As in early 2021 we were still confined to travel inside of our own country as the borders remained closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and regular bars and restaurants remained closed aswell, we opted for a weekend in a hotel in Belgium to enjoy some fine food and at least have a small get away from day to day life. In april we decided to spend a night at the Van der Valk Hotel Verviers as it offered a very interesting sleep and dine formula. With a 5-course meal including matching wines, a breakfast buffet and the option of adding a reasonably priced room with a jacuzzi it was a no brainer.
The Van der Valk hotel is located on the site of the former Verviers-Ouest terminus railway station, in the former customs warehouse (hence the name Entrepot for the hotel restaurant, the French word for warehouse).
The station first opened in 1843 along the Brussels to Germany line, as it’s location along the river bank meant that it was a dead-end station all trains had to turn directions in the station which was a time consuming process.
As a result a new through passenger station Verviers-Central was opened in 1920 a bit further south, eliminating the need for trains to be turned around and shaving a big chunk of travel time for train services. The Ouest railway station soldiered on as a goods only station until 1992 when it was finally closed, nowadays the site is filled with parking lots and a number of big box stores after a big redevelopment in 2005 and the hotel is the last remaining “original” building on the site.
We took a short walk through the city centre after our arrival, but it all looked a bit dilapidated and past its prime. It surely must have been a nice city in the past but there wasn’t a lot to see or do from a touristic point of view nowadays. If the city does a big refresh and clean-up it should however offer a lot of possibilities to become a nice destination, taking into account the stunning nature surrounding it. The most interesting thing we visited was the small Darcis chocolate museum right next door to the hotel, it’s a nice 1 hour visit with an interesting story and a delicious tasting experience.
The hotel itself was good however, right next to the entrance we could see the open-air swimming pool which looks to be a nice place to spend some time during the warmer months when it is opened.
At check-in we were greeted by the friendly staff explaining us everything about the stay, even trying to explain us things in Dutch when we were left a bit puzzled by some of the French explications.
To treat ourselves we booked a junior suite with a Jacuzzi pool. It was a spacious high-ceiling room, with a huge bed, two sofas and a dining table setup.
In the sleep and dine offer we booked the mini-bar, coffee and tea facilities as well as a bottle of Champagne (which was waiting for us in a cooler) was included in the roomrate. There were also bathrobes and slippers provided.
The toilet was separate from the bathroom, but lacked a sink to wash your hands which forces you to open two doors with ‘contaminated’ hands after doing your ‘business’ to be able to wash them. Also the toilet paper holder made it feel more like a public toilet rather than a private room one.
The bathroom contained a huge jacuzzi tub, producing a very nice bubbly bath. The tap however was located in a very odd location, making it difficult to fill the bath easily. The shower hose also didn’t have an option to mount it high up if you wanted to take a quick shower, since the bathroom also didn’t have a separate shower this could have been solved better.
In the bathroom there was also a single sink, but with plenty of space to put your stuff alongside. There where enough soft plushy towels available as well as more than enough toiletries (everything was there twice) and a number of other vanity items including two toothbrushes, so thumbs up for Van der Valk to provide it all.
In the evening the dinner was served in the room by room service. As we picked the 5-course menu we could pick two starters (one cold, one hot), one main and one dessert form the à la carte menu, while the kitchen added a special sorbet as the fifth course. The two starters and the main came with matching wines.
The only remark you could make was that the size of the main was relatively small, especially compared to the starters, Sam would have loved to have some more vegetables and croquettes on his plate as he was left a bit hungry.
While compared to our sleep and dine experience at the Sanglier des Ardennes in Durbuy everything was less fancy like and less attention to detail like table cloths and table setting, the overall service was actually functioning better.
All courses where paced at a good rhythm, no long waits but also not overly fast. The service also never forgot to put new cutlery for each course and where very good at clearing empty glasses. The service could not be faulted, it was perfectly executed.
In the morning breakfast could be fetched from the buffet, as we stayed over from Sunday to Monday it was really calm in the hotel and we had a rather corona proof experience at the buffet but I can imagine that on busier mornings it doesn’t feel that way. With the exception of the provision of disinfecting handgels and emptying the restaurant space to not provide any dining tables and chairs not much else was done as COVID countermeasures.
The complete buffet was available but unlike Chateau St. Gerlach the charcuterie and cheeses weren’t individually packaged. Even worse, to grab things from the buffet everyone had to use the same utensils. So COVID-wise the buffet presentation could be improved. On the other hand the buffet provided everything you could want and it were all tasty and good products.
All in all we had a good stay in Van der Valk Hotel Verviers, the staff was friendly and professional and everything was handled in a perfectly choreographed and executed way.
The rooms and hotel where in clean and good state. The only remark you could make is that it started to feel a bit dated as the design was clearly still the same as when it first opened back in the early 2000’s, compared to a newer Van der Valk hotel like the one we visited in Hoorn you can see that a refresh might be due in a few years.
But as with any stay with a Van der Valk hotel it was a very solid and dependable product, you get what your pay for and you can be sure to get good value for money, it’s always a safe bet to stay at one of their properties.
What is your opinion on staying at a Van der Valk hotel? Let us know in the comments below!