Cheap Sleeps in the Kennebunks

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You don’t have to be religious to book a room at the Franciscan Guest House. An easy walk to Lower Village and Dock Square (avoid parking hassles), the guest house, located on the grounds of the riverfront Franciscan Monastery, provides simple accommodations, with a few frills.

The guest house is located in a renovated former Catholic high school and outbuildings. While some stay here for religious reasons, guests of any faith are welcome.

I paid $69 for a room with a single queen bed, and that rate includes a full buffet breakfast, with dozens of breads and pastries, two hot entrees, cereals, fresh fruit, meats and cheeses. The room: vintage 1970s decor, with blond fake paneling, brown carpeting, synthetic patterned bed spreads, not-so-great art, TV, pine desk and bureau, full bathroom. All spotless, with a tinge of antiseptic aroma. Also available are a rec room, an outdoor pool, free wifi, and two computers available to guests. But hey, who needs fancy with this location.

The monastery was founded by Lithuanisan Franciscans, who fled war-torn Europe in 1947 and purchased the Tudor Great House and estate, originally landscaped by the Frederick Law Olmstead firm. Monks still reside in the mansion, which isn’t open to the public except for a seasonal gift shop and a modern chapel, attached.

A sneak peek toward Kennebunkport's Dock Square from the Franciscan Monastery grounds.
A sneak peek toward Kennebunkport

The monastery’s 66 mostly wooded, riverfront acres are open to the public (no pets), providing a wonderful escape from the nearby hubbub. Paved, wheelchair- and stroller-accessible trails lace the grounds, which are peppered with shrines and an outdoor chapel. Don’t miss the eye-catching, recently restored, modern sculpture, created by Vytautas Jonynas for the Vatican Pavilion during the 1964-1965 Worlds Fair. A guide to the shrines is available in the gift shop or the Guest House for 50 cents B&W or $1.50 color.

This is an inexpensive place to stay, a great value with a wonderful place to walk or meditate. Another plus for guests, it’s an easy and pleasant walk (past the oh-so-haute White Barn Inn) to Gooch’s Beach.