It was amateur time at the four-star Castle Bloemendal and Teko was not amused.
Pictures tend to mask reality but when we arrived at our accommodation in Vaals, the castle looked pretty impressive, at least from the driveway. Remembering the different U.K. and French castles and estates we’ve been lucky to stay in, the ones we’ve been to so far in the Netherlands placed a far third in many ways, but this one in South Limburg seemed different, larger and more stately. Checking in was nearly seamless and the room we were given adequate. It didn’t take long, however, before challenges started popping up.
Calling the restaurant to see about a table for dinner or the engineering department about a faulty TV signal, or calling for anything at all, meant reaching the front desk each time, which then meant all calls were answered after several rings only to be put on hold so they could check something first, and then told they’d have to call us back when it was ‘less busy at the front desk’. When we were told on the first night that their restaurant was booked solid – these things can happen of course but then it happened for all three nights we were there – they made a u-turn and said they’d call us back only to confirm what was said earlier. When we looked at the in-room food menu and thought of just ordering room service, we called again only to be told that the menu isn’t really updated, that we could check the right menu in the reception desk but that it would probably take some time to get our food anyway because it was so busy. Why the room service menu isn’t updated and why we had to pick up the menu ourselves rather than be offered to have someone send it to us is anyone’s guess – we didn’t bother to ask. It also made me wonder, apart from the dark stains on the brown carpet and the flickering lights in the bathroom, what else in the room likely needed refreshing. Teko absolutely hated the bed which because of the mattress pad felt concave, and the temperature gauge in the room – aka ‘not the air conditioner’ – didn’t appear to work such that we ended up having the balcony door open all night, a security risk that kept nagging at my anxiety up until my body couldn’t help but fall asleep much later in the evening. For a basic room I did find the space generous, and bathroom nicely modern and more my style, though Teko rightly complained that his tall frame couldn’t fit the oddly-framed toilet. He did get his bath, which I hope soothed his nerves especially after only three hours’ sleep the first night.
It did get better on the second and third nights when we were able to adjust to the kinks and quirks of the hotel, potential balcony burglars notwithstanding, and spent most of our waking hours out playing tourist. Breakfast in the attractive dining room was unimaginative but substantial, and the room service food, once we were able to get the real menu, was much better and more satisfying than expected. Given what it cost, the castle I thought was just fine for what we received. Though given the chance I’m sure Teko would propose differently.