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Me, myself and I

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Having a passion for hotels and exploring new cultures. Giving advice to future guests is invaluable. In this blog, I will be writing reviews about quality hotels and I will be adding some pictures and videos. I will comment on the overall atmosphere, the architecture and the interior. A hotel is more than just a room to stay in: amenities such as the bar, the restaurant and the spa services are equally important. Everyone has their own opinion, but I will provide you with an objective impression to give you a general and clear idea of what is awaiting you.

Enjoy reading and travelling!

Christophe Delcroix

Christophe.Delcroix@gmail.com

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Hotel Utrecht

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Hotelchain: Van der Valk
Location: Utrecht – Netherlands
Classification: 4 star hotel
Official websitevandervalkhotelutrecht.nl

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Located near the beautiful city of Utrecht, Hotel Utrecht is a great four star hotel with excellent amenities. This brand new hotel opened only a couple of months ago and as you can expect from a Van der Valk Hotel, the hotel is luxuriously decorated and offers great facilities which I will tell you more about later.

Hotel Utrecht definitely is one of the better options if you are looking for a hotel near Utrecht. The hotel is easily reachable as it is located near the A12 highway. Right upon arrival, I was welcomed with a smile and the front desk staff told me everything I needed to know about the hotel and the facilities. I was happy to find out that as soon as I entered, I felt pampered. The interior is totally up to date, cozy chic and I immediately liked the contemporary design of the hotel. The very spacious lobby area is just beautiful.

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All 185 rooms at Hotel Utrecht are comfortably appointed with all the facilities you’d expect of a four star hotel. Our room was beautifully decorated! I appreciated the comfy lounge couch and excellent bed! As usual at every Van der Valk property, each room here is very spacious and efficiently shaped.

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Bathroom featured an oversized whirlpool bath tub and single sink. On top of that, the large walk-in (rain)shower was excellent!

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The theme suites are just wonderful. They’re all very spacious and ultra luxurious!

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I should definitely mention the gorgeous onsite indoor pool which is located on the 20th floor. As the pool is located on one of the top floors, the panoramic views are stunning. Next to the pool is the wellness area where guests can enjoy the (infrared + traditional Finnish) saunas and hammam at no additional charge. Body treatments can be booked here too. There’s also an on-site fitness facility.

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Their restaurant, ‘V’ which refers to ‘Valk’, offers an international cuisine. I really like the contemporary and modern décor of the restaurant. We had dinner here and I must admit the food is outstanding as is the service. We enjoyed a wonderful salmon which was prepared exactly the way we requested. Each morning, they serve breakfast here too.

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I usually really like the breakfasts at Van der Valk hotels. Hotel Utrecht didn’t disappoint at all. The large breakfast buffet was of a good quality and did offer something for anyone. My favorite was the granola with ginger.

Hotel Utrecht is a top notch four star hotel which makes part of the Van der Valk hotel chain. This very comfortable hotel offers a good location, lovely interiors and the most comfortable facilities. Highly recommended to stay here when you are looking for a nice getaway near Utrecht!

Steigenberger Airport Hotel Amsterdam

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Hotelchain: Deutsche hospitality
Location: Amsterdam Airport
Classification: 4 star hotel
Official websitesteigenberger.com/…/steigenberger-airport-hotel-schiphol

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Combine the global network of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with a first class business hotel and a luxury accommodation in a metropolitan city, then you get the best of three worlds: The Steigenberger Airport Hotel Amsterdam, one of the largest and best MICE locations in the area! The free of charge Shuttle Service will bring you to-and-from Schiphol Airport within 8 minutes. The hotel is located in the non-flying zone and next to the beautiful Amsterdam forest.

The 440 comfortable luxury rooms and suites are decorated with warm colors and are designed to maximize privacy and rest. The 15 flexible and modern meeting rooms, all with natural daylight on the ground floor, offer space for up to 620 persons for a wide range of events. It goes without saying that all meeting rooms are equipped with presentation technology and free WIFI.

It is known as one of the best hotels in the area so I was pretty excited to get the chance to experience. The hotel is located in a very modern building. The lobby is very spacious and gives a great first impression.

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Check-in staff made me feel very welcome and was down to earth, not over the top which sometimes is the case at other hotels but still acting very professional. You feel at ease here, which is worth a lot… especially after a long flight!

The room I stayed in was large and of a true 4 star level. The deluxe room was recently renovated and featured a small comfy couch and a large working desk. The modern bathroom was great featuring an oversized (rain) shower which was heavenly! The room was totally up to date and decorated in a very nice way. Another great feature of the rooms: they’re all soundproof assuring you a good nights’ sleep. By the way, did you know the hotel is located in a non flying zone? That is right, I didn’t hear one plane during my stay at the hotel.

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Steigenberger Airport Hotel Amsterdam has a full Spa and wellness Center which is a great especially after long flights. The Lifestyle Club & Active Spa is pretty large featuring a great indoor swimming pool which is pretty large for hotel standards. There are also steam showers and saunas which guests can use at no additional charge. The treatment I had was one of the best massages I have had in Amsterdam. The therapist did an amazing job and I felt like walking on clouds throughout the treatment. It was so relaxing… Definitely book a treatment when you are there as you will be pampered and relaxed as never before!

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At night I had dinner at Trattoria. This Italian styled restaurant offers excellent dishes in a cozy atmosphere. You could tell that the Chef is Italian. This is not just an ordinary hotel restaurant. The food they serve here is just d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. Hands down, I can honestly tell you that I had the best raw beef tartar ever! Also, the presentation was top notch! As a main course, the Monkfish which was wrapped in lardo bisque came with gamba, a foam of San Daniele and a cream of shallots. The straw potato and radicchio made a perfect combination. I must also highlight the great and personal service here. Everyone I met and spoke to was very friendly and accommodating! Thumbs up!

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Another option to have a good bite and drink is their Sports & Media Bar. This pub is very cozy and the perfect place to relax and have a good chat with your fellow travelers.
I started the next day with an excellent breakfast. The Restaurant Patio is located on the ground floor next to the lobby area. The buffet is large and the quality of the food is outstanding! It will please everyone! Personally, my favorites were the pastries. They even offer some yummy apple pie. You should definitely try it out yourself.

Steigenberger Airport Hotel Amsterdam is an excellent option if you are looking for a hotel near the Airport of Amsterdam. The real advantages of staying here are the gorgeous renovated rooms, the large Spa & Wellness Center with an indoor heated swimming pool and the great hospitality. Do note that they offer a very convenient and efficient complimentary shuttle service to/from the hotel which will take you to the airport in just 10 minutes. The shuttle runs 2 times per hour. So just park your car safely at the hotel and let your holiday start right away! I promise, it will be a great start of your journey! Can’t wait to return!

Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden

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Hotelchain: Kempinski
Location: Dresden – Germany
Classification: 5 star Superior hotel
Official websitekempinski.com/…en/hotel-taschenbergpalais

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Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden is one of the most luxurious five star hotel in gorgeous Dresden. I truly was blown away by the top notch service and overall quality. From the beginning to the last second, everything felt right here. This Kempinski is currently rated as one the best hotels in Dresden and I can easily see why…

The hotel building is just stunning and was built in 1705 as a palace for countess Anna Constanze von Hoym. The building was completely destroyed during the second world war and was rebuilt. The traditional lobby area is enormous and ultra luxurious. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when entering this hotel. It did feel like entering a palace … They did keep some of the original constructions such as the grand staircase which is absolutely gorgeous.

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Staff was very kind and made us feel welcome. What I liked here was the personal check-in. My key was handed in just seconds. Very professional. Usual hotel services were explained in a very kind way. As usual at any Kempinski hotel, the red lady – this time it was Isabelle – guided me to my room and explained everything I needed to know.

Each room at Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden is luxuriously appointed and has everything I could wish for. The rooms, even the ‘standard’ rooms are very large with very high ceilings and a classy interior. The Superior Room I stayed had the most comfortable couches and oversized working desk. The bed was one of the best beds I have ever slept in! It was enormous and the bed linen were of an excellent quality. Our room even had a large balcony offering stunning views over the old town of Dresden.

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Bathroom was very large featuring a bath tub, very large separate shower and double sinks. Some very nice details I appreciated in particular were the small candle in the bathroom and bath salt amenities.

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The personal approach here is of a high level. Each staff member I met was very kind and professional. You never feel uncomfortable here while staff is serving you. It feels very naturally which means the service level is of an unseen level.

In the afternoon I was pleased to experience the spa facilities at Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden. After all those good previous services, I realized that this experience would be one of kind as well. And it definitely was! I was escorted to the beautiful treatment room where the excellent therapist made me feel in heaven as she was massaging my body. The aromatic Ayurveda massage was excellent and what I requested before the treatment (medium pressure, etc.) was exactly done. As they described this treatment themselves, this traditional Indian full body massage brings total relaxation and purifies the body for an entire well-being feeling. After this 60’ massage, I thoroughly enjoyed my energizing tea and realized I felt like reborn!

I was ready to explore more of this gorgeous spa center. A few months ago (November 2018) they opened their completely modernized pool area. It looks brand new and gave me this exclusive feeling. I must highlight the cozy lounge suites next to pool which are excellent for relaxing and some me-time. Loved it! Several types of saunas are available as well. Loved the steam room and relaxation area.

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Dinner was served at Palais Bistro where guests can enjoy a traditional French cuisine. This restaurant is designed in a very nice way. It was like dining in a French Bistro. We started with some delicious cocktails followed by a nice dinner. As a main course I ordered the Lacombe pork cutlet with came with shallot butter, beef marrow and bacon wrapped green beans. The lyonnaise potatoes were just great. For the dessert, I highly recommend the Pecan Sundae: 2 scoops of espresso of espresso brittle ice cream and 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream, sliced bananas and some delicious pecan brownie pieces. On top of that, they added whipped cream, roasted pecan nuts and caramel sauce. It was heavenly!

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Breakfast at Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden is served at Restaurant Intermezzo. The buffet breakfast has something to offer for anyone! I really liked their freshly baked waffles which tasted excellent! Thumbs up!

Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden is one of a kind! This gorgeous grand hotel has a prime location and offers high quality accommodation and services! Highly recommended!

Burj Al Arab

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Hotelchain: Jumeirah
Location: Dubai – UAE
Classification: 5 star hotel deluxe (some say world’s only 7 star hotel)
Official websitehttp://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/burj-al-arab/

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Internationally renowned as world’s most luxurious hotel, I had the opportunity to experience the famous Burj Al Arab in Dubai. It is located on a man-made island, 280 meters from the Jumeirah beach. It is the flagship of the Jumeirah hotel group.  Only hotel guests (or guests with a reservation in one of the restaurants) can enter the hotel, so there is no sightseeing here.  This is a good thing, as I saw a number of people at the front gate taking pictures of the hotel.

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Location

Located at Jumeirah beach, Burj Al Arab is located between Dubai Marina and Business Bay. There’s a holiday vibe around the area.

When I approached the entrance, I was impressed with the height of the hotel… 321 meters above sea level… Trust me, it is HUGE!  As soon as you enter the Burj Al Arab, you will enter in a completely different world.  I truly was blown away… Gold everywhere.  It is reportedly the only 7 star hotel in the world and I can easily understand why.  After taking the escalator — with a huge aquarium – you can look up 200 meters. A lot of looking up!  Did you know that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside?  Also, there are dancing fountains all over the place with tons of different programs, so you’ll never get bored when watching!

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The suites

There are no rooms in the Burj al Arab, only suites. Starting at 170m² (1,829 sq. ft.), all of the rooms are duplex suites, each with the highest level of comfort one could wish for.  The Burj has 1600 staff members looking over “only” 202 suites.  So that’s… eight members for each suite? Yep! There is a private check-in and butler service for each suite. No waiting times here at the reception. They explain everything you need to know and will do anything you ask — like making reservations in one of the restaurants, booking day trips to the city, making sure you will get the dessert you want, etc.

Every suite in the Burj Al Arab is beautifully decorated. Although the hotel opened back in 1999, the suites look very up to date and brand new. From the marble entrance with large staircase to the oversized living rooms, you will feel like a king or queen while walking around. They have the world’s most expensive mattresses, which can be adapted to customer needs and preferences. These things are making this hotel truly unique; returning guests are assured they will have a wonderful night.

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The bathrooms are huge — they used Italian marble – and you will be so relaxed after spending some time in the oversized jacuzzi.  Oh, a great thing: did you know that Hermès produced a special edition of perfume for the Burj Al Arab?  That is right, full-size Hermès Burj Al Arab amenities (female + male) are offered to guests at no additional charge. Of course, you could take them home as a souvenir.

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Spa facilities

A full spa – the Talise Spa – is located on one of the top floors. I was not able to take pictures of the spa area, but there is an indoor pool, jacuzzi, fitness, etc. Several treatments are offered and after a relaxing massage you can relax in the spa resting area, accessible for guests only, of course. From there, you can look straight down (200 meters!) to the ground level. Very impressive and not recommended when afraid of heights 🙂

Spa treatments are excellent! They exactly know how to make you feel at ease and so relaxed. Just tell them which pressure you prefer and you will enjoy every single minute. The soft music all over the place made it even more relaxing.

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There is also an outdoor pool area — and the Burj has its own beach across the bridge. The recently opened Terrace is stunning! For water fun, there is complimentary access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark, which is located across the bridge.

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The famous Burj Al Arab hotel is one of Dubai’s highlights and one of world’s best hotels… The hotel’s immaculate reputation is well earned and you will be impressed with every aspect of your stay!

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

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Hotelchain: Mandarin Oriental
Location: Bangkok – Thailand
Classification: 5 star hotel
Official websitemandarinoriental.com/bangkok

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The famous Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is the flagship of the prestigious Mandarin Oriental Group. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok was the first hotel in Thailand and is more than 140 years old, it was built in 1876. Today it is still one of world’s best hotels. Actually, it has been rated as world’s best hotel for 10 years and I can easily understand why. I was so fortunate to stay here and truly was and still am blown away by the service and comfort they provide.

Location

You can’t beat the location, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is located right next to the Chao Phraya River and the most popular tourist sites are nearby. The public boat will take you to the Grand Palace in just about 15 minutes.

This ultra-luxurious five star hotel offers 324 rooms and 44 suites, a world-class spa and several high end restaurants which I will tell you more about later.

As soon as I entered this palace, I noticed the attention to details. The way they combined the elegant Thai style with seductive modern touches is just wonderful. Mandarin Oriental hotels are known for their hospitality and service. Several staff members actually remembered my name. Those are small things, but they make a world difference. Every single staff member I met, greeted me with a smile and took care of every request in a very kind and professional way. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a traditional Thai flower hand garland.

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Rooms/suites

We stayed in a deluxe room and luxurious it definitely was. They decorated the rooms in a very elegant and very classy way. The leather couch was great for watching television. I could have spent here all day long 🙂 The view over the river and Bangkok’s surroundings was great. I watched the long tail boats floating by while enjoying some drinks. This is what a perfect hotel room looks like. Even the marble bathroom was an eye catcher featuring a separate bath tub and walk-in shower. The silk bathrobes were amazing. Another feature I appreciated very much was the in-room interactive entertainment system which allows iPod/MP3 integration. The high quality audio system was of a very good quality. All rooms at the Mandarin Oriental come with Butler Service, always a bonus! Did you know that the Mandarin Oriental has one of the highest staff to guest room ratio in the entire hotel industry (3 staff per guest room)!

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The recently redecorated rooms at the Author’s Wing are very stylish and the Royal Suite which I visited was the best and most luxurious suite I have ever seen, hands down!

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Restaurants/bars

At night we had dinner at Sala Rim Naam offering an authentic Thai cuisine, but first we had some cocktails at the Bamboo bar. It was pretty hard to choose from the extensive cocktail menu but the very knowledgeable bartender gave us some good recommendations.   While we were enjoying the delicious Thai food (I LOVE Thai food!), we were enjoying a classical Thai dance show. We were in Bangkok for just a few days and this was the perfect evening to experience the true Thai tradition and hospitality. I thoroughly likes the Mussamun Nuea, the southern style beef curry with sweet potato and onion. The menu was prepared in an excellent way and service was top notch! Although there’s a smart casual dress code where they kindly request guests to wear elegant attire, the atmosphere was very relaxed and easy going.

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Pool area

The next morning I started my day with a swim in the stunning pool. There are two pools, a wading pool which is perfect for leisure and a 25 metre long pool which is ideal for swimming laps. As soon as I approached the pool area, staff member greeted me and gave me some plush towels and some water. Although the Mandarin Oriental is right in the middle of Bangkok, it felt like a hidden gem here. It was so quiet here… fantastic way to start my day! Beside the pools, a full fitness center is available 24 hrs. They offer complimentary fitness classes… After your work out you can relax in the sauna, steam room or jacuzzi. And if you are into tennis and/or squash, the Mandarin Oriental has two outdoor tennis courts and one squash court.

Spa facilities

If you just want to relax make sure you visit the Spa facilities which are located in a separate building across the river. The spa of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is one of Asia’s leading spa center offering several beautifully decorated treatment rooms and steam facilities. They even have a few ‘specialty suites’ for couples with private steam showers and vitality pools.

I enjoyed a after-jet-lag treatment and absolutely loved it! After selecting my favorite scent I felt so relaxed and almost fell asleep which is a huge compliment. Just take a look at their spa menu as they offer several kind of treatments.

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Then it was time for breakfast! Breakfast is served at the Riverside Terrace and believe me, having breakfast here with such a stunning view is just awesome! Quality of the food was outstanding! The riverside terrace offers stunning views. I enjoyed the long tail boats passing by. Service was great, never was asked for too much. Do try their home made yoghurt and pastries!

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No wonder the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is well known for its service and overall facilities! The high reputation is well deserved and I can easily understand why this hotel is one of world’s leading hotels! From the personal printed writing paper with your name on it to the fresh flowers all over the room… The Thai hospitality is amazing and I can’t say enough good things about this hotel! Six stars all the way!

Van der Valk Hotel Amsterdam – Amstel

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Hotelchain: Van der Valk
Location: Amsterdam – Netherlands
Classification: 4 star hotel
Official websitevandervalkamsterdam.com

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Located in a very interesting spot in Amsterdam East, Van der Valk Hotel Amsterdam Amstel is a brand new four star hotel. This Van der Valk hotel opened its doors in October 2018 and is a great asset for Amsterdam. Let me first tell you something about the location. Although it is not located in the center of Amsterdam, the center is reachable within 10 minutes as the metrostation Overamstel is only a few minutes away from the hotel and will take you to the city center in just minutes. I liked the area where the hotel is located and because of its height, the hotel offers stunning views over the Amstel and Amsterdam. Very nice!

When I entered the hotel I was wowed by the stunning lobby area. It just looks amazing… A contemporary designed place where it is great to hang out, enjoying a drink and making new friends. I just love the place, it is all about connectivity in a friendly and luxurious environment. I immediately noticed that Van der Valk Hotel Amsterdam Amstel is a pretty large hotel with 206 rooms.

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After a friendly and efficient check-in, I was ready to explore the room. Actually, I didn’t stay at one of their stunning bedrooms, I got the honor to explore and experience their recently opened Penthouse Suite. I was amazed by how beautifully decorated this suite is. The Penthouse Suite at Van der Valk Amsterdam Amstel is extremely large with sitting and dining area and each inch is absolutely stunning! The comfortable lounger was great for relaxing and surfing on my iPad, the large designer desk was excellent for doing some work and the best was among the most comfortable bed I have slept in. I must also highlight the panoramic view over Amsterdam. For an ultra luxurious, decadent and romantic getaway, this definitely is the suite you should book!

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Marble open bathroom both has a huge jacuzzi bathtub and separate shower.

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One of the highlights at Van der Valk Hotel Amsterdam Amstel is their wellness area ‘De Tropen’. This gorgeous spa center is the place to relax and unwind! It offers a traditional Finish sauna, a steam room and infrared sauna. The best feature however is the gorgeous heated outdoor pool. The whole area is well designed and maintained in a very good way. Thumbs up!

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At night I had dinner at Bar Moqum and I must say that the food and service were excellent! It is not just an ordinary hotel bar… I noticed several non hotel guests enjoying a delicious meal here. The menu is varied, from meat to fish, from healthy options to let’s say less healthy but yummy choices, it’s all there and prepared in an excellent way! As a main course I ordered the curry. It came with steamed rice and I enjoyed each bite. As a dessert I tried the Dame Blance which was prepared just the way I like it: the best vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce… mmmmmmm …

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Restaurant Amstelle is their fine dining restaurant which looked pretty amazing. Although I did not eat there myself – based on the pictures and opinions of others – the food must be pretty good!

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After all the eating and drinking, I was happy to find out that there’s a full sized fitness center ADAM.

Breakfast is served at Buffet restaurant ‘t IJ. As usual at any Van der Valk Hotel, the buffet style breakfast offers something for anyone. I particularly liked the smoothies and pancakes! They were so yummie! Do note that this restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner. At night, there’s a large buffet with all kinds of dishes and live cooking. I heard their pizzas are pretty delicious!

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Van der Valk Hotel Amsterdam Amstel is a top notch four star property which I thoroughly enjoyed. Staff was very professional and kind, interior has been nicely designed and wellness area is among the best I have experienced in Amsterdam! It is not one of those formal luxury hotels, I felt at ease and was treated in a very kind yet professional way. Can’t wait to return!

Radisson Blu Astrid

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Hotelchain: Radisson Blu
Location: Antwerp – Belgium
Classification: 4 star superior hotel
Official websiteradissonblu.com/nl/astridhotel-antwerp

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Radisson Blu Astrid is a great four superior star hotel in the center of Antwerp. You can’t beat the location, you are in the middle of it all. The world famous Central Station of Antwerp is right across the hotel. The main shopping area is only a few minutes away! This is a very convenient location to explore all the major attractions Antwerp has to offer!

The exceptional iconic façade of the hotel is just gorgeous and has been designed by Michael Graves, a famous American architect. Once inside, I was surprised that the hotel has been renovated recently and is totally up to date. It looks like a new hotel. The reception staff was friendly and everything we needed to know about the hotel and its facilities were explained in a very kind way.

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The rooms at Radisson Blu Astrid are of a four star level and offer all the comfort you’d need for an upmost comfortable stay including a Nespresso coffee machine. Again, they are recently renovated and I appreciated the contemporary design and overall lay out. The room I stayed in had a full view over the central station. Just beautiful!

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Bathroom was comfortable and featured a bath tub. Bathrobes were provided. I must also highlight the good quality toiletries. They even provide a deep sleep pillow spray which worked pretty well.

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On the first floor, a full spa center is available. Radisson Blu Astrid offers an indoor heated swimming pool, sauna and steam room. Right next to the pool area is a large fitness facility. The place was very well maintained and towels are provided.

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I love the large bar Made right next to the check in area. Several cozy sitting areas can be found here with plush sofas and amazing drinks at affordable prices! This is the perfect spot to chat with friends and have a great time! They have the best cocktails there, be sure to check out the HAVN gin, a local gin. I’m sure you will love it as much as I did! It was great to find out that a lot of local people were enjoying themselves in the hotel as well. It is the place where local people and guests merge!

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Their Made in Antwerp restaurant offers delightful dishes with a lot of healthy options. Decoration is wonderful and trendy. Very nice!

At night, we thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful dinner here. The chef definitely knows how to combine ingredients, flavors were amazing! As a starter, the shrimp croquettes with pork bacon were delicious. The Belgian Blue Steak with pommes Anna as a main course was outstanding! And we always have some room for dessert, the signature hazelnut éclair was one of the best I have had in my life! I must mention that each plate was beautifully presented! Service was easy going yet professional – Top!

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Restaurant Windows of Antwerp is the place where they serve breakfast. The large buffet consists of several cheeses, meat, etc. Most of you know I love eggs and they do know how to prepare the eggs just the way I prefer! Thumbs up! Each morning guests can enjoy fresh orange juice which was a bonus!

Besides of Made and Windows of Antwerp, there’s also a Starbucks located in the hotel. Always nice to grab a nice coffee.

Radisson Blu Astrid is a perfect hotel to stay at when visiting Antwerp! Each time I entered the hotel, I felt like coming home which is quite unique! Can’t wait to return to this beautiful place with the most convenient location and accommodating staff.