Bruges: Mysterious, charming and uniquely romantic
The city of Bruges is renowned for its cobbled streets, mussels, beer and chocolate. Needless to say, I had been longing to visit for some time. I managed to find a short window for a trip and it proved even more magical than I had anticipated.
Only three and a half hours from London on the EuroStar, Bruges is the perfect city break for couples, friends or even a good choice for a short family holiday.
I stayed at the Relais & Chateaux property, Hotel Heritage. This is an endearing luxury boutique hotel that is located on a quiet street off the central market square. The hotel is well located and it is within walking distance of the shopping area and theatre district, with historic museums and sites such as the Belfry Tower also close by.
Hospitality and comfort are at the heart of this venue and this is obvious from the moment they greet you from your car. The individually decorated rooms exude ancient charm and the lavish finishing touches include fluffy robes, fresh fruit, Nespresso coffee machines and an IPad2.
One of the highlights of my stay at this property was breakfast and it is one of the best early meals that I have ever experienced. It was a truly delicious surprise and served in a beautiful room that boasted impressively high ceilings. Everything from champagne, fresh pastry and juices, meats and classic British food was available.
When exploring the pretty city, which has been classified as a World Heritage Site for a number of years, I stumbled across Dell’Arte Brasserie, Tea Room and Restaurant. I actually discovered this place by chance and liked it so much that I went back a couple of times.
Sampling the local beers is almost as important as trying mussels in this city. The owners offer locally sourced biere ‘Corsendonk’ which is a must and difficult to find as the ‘Brugse Zot’ tends to dominate the market. The fillet steak is succulent and plump and the mussels were large and fresh.
There are a couple of options for transport but I must admit that casually wandering through the streets and exploring the architecture and chocolatiers by foot is the best way to experience the delights of Bruges. I would have spent the entire time on foot, but I was also aware that this city has been described as the “Venice of the North”. Therefore, a canal boat tour is necessary to really appreciate the ornate historic buildings and admire the swans that gracefully guard the canals.
For the more adventurous traveller, I would suggest hiring a tandem bike and venturing just outside of Bruges to Flanders Fields and the lovely windmills.
You can take in the main sites and absorb the atmosphere during a short stay, so this city works really well for a weekend break. Considering that Bruges is so easy to reach and offers such a delightful holiday destination, I can see myself returning in the near future.