This could be one of the most stylish places to stay in Europe. There is very little not to love about Netherlands. It’s beautiful people, it’s well ordered and above all clean streets, it’s wonderfully reliable and comfortable railway system and it’s beer. Oh I love the beer.
I arrived in Roermond after a long day which had started with a 7am flight and a three hour train ride to the first of four meetings. I had the sort of weariness that novelists love to write about; the sort where your bones feel like they are made of lead.
Firstly, Roermond is exactly what you’d expect in Netherlands, and being so close to the three way border of Germany and Belgium, it has influences from all three countries. Strolling through the streets in search of some dinner and above all beer, was as reinvigorating as a good long shower with little treasure troves of stylish decoration to be found everywhere to help immerse yourself into a distinctly picturesque city.
It was Het Arresthuis that I was particularly looking forward to. I had heard a lot about this hotel which was one of several projects by Netherlands to convert their prison blocks into hotels.
This actually does need to be mentioned as it is something quite wonderful. Thanks to a focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment, Netherlands’ crime rate has dropped 25% and because of this, to be converted into a hotel where people can now pay to stay is the destiny of many redundant jailhouses.
Structurally the hotel is still a prison and sitting in the lounge positioned within the centre of the multi-storey hall with those steel staircases and steel balconies, I couldn’t help but a feel a sense of awe. Not only that such a place, that for over a hundred years was a place of punishment and incarceration where people must have faced real demons but also that it could be turned into something so stylish and majestic.
The rooms are special in their own regard too. The waterfall shower and the wide mirror could not hide the fact that this was a concrete shower where once before a prisoner used. But the cell itself was more spacious than what you’d expect to find in some purpose designed hotel rooms which is telling in a way. There was a sense that this would be a great place for contemplation and meditation.
The Food was exquisite and matched only by the service which equally singular. The breakfast menu in the morning (included with the room) warranted a second visit to the buffet as well as a order of the waffles; honestly I think the staff must have thought I was a bit of a grotesquery for the amount that I gobbled up in one sitting.
I hate boring hotels. I hate sleeping in a room that is just that, ‘a room’ and if I find nothing unusual or interesting I am usually quite disappointed. I love a room that offers something worthwhile to mention online; something different and special that adds to the journey rather than just being a place to lay my head.
It is true that we are living in a world driven by Social Media and so I naturally gravitate towards hotels that offer something “Instagram worthy”. Comfortable beds that I can stretch my six.six frame out is important, a shower that makes me want to dance is vital, yes, a good quality steam iron and iron board too- all important. But today hotels need to offer something worth sharing and that is what Het Arresthuis is. Highly shareable.
It offers style that would make this an epic place a business trip, it has comfort so you can bring your family, it also has uniqueness to add an originality to your bachelor or hen party. Frankly, I think I should just stay here forever. My mother always did say I would end up in a cell.
Follow Het Arresthuis on twitter at @arresthuis
or visit their website: www.hetarresthuis.nl