Sometimes you don’t have to travel half way across the world to discover some unique hidden gems. In this case we only had to travel 5 minutes from home for a super special accommodation. I knew the medieval Abbey of Rolduc from back in the day when we used to run the annual Abbey Cross running event here with our primary school. But after that I actually hadn’t visited this corner of the Netherlands for years, even though it’s only a 5 minute drive away.
We travel to every corner of our world for Traveltomtom, but now it was about time to explore our own backyard for a change and that is how we ended up staying in the Abbey of Rolduc.
The Abbey of Rolduc is located in the most beautiful part of the Netherlands, South Limburg. The Abbey itself is located by the German border. It’s literally a few footsteps from their doorstep until you reach Germany. This location is perfect if you also want to do some daytrips towards Germany or Belgium. Famous Dutch highlights like Maastricht and Valkenburg are just a half an hours drive away.
The fact that Kerkrade is located so close to Germany is not really a surprise if you go back in time a bit. Kerkrade was part of the German town Herzogenrath until the Congress of Vienna in 1815 drew the current Dutch-German border which lead to the separation of the towns. The eastern end of the city of Kerkrade marks the international border with Germany.
History Rolduc Abbey
The abbey of Rolduc dates back to 1104. Which makes it the oldest abbey in the Benelux. It is also the largest National Heritage Site in the Netherlands.
The Abbey of Rolduc functioned as an abbey from 1104 until 1797. The abbey was then called ‘Kloosterrade’, which later became ’s Hertogenrade. In French that is Rode-le-Duc or indeed Rolduc. During the 12th and 13th century the abbey flourished. Several communities were founded by Kloosterrade. In 1250 the abbey owned more than 3,000 hectares of land.
During the 14th, 15th and 16th Centuries times were a lot harder for the Abbey. The buildings were heavily damaged during the Eighty Years War. The abbey began to prosper again in the late 17th Century, when revenue was generated from the exploitation of coal mines. Around 1775 Rolduc employed 350 miners.
From 1830 until 1970 Rolduc became the Catholic education center of the Netherlands. During this period it was also a boarding school. In 1970 it became the hotel and conference center it still is today.
The major seminary of the Diocese of Roermond is nowadays located in Rolduc. Currently there are still 30 students in training to become priests, mostly foreign students.
Funny fact: Tom, founder of Traveltomtom, studied during high school at College Rolduc. Yes, located in Rolduc Abbey!
Comfort Room - Rolduc Abbey Hotel
Rolduc Abbey Hotel offers room types for everyone and every budget. Their most accessible and affordable rooms are the economy room type, which include shared bathrooms. These room types are often used by hikers who do longer distance trails.
Their comfort rooms offer, obviously, more comfort. These rooms offer private bathrooms, comfortable beds and a flatscreen television. We had one of their comfort rooms and it was basic but perfect.
The views from our room were the best. We overlooked an inner courtyard surrounded by some old parts of the abbey, fantastic!
The doors to the rooms open with an actual key. So if you don’t lock it from the inside, it’s just open to everyone passing by on the corridors. So whenever you’re in your room, make sure to lock it from the inside, otherwise people can just randomly come in.
A stay does not include breakfast as standard. But make sure you book this as the breakfast is really delicious. A wide range of choices from fresh and local products.
Brasserie the Kanunnik
We highly recommend enjoying at least one lunch or dinner at this brasserie. We have been lucky enough to eat here a few times during our stay, and every time it was simply delicious.
Their meals are prepared with seasonal products from the region and with herbs from their very own herb garden. It's not a big restaurant, but that enhances the atmosphere. Personal service and attention.
A big shout out from our end to Ron, head of service of Brasserie the Kanunnik. What a great host he is! He is super hospitable and has a lot of personal attention for all his guests. That applies to all employees by the way. Due to the limited number of seats, you must make a reservation in advance via reception. Dinner can’t be guaranteed without a booking.
Hotel Bar ‘In de Verloren Zoon’
We have already seen quite a few hotel bars, but this one is at the top of the list of the most special hotel bars we have ever seen. The hotel bar is called ‘In de Verloren Zoon’ and is located in the basement of the hotel. Actually before becoming a hotelbar this area was used as a wine cellar.
It's the perfect place to go for a drink after dinner and to end the day on a high.
Historical Guided Abbey Tour
If you have the time to fit in this Historical Guided Tour of the Abbey, then I would really recommend to do that. Staying at the abbey is super special.
But this guided tour gives so much additional information and gets you to places you wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit.
A guide takes you on a 1.5 hour guided tour of the abbey and tells you all about its impressive history.
The highlights of this guided tour to us are the visit to the Rolduc Abbey Library.
And the other highlight was visiting the former Bishop’s Hall.
Guided tours of Abbey Rolduc are available on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Walking and cycling
Rolduc Abbey Hotel is the perfect base for your walking or cycling route. Many walking and cycling routes start and end at the abbey or just minutes away from it. Rolduc Abbey is also part of the Hertog Limburg Pad and the Abdijwijnpad.
They are even an ANWB bicycle service point. Which means that they provide a free bicycle service box where you can carry out simple repairs to your bike yourself. There is also a bike charging point and you can safely and easily store your bike in their locked bike shed.
Escape Room Kerkrade
Located in one of the side-buildings of the abbey is Escape Room Kerkrade. Escape Rooms have become very popular over the past few years. Being part of the Abbey of Rolduc, we simply had to test and experience one of their rooms.
All of their rooms are decorated to the medieval theme of the Abbey. I think that is pretty cool. Also the theme of the rooms are inspired by the Abbey. They have a total of 4 escape rooms for up to 14 people.
We got to do their smallest room for 2-4 people. They offer several packages, also combined with the hotel or the brewery. So make sure to check out these guys.
It's a local company ran by two brothers who do an amazing job. We haven’t done many escape rooms, but we enjoyed this one to the fullest. And that, even though we unfortunately, did not escape. In our defense though, I must add that we were really only 3 minutes away from escaping.
Rolduc Brewery is the result of three passionate men with a common hobby and a shared love for beer. When you walk into their tasting room, it feels like walking in to their mancave that got out of hand a little. The atmosphere here is personal, amicable and just extremely relaxed.
The brewery is located on the ancient Abbey complex of Rolduc. Just like their beers, a place full of history, modern activity and therefor timeless. The Abbey of Rolduc was a completely self-sufficient village in which a beer brewery could not be missed. The brewery dates back to the 10th Century, but has burned down several times over the centuries and has not been put back into operation after the last fire, around 1750. That was until 2013 when a father, a son and a son in law decided to take their hobby of brewing beer to the next level. They now own Rolduc Brewery with a fantastic tasting room and are available in the major local supermarkets.
It was a cold and rainy Sunday in March when we visited the brewery. And fair enough, it’s located quite a bit remote. But the tasting room was full of people enjoying a nice beer on a Sunday. I was surprised by the number of people that kept turning up here. This place is absolutely worth a visit, even if you don’t stay at the hotel. Wim, Wiel and Elmar, thank you for your hospitality!
A stay at the hotel can be perfectly combined with a visit to the theater in Kerkrade. We actually combined our stay at Rolduc with a stand-up comedy show at the theater.
The theater is small with only one theater room, but it’s my favorite theater in South Limburg to visit. The fact that it is such a small and cozy theater is exactly its strength.
Great parking opportunities right next door and located in the center of Kerkrade, where you can find some of the best restaurants and bars. The theater is just a short 4 minute drive or 15 minute walk from the hotel.
Maybe the nr.1 thing to do and visit in Kerkrade is GaiaZOO. The Zoo was opened in 2005 and is named after Gaia, the goddess of the Earth.
It is a very pleasant zoo to visit, especially because of all the trees and plants throughout the park.
The zoo is divided into four themes, called Savanna, Taiga, Rainforest and Limburg. In addition, there is also an indoor playground called DinoDome. Over the past few years the zoo has won the award for best outing in the Netherlands several times. They have also been voted the best zoo in the Netherlands multiple times. GaiaZOO is just a short 6 minute drive away from the hotel.
Rolduc Abbey Hotel, Escape Room Kerkrade and the Rolduc Brewery have surprised and amazed us in every possible way. Our stay here exceeded all our expectations.
Abdij Hotel Rolduc may be known as a 3-star hotel, we had a 5-star stay here. Their guest service and attention are out of this world!
It's a fantastic hotel in the most amazing medieval building you can think of. The surrounding area is beautiful and invites you to just go out and enjoy nature. You don’t get to visit an old monastery every day. We highly recommend this place.
A series of massive thanks is in order here. Firstly to Rolduc Abbey Hotel for having us and letting us experience your amazing medieval abbey to the fullest.
Also we would like to thank Escape Room Kerkrade for hosting us in one of their fantastic escape rooms. Last but definitely not least, we would like to express a big thank you to Rolduc Brewery for a wonderful afternoon at their brewery and tasting room.
This blog was written by travel writer and Traveltomtom team member Ashley. She stayed at the medieval Rolduc Abbey in the Netherlands, on behalf of Traveltomtom, and wrote this blog about her experiences.
Enjoy your trip to Kerkrade!