The rain splattered against the train window as I traveled the short distance from Brussels to Bruges, only an hour away.
I’d dreamed of going to Bruges since I was around 13 and found a random penpal online who lived there. We wrote back and forth for months, talking about the differences in our cultures and how it was growing up as a teenager in Europe vs. America.
To me, Bruges, and Belgium in general, always sounded like a fairytale land – where there were old buildings, horse drawn carriages, cobblestones, and chocolate and waffles. All things that appealed to my 13 year-old self, especially the chocolate and waffles.
My interest in Bruges was peaked again when I saw the dark comedy In Bruges starring Colin Farrell. Although the Bruges they depict in the film isn’t exactly exciting and glamorous, my love for all things Belgian never wavered.
So, when I found an inexpensive flight from Thessaloniki to Brussels this summer, I knew I finally I had to visit the country that I’d built up so much in my mind – and it didn’t disappoint.
When I hopped off the train in Bruges, the rain paused long enough for me to find my accommodation for the night, about a 20 minute walk from the station – Hotel Prinsenhof.
I knew it would be cold in Belgium and I braced myself for it as much as I could, but that still couldn’t prepare me for the brisk weather I found upon landing in the country. After having just spent the summer in Greece, and before that 8.5 months in Asia, I was not prepared for cold weather.
Even though it was a fairly normal day in Belgium weather-wise, I was freezing my bum off in a climate I wasn’t quite used to yet.
So, when I walked into the warm and plush lobby of the hotel, I felt a sense of comfort immediately. The cold weather was shut out and forgotten as soon as I closed the door, and the warm smile of the receptionist, Anne-Lore, greeted me as I put my heavy pack down and checked in.
Even though I was early for check-in, I was happily escorted to my room that was already prepared for my arrival – complete with a fresh fruit basket and a personalized note welcoming me to the hotel.
I was ready to indulge in the history and luxury I had already found within Hotel Prinsenhof’s warm halls.
The manageable size of the hotel, at only 24 rooms, means that the staff is also small and tight-knit. They took the time to get to know the guests at the hotel, always had a smile at the ready, and had multiple recommendations whenever I asked about something in town.
During breakfast, there was one staff member who went up to every table to make sure everyone was enjoying their meal.
I even had the owner of the hotel, Katrien, come up to me to say hello and to make sure I was enjoying my stay. The attention given by the staff was friendly but not overbearing, and I appreciated the focus on details and good customer service they embraced.
Lobby & Bar
Although I didn’t get to spend much time in the lobby or bar with my short stay, I loved how different yet comfortable they both were.
The bar came off as more modern, with a Charlie Chaplin red and black theme that was all sorts of classy. I could easily imagine having a stiff old fashioned in one of the cushy black seats on a blustery Bruges night.
The lobby area focused more on the historic side of the hotel, with plush armchairs, a fireplace, and antique details that made it a cozy place to read a book or figure out where you wanted to go in the city.
I stayed in the deluxe room, and it was just as cozy as the lobby area although more airy and minimalistic, which I liked.
There were rich red, white, and beige accents, a balcony that looked out off the red rooftops of Bruges, and plenty of room to move around and make myself feel at home.
The bed was pure cloud. No really, I actually felt weightless when I laid down in it, it was beyond comfy.
I always say you can tell the quality of a hotel by how lovely their beds are, and this bed was ridiculously satisfying. I had the best sleep I’ve had in months, I kind of just wanted to stay in Bruges longer so I could spend a whole day in that bed.
An interesting design characteristic in many Belgian accommodations I’ve stayed at is that the toilet and the bath are in separate rooms. I mean, it makes complete sense, but I was a bit confused at first when once I got over my oohing and ahhing of the gorgeous marble bathroom, I realized that there was no toilet.
Hmm. I went over to the other side of the room and opened a door I thought was an extra closet to reveal a small toilet area and sink. This is not unusual in Belgium, but it was the first time I’d really come across it.
In the main bath area was the jacuzzi and the first thing I did when I checked in was to draw a bath, turn on the jets, pop open a bottle of Duvel, and sip it like a queen out of a wine glass.
It was the perfect way to spend my first hour at the hotel (I really didn’t want to get out), and to finally warm myself up from the coldness I’d felt since I arrived in Belgium a few days ago.
Plus, I felt more than a little luxe sipping my Duvel in the jacuzzi, and watching the rain come down the window. What a way to start out my time in Bruges.
For such a small hotel, Prinsenhof offer a number of amenities – my favorites probably being the jacuzzi and the super fast WiFi (although I didn’t combine both at the same time).
Since they are a dog-friendly hotel, they offer small welcome-gifts for pets. There’s also a private car park (from € 22 / day), and free coffee/tea/hot chocolate in the rooms. I especially loved that they stocked the mini fridge with Duvel – win!
Another amenity that I particularly liked and took advantage of was the free guided tour around Bruges. I went on the tour my second day in town and spent a couple of hours with a highly knowledgable and amiable guide, and learned a lot about the history of the medieval city in the process.
The breakfast spread had everything your heart could desire, including champagne if you so wish!
It consisted of a buffet that had both cold and warm options. There were breads and pastries, smoked salmon, eggs the way you like them, multiple types of juice, cheese and meats, fresh fruits, seltzer water, coffee, tea, and, of course, the champagne.
So whether you wanted to go carb heavy or healthy, simple or fancy, that was completely up to you.
Situated in the west of Bruges on a quiet side street, off one of the main throughways of the city, the location was ideal.
It was a peaceful and relaxing area while only being a few minutes walk from the busiest streets and squares.
Bruges is already a fairly walkable city, and the location of this hotel to all the tourist hot spots was just that – walkable. You can get just about anywhere you want to be within a 20 minute walk.
The original building that the hotel is now housed in was built in the 1930s, so not incredibly old for Europe, but still a decent age for us North American folks.
The facade was a part of an old mansion that was owned by the Traen family. Katrien Soenen and her husband Thierry Lemahieu now own the hotel, but it was originally bought and renovated by Katrien’s parents in 1986. It was first opened on August 1st of the same year.
Since then, it has only been built up more, extended, and refurbished to create the comfortable 24-room hotel that exists today.
I had a wonderful stay at Hotel Prinsenhof, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a luxury accommodation in a cozy historical city.
Generally, I have both pros and cons that I offer for any hotel review, but thinking back I really can’t think about a negative aspect that I found during my stay. Okay, one of the jacuzzi rings slid off during my bath, but um, yeah, that was about it.
Oh and the fact that the weather was too rainy to enjoy the balcony, but I can’t really blame that on the hotel.
The hotel would be perfect for those celebrating special occasions, couples (both young and old), and business travelers. I also noticed a couple of families who were staying at the hotel while I was there, which makes sense with how spacious the rooms are.
The thing that really stuck out to me while staying at Hotel Prinsenhof was the attention to detail – both in the interior decor and the way that the staff looked after guests.
Details can make all the difference between an ordinary stay and finding a home away from home, so I always appreciate when hotels make that extra effort.
If you’re interested in learning more about the hotel or booking a room while you’re in Bruges, click here.
Have you been to Bruges before? What types of hotels do you like staying at?
Note: Hotel Prinsenhof hosted me during my stay, but all opinions, as always, are my own.
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