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Classic Belgian Charm at Pand Hotel, Bruges:
The term ’boutique hotel’ is one which is quite wide-reaching and can be misleading. Sometimes a synonym for ‘small’, at other times something quite special and unique. Pand Hotel is definitely the latter – an elegant Belgian town-house hotel where you can’t help but feel at home and pampered. An 18th Century carriage house in the heart of the old town just a few steps from Rozenhoedkaai, it has been carefully transformed into a 26 room hotel, with a focus on luxury and style.
There are four different types of room – but, even the ‘charming rooms’ are luxurious and beautifully decorated, the marble bathrooms equipped with a bathtub and overhead shower and each room with air conditioning, free wi-fi and a mini bar
I stayed in a Junior Suite, which came with Hermes toiletries, bathrobes and slippers in the bathroom, a stand-alone shower and a four-poster bed. It was stylish without being ostentatious, there were sockets everywhere I needed them and everything worked perfectly.
I went on a quick tour of the hotel – every room was delightful and every room was different. I suspect that a lot of visitors come back time and time again – and that most of them pick their own favourite room and ask for it by name.
I don’t often feel so comfortable in a hotel, but after a full day of walking around Bruges, I was more than happy to come back to my room and relax with a glass of wine and some nibbles for a few hours before going out for dinner. The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant but they can provide limited room service, and there’s a cosy bar downstairs if you don’t want to walk to one of Bruges’ many restaurants. They do serve a rather splendid and very special breakfast!
I loved the cosy library with open fire, pine panelled walls and an eclectic selection of antiques too. It’s stylish and beautifully designed throughout – somehow managing to fuse contemporary design with traditional comfort and elegance.
There are some really personal touches too that make this hotel special. With 26 rooms, the reception staff seem to manage to know who everyone is without needing to be reminded. They provide everything you might need, from trays of tea or coffee in your room to taxi shuttles and laundry services. And, there’s a daily, free of charge, guided walk through the old city. Perfect if you are in Bruges on a short break. Sadly I couldn’t make it myself, but reports from some of the guests staying in the hotel were really positive.
There’s also a guest house next door with just three rooms, all decorated with Ralph Lauren fabrics but with simpler styling than the main hotel. Many of the hotel’s facilities are shared with the guest house too. It would be the perfect place for a small group to stay as the guest house has its own breakfast room and special level of intimacy.
For me, breakfast was, without any doubt, the best I’ve had in any hotel. Imagine a light and welcoming breakfast room/conservatory, leading out onto a pretty courtyard. Along one wall a large, traditional dresser with an aga. Set out in the corner, the usual breakfast buffet selection.
The endearing husband and wife team of Sandra Caestecker and Ignace Theys have worked at the hotel for respectively 19 and 15 years and are responsible for breakfast service. She’s in charge of the food while he looks after service. Tea or coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne to start, with a basket of fresh breakfast bread and pastries.
It’s hard to resist and if you are not careful you will end up feasting on too much from the buffet – cold meats and cheeses, fruit, cereal and yoghurt. But, here’s somewhere you DO need to enjoy the cooked breakfast, even if like me you don’t really like eggs.
With the lid of the Aga lifted and small cast iron cocottes on hand, Sandra prepares a cooked farmhouse breakfast fit for a King. I have to confess to ordering one version for myself (without egg) and one for the photo with an egg.
And Sandra was happy to oblige – especially as I’d turned up a little late for breakfast and was one of the last to be served. I suspect the spare one made a nice treat for Ignace;)
Katalyne Haelters, the General Manager told me that only Sandra knew the secret of the Aga and how to prepare such wonderful breakfasts in minutes. I hope if she ever starts to consider retiring she takes on an apprentice so that the Pand Hotel breakfast can continue with such style.
I’m happy to recommend the Pand Hotel and the Pand17 guesthouse to anyone considering a visit to Bruges. I couldn’t find any fault with the hotel and I did find plenty of little luxuries mixed in with home comforts, friendly staff and an exceptional level of service without any ostentatiousness.
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I travelled to Bruges as a Guest of Visit Bruges
I travelled with Eurostar to Bruges via Brussels. Tickets start at £29 one way and the journey takes around 3 hours.
Are you looking for something similar in the UK? Check our roundup of the Best British Boutique Hotels