Dutch city turns churches into a luxury experience

It has been a while since I’ve enjoyed going to church so much.

As a lapsed Catholic I tend to keep my church attendances to Christmas and, if I’m feeling quite a lot of guilt, Easter. However, I would happily go to “church” at Maastricht’s Kruisherenhotel on a daily basis.

A former gothic church and monastery dating from the 15th century, the buildings have been beautifully renovated to welcome disciples of a new kind of religion — luxury.

Boasting 60 rooms, dazzling but sympathetic light installations and a mezzanine restaurant and accompanying womb-like wine bar in the church’s nave, it’s easy to be quickly converted.

The food is also pretty good; my fish and scallops starter followed by venison the perfect communion for a late autumn evening…

The religious theme continues on the left bank at Selexyz Dominicanen — yet another church that has been converted, this time into a fabulous English- and Dutch-language book store…

It now features a three-story black steel bookstack in the high nave, together with a noisy cafe in the choir. If it sounds like desecration, you couldn’t be more wrong. It is a book and architecture lover’s heaven on Earth.

As proud locals tell my wife and me, there are plenty of empty churches in the area that could do with a similar makeover.

Given the tendency for interesting, albeit often traditional architecture, it’s nice to see disused churches brought to productivity.

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