The fourth-largest city in the Netherlands offers a calmer experience than a city break in the country’s capital. It’s ideal as a relatively nearby stop-off, to complement time in Amsterdam, or as a getaway destination in its own right. Tree-lined canals provide that quintessentially Dutch experience, with plenty of waterside cafe culture and picturesque strolls/cycle rides (Utrecht is easily explored on foot or two wheels). The centre has a Medieval history with ancient monuments and museums, balanced with a modern lively social scene and superb shopping. And it’s home to some grand and quirky hotels.
Mother Goose Hotel Utrecht
The delightfully named Mother Goose is a unique design hotel in a property dating back to the 14th century that lies in the city’s historic heart. Housed in what were once Ubica buildings, the venue has been home to a chemist, a bookstore, a printer, a plumbing company, a bakery, a furniture maker, a mattress factory and squatters. Now reclaimed wood, exposed brick and stone walls, Scandi furnishings and industrial style lighting adorn the rooms, along with chic treats like Tribes coffee, organic Art of Tea and Marie-Stella-Maris toiletries. Guests staying here benefit from the use of a funky lounge and bikes on loan.
Grand Hotel Karel V
Encompassing part of the Teutonic Knights’ Bailiwick of Utrecht old monastery founded in 1348, the Grand Hotel Karel V is found in the Duitse Huis buildings. It’s named after its most famous guest, Emperor Karel V, who attended the meeting of The Order of The Golden Fleece here in 1543. A grand, five-star establishment, the hotel is surrounded by 10,000-square meters of landscaped gardens, making it a peaceful yet central retreat. The spa and wellness centre – with Puur by Kristel treatments – add to this sense of serenity, as does the elegant, classically decorated suites and the Karel V dining experience.