Château St. Gerlach exterior.
Photo: Courtesy of Chateau St. Gerlach

The Ultimate Art Insider’s Guide to Maastricht

We asked art and design insiders for their go-to hotels, restaurants, bars, and boutiques when in town for TEFAF

Every March, well-heeled collectors and art connoisseurs from all over the world descend on the charming town of Maastricht, the southernmost city in the Netherlands, for the prestigious European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). As always, the ten-day affair held at the Maastricht Exhibition & Conference Centre presents the best in Old Masters, antiquities, ethnographic objects, design, jewelry, and furnishings. Out of this year’s 279 exhibitors, 40 are new to the fair, with an exciting spotlight on modern and contemporary art. In the Modern section, expect to find 13 new exhibitors participating, a number of whom plan to present single-artist stands. Outside the fair, the picturesque city is distinguished for its medieval-era architecture, cobbled streets, and lively cultural scene. In preparation for the fair’s 32nd edition, we asked a handful of in-the-know exhibitors and design talents for their tips on what to do and see, and where to stay, eat, sleep, and shop.

The Dutch Hotel Maastricht. Photo: Courtesy of The Dutch

Laura Kugel
Project manager, Galerie J. Kugel
“Recently I’ve stayed at The Dutch—it’s fun and more relaxed than some of the other hotels and is located in the Wyck District right in the center of town. My top pick for a restaurant is always Café Sjiek, where I spend many evenings during the fair. I love the bistro atmosphere—it’s always packed, and since there are no reservations, small groups stand waiting around the terrazzo-topped communal table drinking and eating oysters. Drinks-wise, it’s an old-fashioned at the Kruisherenhotel, a former monastery and 15th-century Gothic church. Don’t miss out on the Treasury at the Basilica of St. Servaas, which houses beautiful medieval artworks. I’m also looking forward to visiting the exhibition on David Lynch at the Bonnefanten Museum.

Interior of Axel Vervoodt’s Kanaal. Photo: Rich Stapleton

Yasmin and Christian Hemmerle 
Directors, Hemmerle 
“We‘ve been exhibiting at TEFAF Maastricht for over 20 years. Now, we always stay at Château St. Gerlach, located on the edge of the Ingendael nature reserve, just outside Maastricht city center. Being surrounded by nature and waking up to walk in its beautifully landscaped Baroque gardens before heading to the fair is the best start to a busy day. When the spring flowers are in bloom, it gives you a lasting tranquil feeling. The Michelin-starred restaurant Beluga, on the banks of the Meuse River, is the best place to go for creative cuisine that is modern and experimental. For shopping, fashion boutique Kiki Niesten has a fantastic edit of international designers. Mediterraneo is a superb Italian restaurant with fresh dishes packed with flavor. Axel Vervoordt’s Kanaal is an ambitious cultural and residential project that successfully combines art, architecture, and nature. It’s about an hour and half drive from Maastricht but well worth the trip.”

Basilica of St. Servaas in Vrijthof Square. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Martin Clist
Managing director, Charles Ede Ltd.
“Old Maastricht is very atmospheric, and the cathedral is a must-visit along with its treasury. Take a walk around the Old Town’s narrow streets, and you’ll arrive at the larger squares. Have a drink at one of the small cafés that line the Onze Lieve Vrouweplein. Visit the lovely shadowy church and watch the candles being lit by the visitors. Café Sjiek is my favorite place go. It’s incredibly noisy and busy, but the staff are beyond friendly—it’s like nothing else in the world. Once I have a glass of cold Saint-Véran, a dozen oysters, and maybe some Dover sole, one feels everything is all right with the world. Be prepared to wait, though!”

Street view of Chocolaterie Boulanger. Photo: Courtesy of Chocolaterie Boulanger

Alexandra Toscano
Director, Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art
“One fashion store I never fail to visit is MaxMara. They are so welcoming—you get a coffee and a biscuit, and in March, they hold a winter sale, so there are real bargains to be had. I have a standing date with a friend from Sotheby’s for an annual shopping fix. Maastricht’s finest chocolate shop is definitely Chocolaterie Boulanger. Their dark chocolate is simply the best and just the ticket for when your sugar level drops during the day. We are always known to have a bar or two tucked away in a drawer!”

A period room in the Bosch Brewery. Photo: Courtesy of Bosch Brewery

Peter Schaffer and Adam Patrick
Director and manager, A La Vieille Russie 
“Just for fun, the Bosch Brewery is the last intact brewery in the city of Maastricht and is a glimpse into what, not so long ago, was part of the industrial fabric of the community. Founded in 1758, the brewery’s tour visits the historic malting house and brewer’s house with period interiors, then stops at the taproom to sample some of the beers based on historic recipes that will soon be available from their own microbrewery. The perfect place to linger with good company over good food is Pakhoes. Located near the river, it offers an intimate experience with uncharacteristically warm service and unexpected offerings, especially fresh local game, which explains their loyal following among both local and international patrons. It’s the perfect stop after a long day at MECC.”


Château Neercanne. Photo: Courtesy of Chateau Neercanne

François Laffanour
Director, Galerie Downtown Paris
“I like to stay at the Château St. Gerlach. My go-to restaurants are Harry’s at the Beaumont Hôtel, located in a historic 1912 building in the Wyck District; Château Neercanne, which is found within the only terraced castle of the Benelux; and O.”

The Frozen Fountain is one of Amsterdam’s most popular design stores Photo: Courtesy of the Frozen Fountain

Meike Hartelust
Managing director, Tom Postma Design 
“In Amsterdam, which is just two hours from Maastricht, I’m looking forward to visiting ‘Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature,’ an exhibition on view now at the Van Gogh Museum that compares Van Gogh’s work with David Hockney’s. Another must-stop is ‘All the Rembrandts’ at the Rijksmuseum, marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death in 2019. Refuel with lunch at our old-time favorite Buffet van Odette and treat yourself to locally renowned Dutch apple pie from Winkel 43, before visiting two of Tom Postma Design’s many favorite galleries, Grimm and Fons Welters. Have drinks at the windmill Brouwerij ’t IJ (Amsterdam brewed beer) accompanied by a bitterbal (crispy fried delicacy containing beef or veal and a savory sauce), preferably from the iconic Patisserie Holtkamp. We recommend X Bank and Frozen Fountain for the best Dutch fashion and design shopping. For dinner, we unanimously love restaurant Scheepskameel and restaurant RIJKS.

TEFAF Maastricht is on view to the public from Saturday, March 16, through Sunday, March 24, at the Maastricht Exhibition & Conference Centre. 

Cover: Château St. Gerlach exterior.
Photo: Courtesy of Chateau St. Gerlach


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