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Affordable Bruges

May 12, 2008 By: Anne Sophie Guerin Travel Agent

We've scouted out the deals in this charming Belgian city

Of all the European cities nicknamed “Venice of the North,” Bruges stands out as one of the continent’s most charming destinations. Just an hour from the Belgian capital of Brussels, this storybook city has picturesque canals and some of the most immaculately preserved Medieval buildings in Europe. In fact, the entire historic center was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. In the summer months, day trippers from Brussels crowd the cobblestones but miss out on the city’s atmospheric ambiance when dusk falls over the Gothic spires and gingerbread houses. Your clients could easily spend a few days here soaking up Bruges’ charm: touring the Halve Maan beer brewery, biking and boating along the canals, shopping for lace and fine chocolates and visiting the museums and churches that showcase celebrated Flemish art.

Bruges canals

Bruges features picturesque canals and Medieval architecture.

And it’s not just for the grown-ups: Kids are delighted by Bruges’ attractions, which also include horse carriage rides, excursions to Bambinoland and tours of the Chocolate Museum.

The best part of all?  Bruges is an astonishingly affordable alternative to other European hot spots; your clients can enjoy even the most luxurious, top-tier rooms for under 200 euro a night. At a time when the dollar continues to nosedive, this will be music to their ears. We’ve also scouted out some charming, three-star hotels known for their exceptional personal service. Tip: If your clients will be driving, recommend that they park outside the city walls, as Bruges is quiet and (mostly) carless. When booking rooms, you can secure a (limited) parking spot with most hotels.

bruges belgium

Bruges keeps most cars outside of the city, maintaining its rustic charm.

Hotel Adornes is an excellent mid-range choice, which is extremely popular with visitors, who rave about its warm reception. With room rates starting at 110 euro per night (double occupancy), the Hotel Adornes is a great value. In a gabled 17th-century house overlooking a canal, the 20-room property is family-owned, now managed by Nathalie Standaert ([email protected], 011-32-50-34-13-36). She trusts in her experienced team members, who have worked at the Adornes for years. Each guest room is comfortable and clean with a modern bathroom; even the smallest room includes original antique elements. In the top-floor rooms, the original oak-beamed ceiling provides extra charm and character. The rooms to book are the larger room category on the top floor (specifically, #15, 16 and 17) overlooking the canal. For families traveling together, choose one of the four larger twin-bedded rooms that also have double sofa-beds—ideal for a family of four (and priced at only 165 euro).

hotel adornes burges

A cozy room in the Hotel Adornes.

Perks include free parking, a continental breakfast buffet and complimentary loaner bikes to explore the city like the locals. Standaert suggests biking the five kilometers to the nearby town of Damme. She is also a wealth of information regarding local restaurants—from simple bistro fare to the finest haute cuisine served at world-renowned De Karmeliet. All guests also receive an advantage card for discounts at museums and boat rides.[PAGE-BREAK]

hotel fevery bruges

A ground-floor studio at Hotel Fevery.

Another great value is the 10-room Hotel Fevery, owned and managed by Paul Asselman ([email protected], 011-32-50-33-12-69), who goes out of his way to attend to clients’ needs. His mantra? A personal welcome from arrival until departure. Sensitive to the miserable currency exchange rate for his American guests, Paul can recommend a budget-friendly visit around Bruges. Rooms are bright and clean, with spacious new bathrooms tiled in white. Eight of the rooms have tubs and showers; two have walk-in showers. Just a short walk from the city center, the three-star hotel also offers three spacious studios next door. Nice perk: The studios have kitchenettes so your clients can even prepare a meal in the comfort of their own room. Rates at Hotel Fevery start at 60 euro, including a buffet breakfast, free wireless Internet access and a discount card to area attractions.

In the heart of the city just steps from the Market Square, The Pand Hotel is an elegant boutique hotel operated with tender loving care by the Vanhaecke family. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, The Pand has racked up the accolades, and was most recently awarded “Best Charming Hotel in Europe 2007” by the Prix Villégiature. Housed in an intimate private mansion dating from the 18th century, the hotel is decked out with antiques and objets d’art collected by its stylish owners. Feel free to contact Lyne Vanhaecke ([email protected], 011-32-50-34-06-66) or Rebecca Landuyt, front office manager ([email protected]), with special requests for your VIPs. Room rates start at 180 euro.

pand hotel bruges

A junior suite at the Pand Hotel, where rooms are named according to their Ralph Lauren fabric color.

Refined and discreet, The Pand is not at all ornate or stuffy. All 26 rooms are individually appointed and have all the contemporary creature comforts, such as a minibar, Wi-Fi, air conditioning and large marble or granite bathrooms. The Superior, Large Superior and Junior Suite room categories include a whirlpool tub. For a special treat, book the Ralph Lauren Junior Suites or the Master Suite, the best rooms in the house. Decorated with Ralph Lauren fabrics, the Junior Suites take their cue from the collection’s color-inspired names—i.e., Cassie Blue (106), Stapleton (107), Damask (108), Valent Belting (109), McPherson (206), Kathleen Floral (207), Meadow Floral (305), Garett Camel (401) and Arboretum Floral (402)—so you can choose your theme ahead of check-in. These suites boast four-poster beds, Jacuzzi baths, flat-screen TVs and high-quality bath amenities by Annick Goutal. Tip: Room 402 also offers a unique view over the rooftops of Bruges.

There is no restaurant at The Pand, but breakfast is a classy, white-linen affair. Your clients won’t have a hard time getting out of the sumptuous beds in the morning—they’ll be lured by the bountiful buffet, freshly baked bread, and eggs cooked to order on the family stove. Waiters pour champagne and serve coffee and tea in silver teapots. The Pand also offers a pine-paneled library with a crackling fire, a bar with mahogany furniture, a courtyard with a fountain and a sauna. The hotel is pet-friendly.[PAGE-BREAK]

On May 1, the new Kempinski Hotel Dukes’ Palace will debut in Bruges. Managed by Philippe De Meyer ([email protected], 011-32-50- 44-78-82), the hotel promises to bring a whole new level of luxury to this ancient city. Smack dab in the middle of the historic old town, the Kempinski occupies the former Prinsenhof. Originally dating from the 15th century, this palace was built when Philip the Good and Isabelle of Portugal tied the knot. After an extensive restoration, the palace-turned-luxury-hotel will open its doors to the public with 93 guest rooms, including 22 suites. Distinguished by 15th-century art and centuries-old ornamental detail, these historic-listed rooms are outfitted with all the latest technology and luxurious bathrooms with Molton Brown bath amenities. For families or groups, 34 of the rooms are connecting. Room rates start at 185 euro; the gourmet champagne breakfast is priced at 25 euro per person.

For unparalleled luxury for your VIPs, book the Prinsenhof Suite. Boasting unrivaled views over Bruges, the suite’s terrace measures 35 square meters and can also be used for exclusive cocktail parties. Completely non-smoking, the hotel also features an indoor pool, three-room spa with hammam and sauna, a sculpture garden and Restaurant Manuscript, where Chef Koenraad Steenkiste will serve up quality Belgian cuisine with fresh, local products.

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