So the last time my husband and I went on a short break was last year, when I was still pregnant with George. And the time before that? I can’t even remember. We are definitely not the type of persons to fly to the other side of the world and leave the kids behind. No offence (sometimes I actually am a bit jealous of people that just do that, but we simply love having them around and I am way too much of a chicken to feel relaxed when I know it will take me more than a day to get back home should there be an emergency), but we just don’t feel comfortable.
Anyways, we could definitely use some ‘us’ time, so when our very dear friends in Maastricht invited us to come and visit TEFAF (The European Fine Arts Fair) we could not resist.
Well, we were only coming from Amsterdam, so that meant we could either go by car or by train. We decided to go by car as we did not know what time we wanted to head back home again, and you never know whether you bump into stuff you want to buy, in which case a car is more convenient as well. Luckily, the B&B I chose offered a reduced parking price so that helped quite a bit too.
Where to stay:
As we decided very last minute, we did not have much of a choice, since TEFAF is extremely popular so basically every hotel in the city was fully booked. Besides that, we also wanted to stay in a hotel close to our friends, as we had made plans for dinner and walking to their home would be nice. So after some research we made reservations at Boutique Hotel Sint Jacob as it was exactly in the neighborhood we preferred, and the available room was not too pricey. Upon arrival we had some minor hiccups with regards to a leakage in the original room, but the lady at the desk was really helpful so that was settled quite easily. Again, we did not have much choice since all hotels were booked, but there are many hotels to choose from; it just depends on what you are looking for. Some beautiful hotels are located quite far from the city center, but if you are looking for peace and quiet and nice walks, this would be an excellent choice. Others are more hip and happening, both in and out of the city center, and offer a restaurant as well. Below you will find a list of hotels I have either looked or stayed at previously- all very much worth checking out!
Chateau St Gerlach – Beautiful, expensive hotel with splendid views of the countryside and a beautiful courtyard. They offer both apartments (The Rolling Stones stayed at one!) and rooms and their restaurant is really good. In a way it is a bit old fashioned, but very charmingly so. Try to go there during summer as the orchard is in full bloom and you are allowed to pick cherries, apples, apricots… Perfect place to stay for a recharge, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Kruisherenhotel – Expensive, luxurious hotel situated in an old church, right in the hart od Maastricht. They offer unique design rooms, and the mix between this historic location and the modern rooms is fascinating. Drinks are served in the wine cellar or cool lounge, and during the summer they have their own courtyard.
Beaumont Hotel – Beautiful hotel located in a great area of Maastricht, Wyck. The Brasserie is really nice and you can wander through the narrow cobblestoned streets for hours without getting bored.
La Bergere Hotel
Boutique Hotel Grote Gracht
What to pack:
Just your own suitcase! That should be easy… But should you have forgotten what that’s like- due to all the family packing for your longer holidays:
-comfortable shoes for your strolls
-depending on the weather: a scarf for chilly afternoons, a raincoat (welcome to Holland…) and maybe a nice cap
-nice outfit(s) for dinner; people in Maastricht tend to dress pretty nicely for dinner, of course depending on the type of restaurant you choose. Even us Dutchies get a foreign, holiday vibe while being in Maastricht, so I always want to look a bit sophisticated. Please note that most streets are cobblestoned, so think about that while packing your stilettos!
What to do:
Well, as our friends live in Maastricht, we wanted to spend time with them, both during the day and at night. But we also wanted to catch up on sleep and just some us-time, so we mainly focussed on sleeping late, having long lunches and taking strolls through the beautiful city.
The day we arrived we left our luggage at the hotel, quickly changed and went for drinks and dinner at Beluga, a wellknown restaurant that has not one, but two Michelin stars. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the fact that I could get dressed in total peace and quiet, without having to remove my heels to tiptoe around the room or re-apply my lipstick a dozen times because Alba wanted me to kiss her so she wore lipstick too… The ten minute walk was really nice as you cross the river via a large bridge; the views of the city are amazing!
We started with drinks in the lounge to celebrate our temporary freedom and were brought to our table after a short while.
To be honest, I wasn’t really impressed by the dishes. Too much food, too many courses and not my kind of wines… So that was quite a disappointment. But the ambiance is really nice, not too fancy nor stiff, and we had a supernice evening, just catching up on, well, being married!
The next day we slept late, for the first time in months.. pure bliss.
We had a coffee at a nice place next door, Joost & Maartje. I love those places where you can both have coffee and shop at the same time. We wanted to go and have lunch at the Brasserie Alfred but decided to go somewhere else, as we had been there before and it’s always nice to try new things, right? So we went to this really nice place called “O”, where they mainly serve fish (hence the name…), and enjoyed a long, lazy lunch with lots of fish and wine. Great restaurant!
Afterwards we just strolled through this part of the city and did some minor shopping for the kids in a cute store (The Heppie Store) as we could not return home without some presents.
Dinner was at our friends’ home so I cannot tip you on more restaurants this time, but we had so much fun just catching up and being able to fully focus on each other instead of having to watch the kids all the time. We drank some wonderful Australian wines while reminiscing our great stay in Australia (see ‘Australia‘ to read more!) and went to bed way too late.
On Sunday we had coffee at Joost&Maartje again (never change a winning horse, right?) and went to take a look at all the art at the TEFAF. I must admit I always get a bit overwhelmed when visiting such a huge exhibition, I mean: where to start? What to see? But it was beautifully set up and decorated so we just wandered around and ended up having a glass of wine and some oysters at the wine bar…Oops!
After that we wanted to get home to see the kids (I know, but really!) so we kissed Maastricht goodbye and drove home. Just in time for dinner!
Maastricht on a whole:
As far as I am concerned, Maastricht is a lovely place to visit, be it spring, summer, fall or winter. It has such charm and a great, international vibe. The architecture is amazing and the many small cobblestoned streets are perfect for strolls and (window)shopping. There are so many nice brasseries and restaurants to choose from, and the boutiques offer beautiful (designer, vintage and affordable) clothing. As I said before, even coming from Amsterdam which is quite a buzzing international city as well, you feel like you are abroad, which I love!
The B&B served its purpose quite well. It was exactly located where we wanted to be, decorated nicely and the staff was helpful. If you are looking for a charming little place to sleep, crash after shopping and before going out for dinner, this is a really good option. The rooms are big enough but cozy, they offer a reasonably prices parking spot within 10 minutes reach and you can explore this nice part of the city by foot. We would go there again.
This was an adults only trip! But Maastricht is a very child friendly city- more on that later!