7 Feb, 2024 @ 10:59
1 min read

Prayer-bnb: How nuns are turning their convent into a holiday rental in the tourism capital of Spain’s Andalucia

WITH their traditional pastry business scuppered by the cost of living crisis, a community of cloistered nuns in Sevilla have had to take drastic measures to survive.

Described as the ‘perfect location to relax in the heart of the city’, the nuns are now offering stays within their convent through the popular holiday rental site, Airbnb. 

Credit: Airbnb

The secluded nuns, from the Order of Saint Clare, have opened four flats which can each be rented for between €90 and €180 for a minimum two-night stay.

Only one member of the convent, Sister Ines, maintains contact with the outside world, using a revolving hatch through which their famous pastries are sold.

But with a falling number of vocations and climbing inflation, the nuns have turned to the rental market to top up the coffers.

Credit: Airbnb

The flats, located within the 16th-century walls of the convent, are managed by Javier Bernal and Luis Bidon, who successfully negotiated a one-year agreement with the nuns after passing them a message through an intermediary pastry-buyer. 

Sister Maria Jose told Spanish daily El Pais over the phone: “We didn’t want to get involved in running the apartments directly because that’s not our life, it gives us income to live on, but we don’t want it be to the detriment of our vocation and therefore we have entrusted the management”.

The bells of the convent ring to announce when a paying guest arrives, more often than not a foreign tourist, according to Bernal.

Credit: Airbnb

Nowadays, the community consists of 18 nuns, with the Bishop of Sevilla recently advising the city’s 34 convents to diversify their income streams, for example through setting up a company or registering as self-employed.

The convent was founded in 1502, the height of Sevilla’s thriving Golden Age, by Alvaro de Portugal, a cousin of Isabella the Catholic, the Queen of Castilla y Leon.

At the time Sevilla was an epicentre of trade with the Americas, with images and altarpieces within the convent attributed to Baroque virtuosos Juan de Mesa, Pedro Roldan and La Roldana. 

Credit: Airbnb

One of the flats currently has a rating of 4.86/5, with past guests complimentary of the location, cleanliness and architecture.


Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to ben@theolivepress.es

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