On Monday, January 11, we pulled up in front of a majestic pearl-white building. Standing outside, my eyes grew big, awed at the regality of it all. We were warmly welcomed by Willem, the doorman, whom we befriended during our stay. My dear friend and fellow author Savannah Grace (@Sihpromatum) and I were in town, with her mom Maggie, for the Vakantiebeurs (Vacation Trade Show) and the #TRLT tweetmeet. Be sure to also read about Savannah’s experiences.
The three of us had the pleasure of staying at the five-star Grand Hotel Karel V. Upon our arrival, after settling into our spacious corner room, we received a tour from Anouk van Vliet. The hotel is situated in the center of Utrecht, although the hustle and bustle of the city feels far away as you wander around the sprawling property.
The history fascinated me. The main building – where we stayed – originally served as the headquarters for the Teutonic Knights’ Order. The Teutonic Knights’ Order was founded in 1190 during a crusade to Palestine, but in subsequent centuries, shifted its focus to Europe. The Teutonic Knights defended the faith and cared for the sick, wounded, and aged.
In 1808, however, King Louis Napoleon took over and converted the building into a military hospital in 1811. The hospital played an important role for years until 1986, when the house was neglected and became a residence for squatters and anti-squatters. In 1997, a company obtained ownership and the restoration process began, bringing the building back to its original splendor. The hotel opened in 1999.
The décor made us feel as if we were staying in a palace. The gardens are green and peaceful, with the city center only steps away. The hotel even offers a wellness center, complete with fitness equipment, sauna, steam bath, solarium, and swimming pool. The meeting rooms are flooded with striking architecture and history, adding to the entire experience. The two restaurants – Grand Restaurant Karel V and Brasserie Goeie Lousia – have their own personalities, as well. The chandelier in the main restaurant serves as the center piece. Ironically, the space was formerly where the monks used to eat – in silence. Today, the room often buzzes with chatter. The Brasserie, on the other hand, used to be the monastery kitchen.
Overall, our stay was delightful. Not only is the hotel in a great location, the facilities are wonderful, and it is neat to say we stayed in a place that previously housed a variety of guests, including emperors, kings, and soldiers. If you are ever looking for a place to stay in Utrecht, look no further than the Grand Hotel Karel V. The moment you arrive, you’ll see why it is called “Grand.”