I’m sure regular readers of Together will have heard about the country’s finest outlet shopping village in the border town of Maasmechelen. You’ll be pleased to hear, then, that there’s a new place to rest your weary legs and indulge yourself yet further after a hard day’s retail therapy.
The Terhills hotel has only been open for less than three months but the reputation and the inclusion of a ready-made, Michelin-starred restaurant have seen guest numbers building steadily. If you’re planning a pre-season shopping trip, or even a pre-Christmas one, you’d do well to book now – it’s going to fill up fast when the word gets out.
Terhills is a little different from usual hotels but not in an attempt to be terribly hip, nor as a money saving exercise. Opting for a policy of understated service and comfort, the focus is on keeping the customer satisfied. We walked into the main entrance and headed straight for reception. There wasn’t one. However, within seconds one of the hotel staff was there. He took our names, showed us to the tastefully designed waiting area and offered us a glass of Cava, which we thought would be rude to refuse. Our keys were ready around a minute later and we were told to take as long as we liked finishing our bubbles.
The room was bright and airy, fitted to a very good standard and the bed was a good size and comfortable. The rainfall shower is something you’ll be reluctant to get out of once you’re in – another touch of simple luxury.
The restaurant represents not only a bold move by Michelin-starred chef Danny Vanderhoven but a life-changing decision. He decided to run the DNY Restaurant in the Terhills as a separate venture but as the popularity of the restaurant increased with clients from the hotel and outside, he took the decision to focus entirely on bringing his (and his wife Ineke’s) brand of Michelin-starred food, casual yet exemplary service and dare I say it, fun, to the hotel exclusively, closing the doors on his own place.
If the food is anything to go by, they made the right decision to bring it to a bigger audience. While all the dishes we tried were superb, the opener, a veal carpaccio with crab meat, cucumber and green apple sauce was not only the best meal of the evening but quite honestly one of the best plates I’ve eaten this year.
So, in the space of a square kilometre, you have a wonderful hotel, a sublime restaurant and designer shopping. In case that wasn’t enough, try a walk around some of the pre-prepared routes in the 5,000 hectares of the Hoge Kempen National Park, situated right next door to the hotel.
Maasmechelen is a classic example of old mining village reborn. Go and unearth some of its pleasures for yourself.