My husband and I are masters of slow travel. After all, that is how our relationship started – three weeks of leisure travel in Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines. We do research a bit beforehand but we don’t really mind getting side-tracked. It only adds up to the fun.
My job allows me to travel a lot and because of budget constraint I usually stay in affordable hotels. I don’t consider myself very fussy about accomodations when travelling for business, usually a small room with a clean bathroom and warm water is sufficient. I have even stayed in a hotel for truck drivers and slept on a car in a parking lot in France.
But when I travel for pleasure, I do like to splurge on expensive hotels especially when I am with my husband. I think it is very important that when you came back to your room from whatever activities you did, you can relax fully and feel pampered.
My husband chose Chateau d’Urspelt in Luxembourg for our yearly weekend trip to celebrate his birthday. We had a wonderful time at Chateau D’ Hassonville in Aye, Belgium last year so my expectations were high although I already had a feeling that it would not be met. From the website photos, Chateau d’Urspelt looks too polished that it doesn’t give an authentic meaning to a real chateau anymore. Nonetheless, we booked two nights – one of it is their Wine, Dine and Sleep Fine arrangement.
After 3.5 hours of driving from Rotterdam to Urspelt we arrived at the chateau feeling tired naturally. The parking lot was on the side of the hotel, at least a 2-minute walk from the entrance. I was surprised that nobody took our heavy bags to carry it inside. At Chateau D’Hassonville, aside from having an automatic gate, they have a footman at the entrance who takes your bags and bring it straight to your room.
The receptionist speaks French and English but when she heard us talking, she spoke Dutch to us which was nice. We were first shown a room on the first floor with twin beds. I didn’t like it because that would mean not being able to cuddle properly in the evening because the beds will separate when we are moving during our sleep.
But the cremant on the side table took much of my attention so instead of asking for a change of room right away, we first toasted for good life. After getting a little buzz from the bubbles, I finally opened the windows and checked the room. We have a view of a parking lot and cow’s shed! For the money I paid for that room, that’s certainly not the view that I expected when it was supposed to be a hotel sorrounded with rolling hills.
I called reception to ask for a room change and luckily they are not booked fully booked that weekend. They gave us an attic room on the third floor, a little smaller especially the bed but at least it’s a double bed (but really it feels like a single bed). And we finally have a view of Luxembourg’s rolling hills (but also that parking lot). Thinking about it now, I could have just canceled the entire booking.
The bathroom was very small for two people to be there at the same time. There is not enough space for your toiletries in the bathroom table and a woman know’s that’s it’s very important to have somewhere near the mirror to put your vanity kits.At least the shower was big and the water powerful.
The hotel does not have an ambiance of a real chateau. It feels fake and it looks fake. I think the owners renovated it too much that they stripped off essential parts which could have given it a closer feel to the original manor.
It’s halls are like that of a 3 star hotel and I am missing a lot of wooden furnishings and luxurious curtains. From the outside they built it like a manor house with all the trimmings like the tower but inside, it can just be any other 3-star hotel. The rooms are not luxurious enough and I’ve stayed in better and bigger rooms without having to fork out hundreds of euros for it. Inside and outside it’s nothing special despite the luxe image that they want to create. If you know the Efteling in Holland, that’s what came to my mind when I saw this hotel up close.
Another thing that disappointed me was the service. The receptionist was very friendly but the breakfast staff does not speak other language but French and they don’t seem to understand anything you tell them. I hope they will train their staff to their better communication skills.
The breakfast was ordinary French and continental but they served that delicious Luxembourg’s pate that goes very well with any type of bread. Unlike in Chateau D’ Hassonville where you can fry or boil your own egg or squeeze your own orange juice, the juices at the breakfast were straight out of a can. Their only saving grace would probably be overflowing cremant brut which are so irresistable even at 9 in the morning. I also hope that they would open the breakfast buffet earlier – people on vacations can also be early risers, they can get hungry before 8:30 in the morning.
The best feature of the hotel is probably the free one hour use of their private spa. Because we stayed for two nights, we were able to try both the Mediterranean spa and the private sauna. The Mediterranean spa has a hammam which wasn’t hot enough for compared to the ones I had in Morocco and a jacuzzi which was very cold. If it had been summer, I would have stayed in that jacuzzi for the whole one hour.
We enjoyed the sauna more because of the massage bubble bath and it’s huge space. There was a small shower, a tanning machine, a sauna, a bubble massage bath and lounge chairs with magazines on the side. It was very romantic – complete with bath salt and candles and on an early morning after a night of consuming 3 bottles of wine, it was heaven. Those two hours that we’ve used the spas are the ones that I enjoyed the most during our two day stay.
Am I satisfied? Of course not, this hotel is not at all cheap and I felt that I should have gotten a much bigger and much nicer room. The spa experience and the friendly receptionist somehow made up for the other shortcomings. But I am definitely not coming back niether would I recommend it to anyone for that price, unless you want to spend hard-earned money to smell cow’s dung every waking hour.