The Kruisheren hotel in Maastricht, a member of Design HotelsTM is literally concealed in an exquisite piece of history; so much so that you could easily miss spotting it as the church it is housed in provides no clue to its existence.
A calm and quiet bolthole located in the city centre of Maastricht in the Netherlands and located within the renovated 15th century monastery of the Crutched Friars offers you an incredible combination of an authentic Gothic exterior and a sleek, full of restraint modern interior.
The narrow entrance to the hotel is just a small arch which leads you inside through a short tunnel made fully out of copper. Once you step inside this full of character hotel, it is a scene of profound calm and the sobriety where its frill free interior becomes just the right foil for the medieval architecture exuding a religious vibe.
Camille Oostwegel is every inch a Limburg hotelier and all of his hotels and restaurants are housed in monumental buildings that he restored to their former glory, including the Kruisheren hotel Maastricht, where smart design lives somewhere between heaven and earth.
It is an art to convert a house of worship into a hotel and with Kruisheren, architect Henk Vos has done a splendid job of preserving the past and still meeting with the expectations of the well travelled vacationer. He has created an individual contemporary character for each room, using various colour schemes, styles and furnishings.
Resting on basic principles of transparency, space, modernity and comfort, the interiors are enhanced by exciting contrasts with the stained glass windows and the stunning, authentic wall and ceiling paintings. The overall result is visually challenging and is in a fine balance between paying tribute to contemporary architectural design and honouring age-old construction and detailing.
Refurbished with the intent of showcasing the beauty of the original architecture, many challenges in the building were met with innovative solutions, like a free standing glass elevator which connects the church to the monastery area. No part of the facility actually touches the walls of the shell that is the church, and so ingeniously is the hotel housed in the church space that if asked to vacate, it can be packed up and out in just days without leaving a trace behind.
The 60-room Kruisheren, Maastricht complex consists of the original monastery and a Gothic Church, which now houses the reception area and several other facilities, including conference rooms, a library, a boutique, a restaurant and a wine bar.
A newly installed mezzanine in the erstwhile church space is used for serving breakfast to the guests who are spoilt with views of the city as seen through the beautiful chancel windows.
The espace vinicole or wine bar is another dramatic location where the guests may be indulged with an impressive range of wines; the large glass vault which holds the wines makes a striking picture. Beautiful monastery gardens present on the premises are perfect to sit in with a drink and a book in good weather.
Exciting and unique elements may be discovered all over the hotel, which not only inspire much thought but also impart a blissful feeling of seeing things that have been carefully preserved through the ages; for example, on a closer look embedded in the floor of the lobby is a monk’s grave.
The iconic artist Henri Landier’s paintings grace the walls and become just the apt type of art as the artist is known for his renditions of the old Masters.
The colour red is a vestige from the days when scarlet was the Papal colour and here at Kruisheren it is peppered all over the space carefully. It shows up in places like the upholstery, curtains, carpets, etc. and reinforces the religious virtue of the place.
Candles placed all over, the faded frescoes on the walls and the lights hanging from the ceiling looking nothing less than celestial, further tie up the intended ambience. All over the old elements of the church are preserved fiercely but given newer functions.
Maastricht is a great city with many historical structures and squares. But there’s one place in particular that you cannot miss visiting and that’s ‘het Vrijthof’, which is very close to Kruisheren. Vrijthof square has attracted people since medieval times when pilgrims came to see the grave of Saint Servatius. These days, Vrijthof is known for its outdoor cafés and events.
To a list that includes ice, tree, underwater and cave hotels, you can now add a stay at a ‘church hotel’. Amen!
Text By Mala Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy Design Hotels