Martin’s Patershof – Belgium

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Located just twenty minutes outside of Brussels in the historic city of Mechelen lies Martin’s Patershof. This stunning building was once a church, and was transformed into a four-star hotel in the 2000s. The permit was applied for in 2006, and in 2009, the doors of the church were opened to travelers seeking a truly unique experience. And not only is the church – well, hotel, I suppose I should say, considering the building was deconsecrated – situated in a convenient and beautiful location, definitely worthy of a limousine service, it’s also absolutely steeped in history.

From around 1231, the church was inhabited by an order of Franciscan monks called the Friar Minors, and they stayed there and played a part in the local community until the end of the 18th century, when French revolutionaries, none too pleased with the Church or anyone involved in the institution, drove them out of the city. They were eventually permitted to re-enter the city, and, after some building, some requisitioning by the Germans in WWII, and yet more renovations, the monks sold the buildings in 1999. Thus, the story of the Martin’s Patershof hotel begins.

This hotel has so much to offer not only in terms of the building’s very impressive history, but also as far as its inherent beauty if concerned. Each of the five kinds of rooms offered provides a unique look at the beauty of the building’s architecture. The five types of rooms are: Cosy, Charming, Great, Exceptional, and Best of Home. Obviously I’m going to talk a little tiny bit about each one, because that’s why we’re all here. Also, I’m curious what constitutes a great room.

So first we’ve got the Cosy room, which, true to its name, is very cosy. They look to me like your basic hotel room, with the espresso machine and the mini bar and a little desk in the corner, except that some of them have carved pillars in the corners or protruding from the walls. So even in these “normal” rooms, you are still absolutely exposed to the history of the place. So, next up you’ve got the Charming rooms, which look a little bit bigger, with some authentic alcoves going on, and – the best part, I think – stained glass windows. Third, we’ve got the Great guest room. And great it looks. We’ve got arched ceilings and pillars or stained glass, and they’ve got a bubble bath. Always my favourite part of hotels when I was a kid.

Fourth, there’s the Exceptional guest room. There’s the arched ceiling, the religious detail or stained glass, the columns, the extra space. I guess whether you get the religious detailing or the stained glass depends on which unique room you get. Finally, the piece de resistence, The Best of Home. This room was installed just over the altar (which … I don’t know how much I’d be doing in that bed, just saying …), has tons of space, and most impressively, has stained glass windows in what looks like half the walls. I’ve included a picture, because I couldn’t not. It’s stunning. This room is the dream. Perhaps one day …