Abbey, England's newest country house hotel. Built in 1625 as a Gothic Revival-style abbey for Benedictine nuns, the 52-room manor retains its red-brick façade, bell tower, Harry Potter-esque great hall (afternoon tea is at 4 p.m.), and landscaped gardens. Alternatively, guests can channel their inner lord (or lady) at the separate five-bedroom Georgian manor house on the grounds.


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