“Beautiful city B&B meets classy cultural homestay in a 1913 house beside Ghent’s Citadelpark”
There is just 1 suite: a double bedroom with a divinely comfortable and romantic bed, plus a sitting room with a large plasma TV, a coffee machine and a sofa, and a large bathroom that opens to a roof terrace with a table and chairs. There is also a superb shower just off the bedroom.
I loved the place. It could easily have been made into a self-contained apartment, with a kitchenette and private entrance, but that would depersonalise the experience, which is like staying with friends with excellent taste. You have so much space and the rooms are beautifully furnished and decorated; there may be 59 stairs up to this floor, but the climb is definitely worth it.
I liked the details best - the pair of little brass birds sitting on top of antique books, the vintage coffret of silver grooming products, the original clawfoot bath positioned perfectly so that you can open the stained glass doors to the terrace and see out, but nobody can see in. There’s a lovely light in the bathroom too, where 10 white-winged lightbulbs fly out from the centre like little angels. And I slept really well on the plump French bed.
You’ll find a lavish breakfast in the downstairs salon at a time that suits you, with eggs to order, local cheeses, ham, yoghurt and fresh bread and pastries.
L'Ecume des Jours is essentially a B&B, but they do offer a table d'hôte lunch or dinner on request. They are delicious and imaginative: think zucchini soup with thyme and honey; haddock with sweet potatoes, a lemon butter sauce and pistachios and capers, then candied pineapple with coconut ice cream and a mousse of cheese.
You'll want to eat out as well though: Ghent has nearly 400 restaurants to choose from, counting Michelin-starred fine-dining palaces and edgy student cafés among them, so dining is a joy. For Flemish cuisine (currently undergoing a renaissance) try Café Theatre, a large brasserie popular with locals in the centre. Among others The House of Eliott is recommended, particularly for its lobster. Just beyond the city, Hertog Jan has been awarded 3 Michelin stars, making it one of the best restaurants in the world. Michel and Sophie can help with further recommendations and bookings.
There are twice-weekly cooking classes held at L'Ecume des Jours, led by Bruno van Assche, a private chef who has trained under Peter Goossens and cooked in numerous Michelin-starred kitchens. I joined him for a course in cooking with forgotten vegetables (Brussels sprouts, salsify and kohlrabi included), and would thoroughly recommend it. Courses span Japanese cuisine, knife skills and traditional Flemish food, and are taught in the kitchen. Contact Michel for a list of upcoming classes.