Boutique Charm in Namur at Hôtel Les Tanneurs.
What is the thing you look for in a hotel when you are travelling? For some people being in the heart of the City is important, for others it’s finding a hotel that is contemporary, with every possible mod con. For me, it’s a hotel with heritage. I first came across Hôtel Les Tanneurs in Namur when I was visiting the area and came for lunch at the grill. But my accommodation at the time was out of town, in a perfectly adequate but rather soulless modern hotel. A return visit to Wallonia and Namur was a chance to put that right and get to know Les Tanneurs a little better.
A hotel on a historic site in Namur, Hôtel Les Tanneurs is popular with visitors and locals alike. As the name suggests some of the fifteen buildings making up the hotel today were at one time part of the tanneries of Ferdinand le Galant. Others were part of Namur’s red-light district. The story goes that from the 1600s right up until the 1980s the area was home to both tanneries and brothels.
The two businesses conflicted – the tanneries were smelly and that stench was off-putting for customers trying to visiting the ‘women of easy virtue’ who worked on St Nicholas Street. While at one point there was commercial conflict, the two businesses did manage to rub along nicely for several hundred years, thanks to a relationship between one of the prostitutes, Roselie de Boneffe and one of the master tanners, Ferdinand le Galant. The result was the building of houses to cover the smelly tanneries, though the bad smells apparently stayed in the walls and businesses of the Rue St Nicholas.
Eventually, the brothels were closed and the houses have been remodelled as Les Tanneurs – a luxury boutique hotel which retains much of the original infrastructure.
Every room is different in Hôtel Les Tanneurs – mine was a marble-lined fantasy of space over two levels. A large comfy bed as you walked in dominated the entrance, stairs down took me to a lounge area with a sofa, desk and spa bath. Very luxurious. While this particular room wouldn’t work for anyone with mobility issues as it’s not accessible from the lift and involves using a spiral staircase, there are other rooms on the top floor with a similar configuration – even one with a sauna to complement the spa bath!
With a couple of nights to stay in Namur, I had time to visit the Sunroof Bar, the latest addition to Les Tanneurs. It’s a great place to enjoy a cocktail or a glass of fizz, looking out over the rooftops of Namur.
On to the Grill for dinner.
I’d forgotten about Belgian portion sizes which may only be matched by the USA. Trying my best to order a light started, I opted for a small vegetarian salad, to be confronted by a bowlful that would have been an adequate meal in its own right.
But, in keeping with the location, I’d ordered a Belgian steak –La Blanc Bleu Belge and asked for it to be prepared as the chef thought fit (rare). This Belgian beef breed has a natural mutation which results in “double muscling” producing meat with particularly lean meat. A side of fries and a salad garnish with a large portion of delicious homemade Bearnaise was more than I could manage, though the issue was not with the food rather with my stomach!
Once I’d consumed an almost polite amount, I gave in and accepted defeat graciously. My half bottle of Bordeaux Rouge Cotes de Bley Chateau Grande Barail 2016 served chilled worked perfectly as a complement for both the salad and the beef.
After such a feast I didn’t dare try a dessert, instead enjoying a coffee before making my way back to my room.
Breakfast the next morning was an excellent version of the standard continental buffet style with nice touches like bowls of fresh fruit ready to juice. It’s all too tempting to sit and eat everything on offer – do so and you won’t need to eat again till dinner time.
If you are staying for more than one night at Les Tanneurs, you have the option of trying l’Espièglerie, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant.
Both restaurants are extremely popular with locals so do make sure you book in advance.
Les Tanneurs is a hotel to choose if you prefer quirky, individual hotels over five-star luxury chains. You might not get a coffee machine in your room or a robe in the wardrobe, but then again, you’ll have more than enough space to swing a cat – and you might even find you get your own private en-suite sauna. I loved the jacuzzi bath in my room and the large comfortable bed. Room rates range from budget to a top end of 200 euros a night for a duplex luxury suite and dinner in the grill is well priced with a set three-course menu for 32 euros
The hotel has limited parking but does have 3 charging points for electric cars.
Thinking of visiting Hôtel les Tanneurs yourself? Why not pin this post for later
Hôtel les Tanneurs
Rue des Tanneries, 13
For more about Wallonia, check out my feature on The Gastronomy of Wallonia
I was a guest of The Wallonia Tourism Board. For more information see their website
I travelled by Eurostar from London to Brussels and then on to Namur by local train. Fares start at £29 one way to Brussels and the journey takes just over two hours to Brussels and 70 minutes more to Namur
Disclosure – I was a guest of the Wallonia Tourist Board for this trip. All content is editorially given