Sunset on the river in Maastricht

It's a little train that's soon departing...

Dreaming of Friday afternoon, everyone does it! And dreaming of Friday afternoon when I've planned a trip to Maastricht? Oh how the time seems to be dragging! After work, I'm meeting my sister on the train. And that's when the real wind-down begins. One connection at Liège-Guillemins is all that is separating us from our destination. Walking through this magnificent station is really quite pleasant. We immediately agree that this feat of architecture by Santiago Calatrava must be one of the most beautiful in our country. But we must put a move on, the Limburg express beckons us.

Welcome to Hôtel Kaboom

Looking for the hotel? It's really simple! We're getting off the train at Maastricht and the hotel is located right outside the station. We thought that with a name like "Hotel Kaboom" this would be somewhere a little different. And our suspicions have been confirmed. While registering the room we order an iced fruit tea and admire the paintings adorning the walls and doors of the lift. A smile appears on our face when we discover that we could actually hire a stick insect to keep us company during our stay. Crazy!

Excuse me? Train tickets cost half from Friday evening to Sunday? Yes, I want to profit!

Decoration of a hotel room in a traditional yet modern Dutch style
Our beds are comfortable and we can barely contain our smiles as we examine the interesting wallpaper on the walls and ceiling. After briefly exploring the sites, it's time to go into town. We are curious what we may find...

Address: Kaboom Hotel, Stationsplein 1

Warmly congratulated: the service is on fire

It's cold, but it really doesn't matter. The shining lights lead us along the River Meuse as far as Vrijthof, which warms our spirits. We briefly consult Google Maps, as we have booked a table at the Brandweerkantine (or the 'Fire Brigade Canteen'). We find the right road and our eyes nearly pop out again: We'd never have thought that barracks could be quite so comfortable.
The industrial interior of the Fire Brigade Canteen
The room simultaneously exudes spaciousness, convenience and comfort. These are all the extras that make the setting unique. For example, we find an "artwork vending machine", plants which move, a giant cardboard ostrich complete with rider, and the entire left-hand wall has been transformed into a "shared library". The bar, which is full of light, panoramic views and greenery, is the jewel in the crown. And we haven't even mentioned the food! The menu featuring seasonal vegetables will certainly appeal to vegetarians.

When we climb into our comfortable Auping bed back at the hotel, we ask ourselves to what extent red beetroot and parsnip are good for us. Obviously extremely healthy as a quick internet search reveals.

Address: De Brandweerkantine, Capucijnenstraat 21

Sustainable shower and breakfast

The Kaboom Hotel proudly displays the Planet Care certificate. LED lights, ecological cleaning products, a special filter in the showerhead... are just a few examples of more than 50 specific points attended to by the hotel. Guests are also requested to make their own contribution, for example by re-using towels or by taking a shower together. We don't take up the latter suggestion, but it's a good idea for a romantic weekend;) Freshened up and with a plan in mind, we set off for a stroll through Maastricht by day.
The warm atmosphere of a bagel bar
For breakfast we go to Bagels & Beans, a chain of restaurants that has branches throughout the Netherlands and which is one of my favourites. The menu, full of stars, squares and bubbles, informs us that many products come from fair trade, ecological and organic sources. Great! We discover that there are also plenty of vegan options. So you can opt for soya yogurt or request a flat white with almond milk. I couldn't think of a better way to start the day!

Address: Bagels&Beans, Wycker Brugstraat 31

From hell to paradise

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwebasiliek on a cloudy day

The crème de la crème of trips in Belgium? Show me the weekly best of activities!

Even if it is raining cats and dogs, we don't allow it to spoil our pleasure. The streets enchant us with their charm, and the ever-present cobblestones lead us to Onze-Lieve-Vrouwebasiliek in Helpoort (which dates back to 1229!). We pass through the old city gate, through the park and then return to the city centre hoping to find a dry spot somewhere.
People reading books in an antique book shop
Our oasis of heat and dry climate is a veritable haven of peace. At the Boekhandel Dominicanen book shop, we just don't know where to begin. It's without doubt the hot topic of this city break! The majestic church offers shelter to a vast stock of books, all ready to be discovered as we take our time to browse the shelves. After more than an hour of weighing up which ones to buy, we leave this bookworm's paradise with the spoils of time well spent.

Address: Boekhandel Dominicanen, Dominikanerkerkstraat 1

Responsible lunch and shopping

A simple veggie sandwich and bagel in Café Zondag
We find a table at Café Zondag. Our gaze encompasses the space. On one wall there hangs a golden wolf's head, its tongue hanging out, and on the other side a hanging array of colourful cutlery and kitchen utensils. Here too you will find non-alcoholic organic and fair trade drinks on the menu! My sister orders a matcha iced tea. The bagel and panini are delicious. Our taste buds agree... Mmmmh!

Address: Café Zondag, Wycker Brugstraat 42

A woman shopping for original sweaters
After lunch, we decide to set off on a responsible shopping trip. The We-ar second-hand clothes shop has two outlets in the city. The shop quickly draws us in with an excellent range of pullovers. A bit further on, we arrive at the Magnolia Thrift Store, where a wide range of vintage clothes and curiosities await us. This walk then leads us to Retro & Chic. In terms of decorative appeal, there's no doubt it's one of the most beautiful vintage boutiques that we have ever visited. This shop exudes luxury and the extensive array of shoes and jewellery is like a dream for us... Finally, we also drop into Ecolinea. It's not really my style but only products from sustainable brands are sold here. And that's definitely worth our support!
  • We-ar, Rechtstraat 52 // Achter het Vleeshuis 33
  • Magnolia Thrift Store, Rechtstraat 72
  • Retro&Chic, Heggenstraat 1
  • Ecolinea, Platielstraat 10

Even the most beautiful songs must come to an end

Before returning home, we treat ourselves to a well-earned break at Piece of Cake. We are lucky enough to find that there's still a table available as there seems to be a lot of people in here. And it's not hard to understand why! Our eyes widen as we stare at the cake counter. The tasty cup cakes and the tempting tarts bring smiles to people's faces. My sister decides on a piece of vanilla cheesecake and I decide to try the chocolate-chilli tart. What a treat!

Address: Piece of Cake, Boschstraat 60

A variety of cupcakes on the bar of Piece of Cake
Returning to the hotel, we realise that Maastricht is the ideal destination for a city break. Easily accessible by train and still in another country sufficient to make you feel like you are completely on holiday. Furthermore, the location of the hotel is very practical: we have been able to leave our luggage there all day. We haven't needed to hurry for the return journey, as the train station is virtually on the doorstep... Ah, if only everything could be so simple...