With the summer months fast approaching, we’ve toured the country to reveal 10 of our favourite weekend getaway hotels. From the cute and cosy to the wow and wonderful, we have it covered.
1. Le jardin bohémien, Ghent
This coffeehouse meets B&B is right by Ghent’s Design Museum, which comes as no surprise when encountering its smart but rustic decor, pieced lovingly together by owner Jean Pierre De Taeye, a former vintage furniture dealer. The downstairs café houses a seven-meter-long table, made of Congolese bubinga wood set on a steel frame, which sums up nicely the owner’s intention of a friendly, “share the sugar” kind of environment.
It extends upstairs to the B&B’s sole room, a take on a sun-lit apartment in Copenhagen with three large windows, wooden-tiling walls and two Cees Braakman armchairs. It sleeps up to four people, but plans are already in the pipeline for a second room once the De Taeye family have jumped ship. Have a look on their website and you’ll read “foot massage on request”, once the owner’s joke but now a guest’s reality, as a masseuse can be summoned if necessary following a long day treading the cobbles of Ghent. All in all it’s a getaway packed with grungy charm: “the right outfit with the wrong shoes”, says Jean Pierre.Burgstraat 19 – 9000 Ghent
2. La Suite, Brugge
On first entering this ‘Dinner & Bed’, located by the city’s eastern Kruis gate, the owners’ words “one thing just lead to another” about La Suite appear somewhat modest; the ‘Best Hotel Design’ winner at the 2013 Belgian Hospitality Awards is a beautifully constructed designer’s dream, and not a mere fluke. Its three suites are all named after grape varieties – Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc – to mirror each room’s unique flavour. Their decor brings the outdoors in with colossal wooden beams and nature-themed headboard walls (Sauvignon Blanc’s amber-lit forest backdrop is a particular highlight), all to be admired when relaxing in the tub of the glass-enclosed bathrooms.
Across the street you’ll find the dinner part of this ‘D&B’, La Suite restaurant, which adds a mere Michelin Star to the owners’ already star-studded trophy cabinet. Surely with this getaway you won’t feel that holiday guilt of dining in the same place you sleep!Langestraat 126 – 8000 Bruges
3. Sweet Brussels, Brussels
This nineteenth century town house is nicely located between Brussels-Midi and Grand Place, making it an ideal spot for a city break in the Belgian capital. It is family-run by Sofie van Buggenhout, who set up the B&B to do something more “social” following a career in the less glitzy world of IT. The five rooms are the perfect cliché: ‘high ceilings, wooden floorboards and beautiful marble fireplaces’, and all bask in an abundance of natural light.
Arguably the decor is this getaway’s undeniable focal point, simple but classic, with a successful fusion of old and modern furniture, which is sure to cool off a day’s heat after meandering the streets of Brussels. Wrought iron balconies provide a high rise view of the Sablon, but with these rooms, you might be torn between which direction offers the best views. If you are particularly enamoured by Sweet Brussels, why not live there more full-time? A rentable, spacious apartment is offered as well, allowing you to “live life at your own rhythm”.Avenue de Stalingrad 78 Stalingradlaan – 1000 Brussels sweetbrussels.be
4. Simon Says, Ghent
Three-hour train journey complete, now just need to find the hotel so you can dispose of your anvil of a rucksack, but where the hell is it? The colourful exterior of this B&B is sure to be a beacon in your search, and probably enough to awaken Sleeping Beauty from her substantial nap. A Geo Hendrix creation, the building is located in the trendy Patershol district, and like le jardin bohèmien, the owners balance the coffeehouse-B&B mix triumphantly. The two are “inseparable” and, according to Simon, the B&B benefits from the buzzy café and the coffeehouse profits from a refined hospitality-service.
The two rooms are light with a modern décor, a soothing domain before descending into the dark turquoise of the busy café for your breakfast. When tucking into your croissant, check out the original Panamarenko sketchings on the walls, or enjoy the people-watching from its terrace, a neighbourhood institution. Like Ghent as a city, this is not the place to relax; single-paneled windows intentionally do very little to dampen the bustle of Ghent. This place is designed for the city tripper, looking for a punchy taste of an often overlooked Belgian gem.Sluizeken 8 – 9000 Ghent simon-says.be
5. Nooz, Grobbendonk
At this resort, you don’t need to look at your watch, in fact, don’t bring your watch at all, for what awaits is ultimate relaxation in a timeless forest. Taken from ‘snooze’, Nooz successfully puts your daily life ‘on-hold’, but this time not for a lousy 10 minutes, but anything from two hours to a week. The doors opened in 2006, after owner Wam Vanacker had consistently failed to find a place to truly relax. He calls his competition “commercial relaxation”, or hotels that mimic the chain and ball of working life with fixed breakfast times.
The resort consists of four modern living quarters, all independent from each other for maximum privacy and set within a lush expanse of woodland, aptly named the Nooz forest.Activities and experiences are known as ‘noozing’, and include: more massages than Chinese characters (each masseuse is limited to 3 massages per day for maximum passion!), indoor/outdoor Jacuzzis and dinner alfresco all year round (outhouses with massive glass sections exist for those who like to feel the summer when it’s winter).Nachtegalendreef 40 – 2280 Grobbendonk nooz.be
6. Het Luxepaard, Antwerp
Het Luxepaard is the product of artsy couple Henk and Hubert, who bought the house initially to trove their personal treasures of furniture and art over a decade ago. The building is a 1913 mansion house located in a peaceful residential area south of Antwerp’s main centre, and right by Albert Park, interestingly a former execution site for prisoners, so remember to pay the bill when you check out! Of the two rooms, the Suite and the Garden room, each is said to have its own “special identity”. The larger Suite has two rooms, a sharp orange bedroom cooled nicely by a stone-blue living room. The Garden room is smaller but more contemporary, and overlooks a wild expanse of greenery, otherwise known as the garden.
The obvious highlight is the blend of furniture – a snooper’s paradise – such as the Suite’s light-fitted sculptures hanging either side of the fireplace, or the Garden room’s 19th century Spanish bed frame. Many items are Henk-made including some of the paintings whilst breakfast is served in the couple’s library, for those who like to blend their muesli with prose.Lamorinièrestraat 250 – 2018 Antwerp
7. Hotel Neuvice, Liège
This boutique hotel, situated close to the vibrant Place du Marché on Liège’s oldest pedestrian street, perfectly embodies Liège with its stir of old and new. Owner and art historian Gaëtane Leroy purchased the property as a challenge, to restore the traditional quarters “for the new generation” whilst respecting its former character. As a result, one notes constant temporal jumps throughout – old versus new – that are undoubtedly this getaways greatest charm. The ten rooms are the most modern aspects, all tastefully decorated, and fast-forwarded in time with a host of techy gadgets (a touch screen that gives you free rein over lights, heating and music).
Step back in time, however, when having breakfast in the fifteenth century cellar or walking along the grand wooden passageway that overlooks the courtyard. This balcony-like feature was used by the first owner to walk between the once separated buildings, now perhaps best used for reciting a bit of Shakespeare with a G&T in hand. The hotel also runs a photography competition, awarding the best snap of Liège every month.En Neuvice 45 – 4000 Liège
8. Ne5t, Namur
If you are searching for the royal treatment, this getaway should suffice, having pulled its bed sheets back for none other than Prince Albert of Monaco. It prides itself on offering high-class extravagance in a friendly atmosphere, filling a void with “luxury that the Walloon capital lacks”. Opened as recently as 2012, it is a former farmhouse located in the Citadel of Namur, 30 minutes from Charleroi airport. It flaunts six luxury suites, set around a fancy swimming pool terrace, that ooze country house charm with a twist of modern chic.
Our favourite is the Vauban suite, where the atmosphere of an art gallery “descends upon you” with two floors of exquisite design composed of timber, metal and glass. A close second is the Terrasse Suite, which they say is “audaciously modern”. There’s a bathtub at the end of the bed for lazy slip-in access and a cooking area that could well be a prop from the Millennium Falcon. But don’t get stuck in your personal nest, venture out, but not too far, to enjoy the luxury spa and restaurant on site.Avenue Vauban 46 – 5000 Namur
9. cmb58, Antwerp
Located in trendy Antwerp South, this so-called “private house” is an experience in itself, for this is no last minute deal but a reason to come to Antwerp altogether. At this getaway a lot is going on, maybe too much for those known to suffer with mild sea sickness, for owner Eddy Jambers has created a nautical fantasy. Stood still in the top floor guest rooms, you would be forgiven for thinking you are on a barge in Amsterdam, with deep colours set against endless mahogany.
Climb up a vertical ladder – Ahoy! Ahoy! – to arrive on the top deck, or an authentic barge observation tower. Jambers found the addition in a scrap yard, like many of cmb58’s treasures, and planted it on top of the building to offer panoramic views of the city. Downstairs is less maritime, more decadent showroom, with an art gallery and an apartment that has been used for film sets. It is littered with eccentric finds and creations, “nothing is there by coincidence”, like the rather inconspicuous giant red figure equipped with a lobster’s claw, a sculpture by the owner’s brother.Volkstraat 58 – 2000 Antwerp
10. The Royal Snail, Namur
There are 250 hotels represented by the swanky members club Design Hotels, two of which are located in Belgium, and one is called the Royal Snail – perhaps that alone will take you face to face with the 600-plant, vertical garden façade of this getaway. But there is more! More snails if you were wondering; this slimy symbol of Namur reflects the hotel’s attempts to stay close to its traditions. Mollusk replicas and shell swirls dominate most parts of the hotel, most notably at the building’s rear where bold illustrations wrap the balconies and fill occasional window panes.
In the main public areas, such as the lobby, corridors and stairways, the vibe is drabby chic with shadowy colours and dark woods. In contrast, the rooms are much brighter and more inviting, with beds that seem perfect for wannabe divers. A quirky image or wallpaper usually features, these include anything from a gaffer-taped naked women to a cloudy sky that gives you that floating feeling. Other facilities are the gastronomic restaurant, the Agathopéde, where you can enjoy innovative cuisine, and furthermore a fancy bar, spa and outdoor swimming pool.Avenue de la Plante 23 – 5000 Namur