Restored wagon in Fond-de-Gras, Niederkorn; Credit: simpleviu - www.simpleviu

Luxembourg has many well-travelled citizens and its compact size nestled amidst neighbouring countries often has its residents venturing beyond its borders for new experiences. However, if one cares to look more closely, there are unusual, whimsical locations waiting to be discovered within the country itself.

Intrigued by the prospect of finding something unexpected within familiar surroundings, I embarked on a quest for staycations that introduced me to quite a few gems of two distinctive sorts: fairytale homes and heritage or designer lodgings.

My quest for unusual and unique places to stay in Luxembourg introduced me to some strange and wonderful places, many of them (particularly those in the country’s south) built ahead of the cultural year Esch2022 to create more accommodations for tourists and also for locals.

The first on this list is a historical house in Lasauvage, in the south of the country, close to Differdange. This is an old house which was once a workers’ house, whose renovation was finished in 2022. This is an accommodation nestled in the green and picturesque offering a serene setting, within proximity to the Minett Trail.

This converted historical building combines the house’s past with modern materials. During the construction, ecological and circular aspects were considered in particular detail. One of the rooms is designed with the needs of people with disabilities in mind, featuring a bed as well as a fully equipped toilet and shower room for their convenience. The other rooms offer a cosy double bed, accompanied by a private toilet and shower room. Additionally, there is a room with two individual bunk beds and its own toilet and shower room, for families or friends travelling together. There is a final room upstairs (in combination with the previous room) with a comfortable double bed. The lodge’s common rooms are decorated with colourful wall art.

Secondly, also in the south of the country, in Fond-de-Gras, Niederkorn, a restored train  wagon is available to guests who would like to experience a different kind of stay. This wagon is divided into five parts which are: Nature, Conviviality, Hygiene, Rest and Regeneration. The last part has a sauna available. Located in the middle of nature, Fond-de-Gras was one of the most important mining centres in Luxembourg. A railway line connected this valley to the town of Pétange, which made it possible to transport millions of tonnes of iron ore to steelworks located in Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium. The train wagon offers six single beds, or three individual rooms with two single beds each and a fully equipped kitchen, heating and a private toilet and bathroom.

Next on the list of unusual lodgings is the futuristic "PUMP IT UP!" lodge, in the nature reserve "Ellergronn", just on the coast of the Minett Trail. Looking a little like a spaceship, this stay is certain to be unique. For this hut, the air is used as a main isolating force innovatively. This lodge offers a space for four people, once again immersed in nature, offering a peaceful experience away from the traffic and city noise. The lodge is made of steel and aluminium, with recyclable and reusable materials. Each mechanical component was designed to be disassembled and reusable, thereby reducing their environmental impact. The lodge has one room with four individual beds (adapted for people with disabilities), one private toilet and a shower and a fully equipped kitchenette.

To go back in time once again, the next house is Gonner house, as it was called by the locals once upon a time. This house was built on the mining path on Rue de la Bruyère, towards the Klinker Intermoselle factory. The mine’s administrative offices were located there around 1900. The house’s architecture resembles the style of industrial buildings at the time. Furthermore, it is located on the site of the National Mines Museum. There are four separate rooms with double beds and private wardrobes available, as well as a common room.  The Gonner Haus also has a shower room and a separate toilet, a fully equipped kitchen and heating.

Another eco-friendly choice, located in Mondercange, are the three “Biergemer Kabaisercher”. They are small, prefabricated huts made of 24 layers of recycled cardboard, machine-molded and produced in the Netherlands. These little huts are called “Wikkelhouse”, meaning “wrap house” in Dutch. The modules can be assembled in flexible ways, like building blocks. The natural atmosphere, green landscape and the garden in movement surround these eco-friendly lodges, located in between trees, hedges, bushes and flowers of regional species. While the focus is on sustainability, these huts are comfortable and can be booked together (all three) at a reduced price. Each hut has a double bed and a sofa bed, a fully equipped kitchen and a private toilet and bathroom and they are heated. There is also a children’s park nearby.

Another strange and wonderful creation is the “Floater Dudelange”, another lodge with a fully equipped kitchen and private bathroom with toilet that can accommodate up to four guests. This hut is located in Dudelange, on one of the end (or starting) points of the hike through the Minett region. It is a steel and wood construction developed by M3 Architects in collaboration with the artist Franck Miltgen as a hybrid proposal between sculpture and architecture. The inspiration for its shape was a rock face in the Haard-Hesselbierg-Staebierg nature reserve, the largest of its kind in Luxembourg. A 3D scan was made of the rock face, which was later reproduced out of steel and wood for the outside and inside walls. The steel front interacts with the water and it allows a view of it and the surroundings. A large picture window allows a full view of the water tower, but those who prefer privacy can relax behind the curtain in one of the available sleeping alcoves. The cooling basin once served as part of the steelworks that processed the ore mined in the surrounding mining areas such as the Haard-Hesselsbierg-Staebierg open-pit mine. The city’s “Schmelz” district is now a hotspot for history and culture bearing witness to the changes while holding on to its industrial heritage. The site includes a museum and exhibition centre in the form of the former pump house.

Last but not least, another historical building is available in Tétange in an old Arbed office building. Six sleeping accommodations await guests in a building where trolley cars full of Minett rock containing ore were once weighed. From there, the ore was sent to the steel plants in the region, contributing to the creation of part of the wealth that changed the fortune of the Grand Duchy in the 20th century. In line with circular economy and zero waste principles, the building materials that were removed during the renovation works were reused elsewhere. The transformation of this old administrative building had the goal of preserving the existing, historical basic form of the building. The exterior facade has been kept as it was, while the interior was decorated with an industrial-cultural touch, street art and frescoes. There are four single beds and a second floor with a double bed available, which can be reached via a ladder; the equipped kitchen, heating and private bathroom with toilet (and essentials) complete the rental.

These unusual, Luxembourg-based rental locations offer peaceful stays in comfortable conditions – whether in renovated historical buildings, in specially designed eco-friendly huts or a refurbished wagon, these industrial-inspired staycation experiences are sure to add a little charm to an otherwise dull weekend or short, relaxing holiday, not too far from home.