On our last morning in Maastricht, I got up early to take a few photos of the Kruisenherenhotel and walk the streets of the city. The Kruisenherenhotel was one of my favorite hotels. I’m ready to go back!
Chateau St. Gerlach
Departing Maastricht, we stopped in the nearby village of Valkenburg for breakfast and a site inspection of The Chateau St. Gerlach. The historic buildings date back to the year 1200 and were once a monastery built to accommodate pilgrims who had come to pay homage to the hermit Gerlach of Houthem.
The guestrooms, housed in the former farmstead, boast views of Baroque gardens. The breakfast was INCREDIBLE – but you’d certainly expect this, as The Chateau St. Gerlach is a Relais & Chateaux hotel! Pamper yourself in true five-star style in these picturesque surroundings.
The Chateau St. Gerlach has been restored with the greatest care and eye for detail. For a getaway …and an area of quiet reflection… this is an excellent location.
Velvet Cave and Castle Ruin
Looking for a unique tour experience? Head for the Velvet Cave and Castle Ruin in Valkenburg. The little village of Valkenburg is also called Marlstone Town. You’ll see the yellow martlstone throughout the town – on the surface in the houses, and below the surface in the caves. The caves contain impressive mural carvings, inscriptions, and exceptional sculptures. Our host, Frank Storm, gave us a wonderful tour.
Originally, Marl was mined from the caves by block breakers for use as a building stone. As a result of this marlstone mining, there now exists an extensive labyrinth of rugged passageways. These tunnels allowed the knights and their footmen to escape the castle in siege times.
In the Second World War, during the German occupation, the cave served as a hideout for the people of Valkenburg and for the American troops. It served as a shelter and a field hospital. You have to go with a guide… or you’ll be lost forever!
Netherlands American Cemetery
After lunch in Valkenberg we journeyed to the Netherlands American Cemetery. This is the 2nd largest American War Cemetery in Europe (after Normandy). More than 8,000 American soldiers have been buried here. If you have family members buried here, it is advisable to contact the museum before arriving, so they can arrange a visit to your relative’s grave-site.
The walls on either side of the Court of Honor contain 1,722 missing who gave their lives in the service of their country and rest in unknown graves. Beyond the chapel and the tall memorial tower is the burial area.
The Conservatorium Hotel
After visiting the Netherlands American Cemetery we headed to Amsterdam. Because we lived in Copenhagen, Amsterdam was often our connecting point when we headed home… so we’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time there. Upon arrival, our group split and our smaller group headed to The Conservatorium Hotel.
The Conservatorium Hotel was my favorite hotel during our Educational Tour of The Netherlands. It had the modern features you want, coupled with the old-world service standards you expect in a 5-star luxury hotel. Although NOT in the canal zone, it’s located across the street from the Van Gogh Museum. Each morning we had a wonderful and diverse breakfast. The hotel has an incredible bar, elegant shops on the 1st floor, a new Asian-fusion restaurant and incredible attention to detail. By far the BEST-RUN hotel operation we encountered in our travels.
The rooms were huge and had all the amenities you’d expect. Unless you have to be in the canal zone, this is the first hotel I would suggest. Again, the best hotel experience of my travels in The Netherlands.
Hotel Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam
Our first night in Amsterdam, we enjoyed dinner at The Hotel Sofitel Legend, The Grand Amsterdam. We alos got the chance to tour the hotel – so much history has been made at this location. The Grand Amsterdam offers five-star luxury, is furnished with French elegance and grandeur, and sits on a canal in the middle of historical Amsterdam. In fact, it’s not far from the Red Light District.
Our hosts for the evening were Moreno Forte, Assistant Director of Sales, and Glaucia Torrez, Sales Manager. I was pleasantly surprised by the hotel, far more than I expected, and would recommend it to all travelers – especially given its central location.
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