A train from the past
The border between Flanders and Wallonia, the region where Belgium’s Dutch and French-speaking communities meet, is an area of outstanding natural beauty and interest. On one side are the large orchards of Haspengouw, on the other a splendid view of the Gallo-Roman archaeological area of Plattetombe. There are footpaths running through green meadows and large farms. Set against this splendid natural backdrop is a rare pearl in the international luxury hotel sector — Station Racour, a renovated former railway station that welcomes guests with style and originality.
First built in 1907 on the Landen-Tamines railway line, the station displays the typical architecture of the period with black, yellow and red bricks to reflect the colours of the national flag. It originally comprised three blocks: the two-floor house where the guardian of the manually-operated level crossing lived and the two wings housing the ticket office, waiting rooms and toilets. When the railway line fell into disuse, the government sold the station to a private buyer who undertook a splendid renovation project, applying for the complex to be listed as a monument and converting it for use as a holiday residence. The renovation project retained the original structure and décor while adopting a modern and highly functional redistribution of spaces.
But the really surprising and unique part of the complex consists of two M2 train carriages dating from the late 1950, which remained in service until 1990 and are now parked on a siding. Meticulously restored and remodelled while preserving the styles, colours and finishes of the original structure, the carriages have been converted into four-star holiday homes with a floor space of 60 square metres each.
The exteriors of the carriages were sanded down and repainted in the original yellow and green colours of the Belgian railways and the doors restored. Everything else was completely dismantled, then insulation and new internal walls were fitted. Although spatial organisation posed a real challenge for the designers, one aspect that made a real difference was the use of porcelain floor tiles. By choosing the same tiles for all the rooms, it proved possible to increase the sense of space throughout the apartments. The chosen tiles, from NovaBell’s EcoDream collection, combine the warmth and intimacy of wood with the practicality and durability of latest-generation ceramic tiles. The tiles come in 15×90 cm and 22.5×90 cm sizes and a chestnut colour and are installed in a typical wood floor plank layout.
The sensation of continuity created by the use of the same floor tiles in all the rooms is further enhanced by the open layout of the spaces. The original entrance, which as is traditional on trains is located next to the toilets, leads to a fully fitted kitchen and then to the living room featuring two original benches equipped with restored luggage racks. Proceeding towards the front of the carriage where the driver’s cabin was located, there is a sleeping area consisting of a four-person bedroom with two single beds, a bunk bed and a small bathroom with washbasin and shower. The master bedroom, also with private bathroom, is located at the rear of the carriage.
Ideal for alternative travellers or as a unique holiday home for families with children, the location is part of the RAVel circuit, an independent slow travel network that uses canal towpaths and disused railway lines to create unconventional itineraries ideal for walking and cycling.
NovaBell, EcoDream series
30x120 - 20x120 - 15 x 90, 22.5 x 90 cm - 15x60 antislip 60x60x20mm
grey sessile oak, ash, honey, chestnut, oak, sand- lewood and lava
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): <0,5 %
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): GA-GLA-GHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant