Maison d'hotes Hotel Verhaegen

Ghent, Belgium Book from

Recommended awaiting i-escape review
A romantic, utterly unique maison d’hôtes in a beautifully restored historic mansion in central Ghent
When Jan Rosseel and Marc Vergauwe met in design school, they could never have guessed that decades later they'd become the owners of a derelict 18th-century mansion. But in 2004, that’s exactly what happened; the interior designers bought a palatial townhouse in central Ghent, in need of complete restoration. 18 months later, the stunning result was Maison d’hôtes Hôtel Verhaegen, a private mansion turned maison d'hôtes, and an evolution in Dutch and French design. There are 5 spacious bedrooms, each with a unique fusion of antiques and modernist touches. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings, sumptuous fabrics furnish the beds, and quirky finds are displayed in hidden corners. It’s certainly not a museum, though; rather a lived-in home that you're invited to share.

Downstairs the opulence continues in the magnificent Grand Salon, which overlooks a French-style garden with an ornamental pond, box hedges and potted lemon trees. Inside, the salon walls are lined with 250-year-old Rococo murals by the Flemish painter Pierre Norbert van Reysschoot, and great care has been taken to preserve original features such as marble fireplaces and herringbone-wood floors. After a day's sightseeing it's a fabulous place to relax with a fine wine or brandy. We’ve yet to stay, but it’s exactly what we’d hoped to find in historic Ghent.

Highs

  • A must for art lovers and those interested in Flemish architecture; it’s perfectly placed for Ghent’s medieval canals and galleries, and just 5 minutes' walk from the Graslei
  • The warmth of service. Jan and Marc go out of their way to make you feel welcome and previous guests say they felt like they were visiting old friends
  • High-ceilinged rooms, with antique screens, plush carpets and vintage-style wallpapers. Gorgeous bathrooms, too
  • Within easy walking distance of Patershol with its 14th-century buildings housing excellent restaurants
  • Breakfast in bed on request: flaky French pastries and rich coffee, perfect for a lazy morning

Lows

  • Rates don't include breakfast, and the hotel is expensive compared to other B&Bs in the area, but worth the splurge for special occasions
  • Generally closed on a Sunday & Monday night; if you want to stay on these nights you'll need to book a 2-night non-refundable stay
  • As with most city locations, there can be traffic noise
  • The owners have a chocolate Labrador, so it wouldn't suit those with allergies

Best time to go

Spring, autumn and summer are all good times to visit; January and February are typically rainy. If you don’t mind the crowds, visit in July or August for Ghent’s festival season. Neighbouring Patershol and Prinsenhof have a full programme of activities with street artists, exhibitions and activities for children. The hotel is open all year except the first 2 weeks of January and the first 2 weeks of August.

Our top tips

On Fridays and Saturdays, book a private guided tour of Hôtel d’Hane Steenhuyse (2.30pm). This is the house of the family d’Hane Steenhuyse, who formerly owned Hôtel Verhaegen. The Treaty of Ghent was signed here in 1812, which concluded the 1812 war between Great Britain and the USA.

Great for...

City Style
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 5
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Private tours
Room: Suite Années \\\'40

Rooms

There are 5 large and impressive bedrooms. All have original 18th-century fireplaces, dramatic high ceilings and elaborate cornicing, but they are completely different in décor, with bright colour washes and handpicked antiques (parchment leather washstands, vintage screens, marble tabletops). Retro touches, like Roberts radios and modernist art, act as a clever counterpoint and add a lived-in feel.

Chambre des Amoureux is the smallest room (still 50 sq.m!), with a beautiful canopy bed. De Luxe Italianne is a similar size, but with twin beds, oil paintings and wood panelling. The aptly named Cosy is very private, tucked up in the eaves with a bath hidden in a cupboard. The best room for a view is tranquil Paola’s Room (the Junior Suite), which overlooks the manicured garden. Its sitting room is decorated in vibrant hues of red, and quirky artwork - a 'Pasta' poster by the French artist Razzia - hangs above the fireplace. It also has an illustrious history: the Queen of Belgium stayed here as a child. For complete and utter decadence, splurge on the enormous Suite Années '40. It's airy and luxurious, with grey and cream walls, a private reading room and a lovely balcony.

Bathrooms have big tubs, waterfall showers and complimentary Floris products, and all rooms have flat-screen TVs and WiFi. Minibars hide a selection of fine wines and champagne.

Guests also have the run of the gorgeous communal areas, which go way beyond anything you’d expect to find in a B&B. The Grand, Chinese and Dining Salons are magnificent with fabulous furnishings, while the serene and fragrant garden is the perfect spot for a cup of tea.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Marc and Jan's scrupulous attention to detail continues at breakfast, where perfectly poached eggs and flaky French pastries are served on silver platters at a communal table. The Dining Salon is stunning, with a heavy chandelier, 250-year-old Rococo paintings by Pierre Norbert van Reysschoot, and a log fire in winter. If, however, you're tempted to linger in bed, ask for breakfast to be delivered to your room.

Ghent’s restaurant culture revolves around local seafood and you're an easy stroll from an eclectic mix of bars and eateries. On Jan Breydelstraat, The House of Elliot is a 1920s-style brassiere recommended for its lobster menu. Down in the 14th-century Patershol quarter there are some great fish restaurants, including Nzet. A Flemish staple is waterzooi (a stew made with fish or chicken) and this can be sampled at many restaurants, including the well-known Pakhuis - an industrial-chic former warehouse. Or try the bijou Cuisine Ouverte on Annonciadenstraat for a gourmet veggie feast. After dinner, head back to the hotel and unwind in the Grand Salon with one of Jan and Marc’s fiery cocktails or a cigar and fine brandy.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Communal dining
  • Drinks on request
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Stroll along the canal to the Graslei, Belgium’s most famous quay. It’s only a 5-minute walk to the busy medieval port with its lively restaurants and specialised old merchant shops
  • Ghent is famous for its splendid 18th-century Flemish architecture, dating from its textile-trade past. Marc and Jan can organise a private guided tour of the historic centre
  • The SMAK museum holds a world-class collection of contemporary art, including Hockneys and Warhols
  • St Bavo’s Cathedral is a must, with 3 impressive towers and a Rococo pulpit built from Danish oak. It’s worth the token entrance fee just to see The Adoration of the Lamb altar piece - one of the finest examples of religious art
  • Head to Zwarte Zusterstr for clothing boutiques and artisan products. Recommended shops include Volderstraat, Henegouwenstraat and Vlaanderenstraat
  • Listen to jazz and admire the art at the Hotsy Totsy Club, just down the road from the hotel. Over 30 years old, it's popular with artists and photographers
  • Check out the Parisian-style second-hand book market of Ajuinlei, located along the Lys. Hunt down some old classics or stock up on vintage postcards and records
  • While in Ghent, it would be wrong not to sample the mouthwatering chocolates at patisserie Joost Arijs. The owner used to work in the famous Michelin-star restaurant Hof van Cleve and his cookies are sublime

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Live music
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are welcome, although it's not an obvious choice for a family stay. It's probably best suited to babies or older children. Baby cots/extra beds are available.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The 4 smaller rooms can fit a baby cot; Suite Années ’40 can fit a rollaway bed. If guests are coming with older children or more than 1 child we'd recommend booking 2 rooms. De Luxe Italianne is twin bedded.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
8/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Maison d'hotes Hotel Verhaegen