What are the top recommendations for a peaceful retreat in UK's monastic sites?

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, many of us yearn for a breath of peace, a moment of tranquillity and a chance to reconnect with our inner selves. Retreats provide this opportunity, offering people a chance to unplug, relax and refocus. Within the UK, an array of monastic sites have opened their doors to the public, offering a variety of retreat experiences from mindfulness meditation to yoga, and even silent retreats. These retreat centres harbour an atmosphere of peace and spirituality that can help restore balance to a busy life. Here, we explore some of the top recommendations for a peaceful retreat in UK's monastic sites.

Experiencing a Day of Mindfulness at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery

Nestled in the serene countryside of Hertfordshire, Amaravati Buddhist Monastery offers day retreats focused on mindfulness practice. The monastery, which follows the Theravada tradition of Buddhism, provides visitors with an opportunity to explore a day of mindfulness in a supportive and peaceful environment.

The day retreat typically commences with a meditation session, followed by a talk or a workshop that delves into various aspects of mindfulness. The monastery's well-trained and experienced resident monks and nuns lead these sessions. The day concludes with a sharing circle, where participants can discuss their experiences.

Beyond the day retreat, Amaravati also offers longer retreats, including free retreats for those unable to pay, demonstrating their commitment to making mindfulness accessible to all.

Seeking Solitude at the Abbey Retreat House

For those who crave solitude and silence, the Abbey Retreat House in Oxfordshire is a perfect choice. Housed within the historic Dorchester Abbey, this retreat centre offers silent retreats which provide an opportunity for deep personal reflection.

Upon arrival, retreatants are guided through a brief orientation, setting the tone for the days ahead. Following this, silence is maintained throughout the retreat, except for necessary communication. Each day comprises periods of solitary meditation, walks in the beautiful abbey grounds, and simple, nutritious meals.

The retreat house also offers spiritual direction for those who wish for it, providing one-on-one sessions with experienced spiritual directors. This enables retreatants to explore their spiritual journey in a more focused manner.

Awakening the Body at Gaia House

Located amidst the peaceful Devon countryside, Gaia House is a renowned centre for meditation and yoga retreats. The centre offers a variety of retreats, ranging from weekend programmes to longer, intensive sessions.

The yoga retreats at Gaia House combine physical postures (asanas) with mindfulness meditation. This unique blend allows participants to connect with their bodies in a mindful, nonjudgmental fashion, fostering a sense of self-compassion and acceptance.

The meditation retreats at Gaia House draw from different Buddhist traditions, including Zen and Vipassana, offering participants a broad spectrum of practices to explore. These retreats are often led by expert teachers from around the world, ensuring that participants have access to high-quality guidance and instruction.

Spiritual Nourishment at the St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre

The St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre in North Wales offers retreats centred on Ignatian spirituality. These retreats are rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.

The centre offers a variety of retreats, from weekend sessions to the full 30-day Spiritual Exercises retreat. Regardless of the duration, each retreat provides participants with a structured framework of prayer and reflection, guided by an experienced retreat director.

The centre's stunning location, with panoramic views of the Vale of Clwyd, adds another dimension to the retreat experience. The natural beauty of the surroundings acts as an invitation to stillness and contemplation, enhancing the effectiveness of the spiritual practices undertaken during the retreat.

Discovering Stillness at the Sharpham Trust

The Sharpham Trust in Devon offers a unique blend of mindfulness and nature-based retreats. Recognising the therapeutic impact of nature, the trust's retreats are designed to foster a deeper connection with the natural world, alongside the cultivation of mindfulness.

The retreats take place in the Trust's converted barns, nestled amidst the beauty of the Sharpham Estate. The programmes include guided meditations, nature walks, silent meals, and opportunities for personal reflection. The trust also offers specific retreats for beginners, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their previous experience with mindfulness, can benefit from their programmes.

Across England and Wales, these monastic sites continue to offer retreats that foster peace, tranquility and personal growth. Despite the diversity in their practices and settings, they share a common goal – to provide a space where individuals can step away from their daily lives, and journey inwards.

Embrace Serenity at Holy Isle Centre for World Peace and Health

Experience tranquility like never before at the Holy Isle Centre for World Peace and Health. Located off the coast of Scotland, the centre is a hidden gem offering a diverse range of retreats.

The centre is renowned for its ‘Living Mindfully’ retreats, focusing on the cultivation of mindfulness and compassion. Under the guidance of experienced facilitators, participants can engage in mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, and periods of silence. The retreats are also interspersed with opportunities for self-reflection and gentle yoga sessions.

For people interested in longer stays, the centre offers a 'Living Mindfully' season from April to October. Participants can join for a week or stay for the entire season, diving deeper into their mindfulness practice.

The centre also offers free courses on mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation for school children, acknowledging the importance of early exposure to such practices.

The centre’s location adds an extra layer of tranquillity to the retreat experience. Participants can enjoy panoramic views of the sea and neighbouring islands, offering a nurturing environment for inner exploration. With free cancellation up to a few days before the retreat start, you can book your retreat at Holy Isle Centre with peace of mind.

The Restful Refuge of Worth Abbey

Set in the Sussex countryside, Worth Abbey offers retreats rooted in the Benedictine tradition. The abbey provides a serene backdrop, perfect for those seeking to deepen their spiritual journey.

Worth Abbey's retreats emphasise the importance of silence, prayer and community. The typical day during a retreat includes time for individual and communal prayer, reflection, and rest. The silence that envelops the abbey allows retreatants to tune into their inner world, fostering a deeper connection with self and the Divine.

For people interested in guided retreats, the abbey offers retreats led by the resident monastic community. These retreats incorporate talks on spiritual themes along with periods of silent reflection and prayer.

The Benedictine ethos of hospitality is deeply ingrained in the Abbey’s retreat practices. The Abbey offers free stays for those who cannot afford it, ensuring that their retreats are accessible to all. Review the details and book your stay at Worth Abbey for a rejuvenating spiritual experience. Remember, free cancellation is available for up to a few days before the retreat begins.


Retreats offer an escape from the daily grind, a chance to pause, breathe, and reconnect with ourselves. Whether it's mindfulness practice at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, silent reflection at the Abbey Retreat House, yoga at Gaia House, spiritual practices at the St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre, connecting with nature at the Sharpham Trust, or experiencing tranquility at the Holy Isle Centre for World Peace and Health, these monastic sites offer a diverse array of tranquil retreat experiences.

Booking a retreat can be a significant commitment, so free cancellation policies offered by these retreat centres are a great advantage. This ensures that you can plan your retreat with flexibility and peace of mind.

These retreat centres are more than just places of peace and tranquillity. They are also communities that foster personal growth and spiritual deepening. They welcome all, regardless of background or faith, opening their doors to anyone who seeks a moment of peace. Simply choose the retreat that aligns with your desires and needs, and embark on a journey of self-discovery and inner peace.

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