July 2021. A week after my Eindhoven escapade featuring the DAF Museum and a night at Hotel Mariënhage, I travelled to Utrecht for a culinary weekend with Steve. At that time, the Netherlands were very liberal concerning coronavirus countermeasures. That was both concerning and liberating at the time.
When I was looking for a place to have a culinary weekend in the Netherlands with Steve, I looked at LuxuryHotelCompany. It offers arrangementen or deals. Usually a night or two combined with dinner or a wellness session. The Dutch love, love, love arrangementen. They love coupons and everything which oozes discount.
Our eye fell on the Carlton President Utrecht Maarssen.
I’m telling you this because prior to our escapade, I received several emails offering upsales “to make the weekend more enjoyable”. Nice offers, I guess, but our arrangement was already comprehensive.
- A room upgrade.
- A four-course dinner for two.
- A bottle of wine.
- A snack when ordering an apéritif.
- Free use of robe and slippers.
- Fee use of the minibar.
- Maybe some more things.
I suppose the automatic email doesn’t take into account existing deals.
The Carlton President is made for seminars, congresses and symposia. As often in the Netherlands, it’s located outside the city centre, in a (light) industrial area. We had the same with Van der Valk Hotel Hoorn, for instance.
The website is candid about it. “Recharge your batteries in our house full of stories, people and ideas. Our story starts with your wishes. Using influences from nature and the city, Carlton President creates an environment that triggers encounters and the exchange of ideas. We can help you get the most out of your working day – we offer healthy food, free flex workplaces and meeting places, attractive conference rooms and luxury hotel rooms. We have thought of your every need. At the end of the day good ideas make the world a better place! We look forward to welcoming you to Carlton President, the most central meeting place in the Netherlands.”
Real estate is cheaper and it’s practical for people coming by car or coach. There’s a U-OV (Utrecht Openbaar Vervoer) bus stop nearby.
From the outside, the hotel looks very 90s. A pyramid, room wings with terraces not unlike American motels you see in Hollywood films and a parking lot. There’s a bar-restaurant terrace but there’s no hiding it’s on a parking lot.
Mishmash of colours
Another typical Dutch feature is the mishmash of colours used. Inside there’s beige, brown, copper (brass), tennis gravel orange, red, several shades of blue and several shades of green.
The carpet in the hallway looks like a road-like carpet you’d buy for your child to play on with toy cars.
It’s a bit much. It’s so Dutch.
Being a seminar-oriented hotel, Carlton President offers an array of facilities. Jeu de boules sets, bicycles, motorbikes, board games, a snooker room, a library, a gym and wellness area featuring a Turkish bath, a sauna and a huge jacuzzi.
As coronavirus countermeasure, the wellness area had to be booked for private use. That’s fun. Yes it cost extra – 29,50 euros if I remember well – bit at least we could be naked. Which the attendant stressed we could. Did she expect us to be naughty boys?
We weren’t, but it’s fun to be in a jacuzzi or swimming pool naked.
Other facilities include meeting rooms, an auditorium, coffee break areas and seats laid out for private conversations.
The room is nice and includes everything you need. A big bed, coffee and tea making facilities, a minibar, plenty of power outlet and usb charger outlets, a tv. The shower and sink are separate from the toilet.
That’s always nice.
Again there’s a mishmash of colours and styles in the room. Can someone explain that carpet?
The bathroom and toilet are in ‘London tube station’ style which works but again clashes with the rest of the room.
The room has a terrace with garden view. But the garden is mostly dear to hide the neighbouring motorway.
But still, colour palette aside, the room is a nice place.
The hotel restaurant is named One24. We first had some drinks and the included snack and we ordered some more drinks. The restaurant consists of an inside area, a greenhouse area and an outside area. The weather was too threatening for outside so we sat in the greenhouse.
The staff was very amicable and competent. We could stay were we sat for the drinks and for dinner and of we wanted to start dinner before our 7PM reservation, that was no problem.
One24 doesn’t have a set menu so for our four course meal, we had the mezze plate of assorted snack and we could choose a starter, a main and a dessert from the menu.
Without being haute cuisine, the dinner was enjoyable. The included bottle of wine was unspectacular.
Two cocktails each and a bottle of wine for two made us drunk so we retired to our chambers quite early.
We were asked to book a breakfast slot. Even if at that time the Netherlands were very liberal with their COVID-19 countermeasures, some still applied. Distancing meant only eight people were allowed in the buffet area, excluding staff.
The breakfast offering consisted of expected items:
- Bread, bread rolls, croissants.
- English breakfast items such as eggs in different styles, sausages, bacon.
- Cold cuts.
- Fruit and vegetables.
- Jams and preserves.
- Dutch niceties such as hagelslag (sprinkles) and muisjes (the colourful sprunkles).
- Coffee and tea. Fir some reason, it wasn’t self service. A couple of twinks came for your order.
So without being spectacular the breakfast was comprehensive. If you would stay a night or three for a seminar, the offering is diverse enough not to have to eat the same items every morning.
I may have been harsh on style and Dutchness. Dutch hotels are often nice but it always lacks that x-factor to be truly gezellig (cosy, charming).
Staff, service and the facilities are good though. We had a good time.
More hotels in the Netherlands
- Van der Valk Hoorn.
- Hotel Mariënhage in Eindhoven.
- Hotel Des Indes in The Hague.
- Prinsenhof Groningen.
- Chateau St. Gerlach.
- Holiday Inn Express Amsterdam – Schiphol.
- Crowne Plaza Den Haag Promenade.
- Hilton The Hague.