Two kingdoms and one duchy: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are more than just three small states between the North Sea, Germany and France. They share a common culture and look back on a Golden Age together. Between 1550 and 1700, magnificent town houses, canals, windmills, pictures and palaces were created. Some landscapes and cities still look like Rembrandt painted them almost 400 years ago.
This tour can also be done by train. If you have more time, London and/or Paris are easy add/ons.
This trip will be customized according to your wishes.
Rental car pick-up
Broker: Sunny Cars GmbH
Vehicle: Seat Leon or similar (CDMR)
Location: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (Desk at Airport)
The harbour town on the Schelde has a history dating back to the early Middle Ages. Antwerp is a pearl of architecture.
Thousands of diamond traders, cutters and polishers have settled in the centrally located, centuries-old diamond quarter. The best example of typical Antwerp architecture in the Flemish Renaissance style is the Grote Markt in the centre of the old town. In the 17th century Rubens House you can visit historically furnished rooms with works of art by the Flemish baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens.
The well-kept B&B of Linda and Daniel is situated in a quiet suburb of Antwerp, about three kilometres from the centre.
The four rooms of the house are individually furnished in a tasteful, homely style, which represents a successful mixture of old furniture and modern comfort. The owners, who speak German and English, put their heart and soul into running the business and spoil their guests endlessly – starting with a rich Breakfast with many fresh and homemade products, rounded off by an attentive service. The common lounge is also inviting, where you can make yourself comfortable after a strenuous day. The centre can be reached in a few minutes by public transport, with a stop nearby.
The Flemish metropolis is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It owes its importance to a storm surge that tore a navigation channel right through to the North Sea.
In addition to the hanseatic dealers from Genoa, Venice and Florence, as well as from southern Germany in the 13th Century, Castile, Portugal and Scotland belonged to the regular visitors of the city. A stock exchange building (possibly the first in the world) opened in the house of a merchant family Van der Beurse; the term “stock market” (Börse) is believed to originate from this surname. After prospering in the high Middle Ages, the city came under Spanish rule and became impoverished, hence the historical buildings were preserved. Only towards the end of the 19th century Romantics discovered the unique charm of the city, with its canals and channels. Around the city are medieval ramparts, on which windmills stand.
Already in the Middle Ages the house accommodated pilgrims and other poor travellers in a quiet side street near the market place.
After its thorough redesign, it only has three guest rooms now, which are all the more comfortable. The whole building, overlooking the old roofs of Bruges, is a mixture of old and new, full of character. In the morning Julie serves her guests a hearty Breakfast in the living and dining room; in summer you can also enjoy it in the courtyard. Numerous sights of the city are within walking distance, as well as cafés and restaurants.
The Grand Duchy is the last of its kind of once twelve in Europe. Today Luxembourg (from “Lützelburg” = “small castle”) is an independent state, although with only 2,500 square kilometres and just over 500,000 inhabitants it is one of the smallest in the world.
This played an important role in the European unification process. Luxembourg is the administrative centre of the European Union, the seat of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and other institutions. The mother tongue of the Luxembourgers is Luxembourgish (“Lëtzebuergesch”), a Mosel-Franconian idiom that was regarded as a purely High German dialect until the 20th century. It was not until 1984 that it became the independent national language and co-official language of the country (alongside French and German).
This charming hotel is located in a quiet but central location near the Parc des Trois Glands in Luxembourg. The tasteful rooms have wooden floors and are individually furnished in an elegant colonial style.
A lovingly prepared Breakfast with fresh baked goods, muesli, fruit, egg dishes and other ingredients is served in the small Breakfast room with a cosy ambience at the table. When the weather is fine, the well-kept garden area with terrace invites you to linger. The Museum of Modern Art and the Musée Dräi Eechelen are located in the park; the city centre can be reached in a few minutes.
Founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago, Cologne is Germany's second oldest city. The city marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire and was therefore of great strategic and military importance to the Romans.
For many centuries now it has been a leading trading and transportation hub due to its location along the Rhine River. Cologne became one of the focal points of Western culture during the Middle Ages when, under the rule of Friedrich II, the relics of the Three Wise Men were brought to Cologne in 1164 after being captured from Milan. Cologne Cathedral, one of the most magnificent structures north of the Alps, was built to house these relics, although construction wasn't completed until 600 years later. Today the landmark is the emblem of Cologne and is also a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. The old town facing the Rhine together with the city boasting 12 Romanesque churches among its numerous other historical sites creates a unique ensemble and Cologne is also known as the center of the German Mardi Gras celebrations that peak during the carnival period.
In the heart of Cologne's Old Town, just minutes from the Cathedral, the Rhine River and the main shopping streets and as part of one of Cologne's oldest family breweries, this hotel is a very special address.
The 37 rooms are modern and well designed – some with Cathedral views and their own beer on tap. The brewery has lots of character with the Köbesse (traditionally rude waiting staff) serving authentic Cologne cuisine and amazing views of the Dom and the City. One of Cologne's best known bands – Die Höhner – shows off memorabilia of 40 years of band history over two floors.
The route leads through the heavily populated Rhine-Ruhr region north of Cologne, Gemany's industrial heartland during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The landscape increasingly flattens out as you follow the course of the Rhine River to the border just south of Arnhem, then cross the Dutch lowlands to Amsterdam. Heavy traffic is likely to be encountered between Cologne and Duisburg in Germany, and between Utrecht and Amsterdam during the latter part of the trip.
Rental car drop-off
Location: Amsterdam (Railway Station)
The North Sea metropolis is extremely liberal even for European standards, and curious tourists flock to its (in)famous red light district, its erotic theatres and its euphemistically named “coffee shops.” Indeed, the number of visitors entering the red light district merely to look and not conduct business has resulted in a severe decline in brothels in recent years.
The city's liberal roots lie in its location at the gates to Europe, which has always made it home to countless foreigners from all over the world, and in the importance of foreign trade to the local economy. Amsterdam was born when a dam was built in the River Amstel (“Amstel Dam”) around the 11th century. The Dam remains the heart of the Old Town today, which fans out from the Central Train Station in a series of concentric canals designed in the 17th century. The city's main sights besides those referred to above include the Anne Frank Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum (national museum).
The small luxury hotel was built in 1618 during what is aptly known as the “Golden Age” in Amsterdam. The patrician townhouse was built by a trader of spices from the Far East and, judging by its opulant furnishings, business was good. The historical property served as the home of the Dutch Prime Minister in the 1880s, then became part of a university before being acquired by its current owners in 1968 and converted into an exclusive hotel in 1983. A recent rennovation was overseen by Wim van de Oudeweetering, one of Holland's premier interior designers.
In 2008 the facility was designated a “Hidden Treasure,” a prestigious award bestowed by the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board. The hotel “known only to the happy few” was praised by the Board for the unique design of each of its 38 bedrooms, its “incomparable ambience with strikingly beautiful details,” and its “top-level hospitality.” Add to this the location in the very centre of Old Amsterdam, just a few minutes' walk from the Dam Square, and it's easy to see why this hotel is considered a “Hidden Treasure.”