A lively jumble of cobbled streets, photogenic canals and gilded landmarks, Bruges is a corker of a medieval city. The best way to see it is on foot, although hopping on one of the little boats ferrying tourists up and down the canal is also an excellent way to get your bearings. You could easily see the major sights in a day: climb to the top of the Belfry, wander down to greet the swans at Minnewater Park, or get your fill of Primitives and other relics in the beautifully preserved churches and museums. It may be packed with Michelin-star restaurants, but pocket-sized Bruges can be a bit quiet in the evenings. It pays to have a lovely hotel to retreat to and here are 10 of the best.
The best hotels in Bruges are:
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Neighbourhood: Sint Anna
Counts and dukes once called this elegant canalside mansion home and no effort has been spared to keep that glamorous heritage alive. Lofty and light filled, Hotel Van Cleef is unabashedly maximalist, tastefully crammed with Missoni and Hermès textiles, bold patterns and Italianate sculptures. If you can’t plump for a canal-view room (generously fitted with a whirlpool bath), make time to sit on the charming terrace and watch the boats go by. Make sure to ask for recommendations – the staff here know every good table in town.
Price: Doubles from €243 (£202)
Neighbourhood: West Brugge
Backing onto a quiet stretch of canal, Kind of OJ is an interior designer’s dream: a bijou B&B with just three beautifully decorated suites. Everything has been handpicked, from the fluffy sheepskin rugs by Belgian designer, Carine Boxy, to the striking art on the walls. Stocked with luxe Aesop products, the bathrooms are particularly delicious (the L suite has a mezzanine tub, and the XL suite an Instagram-worthy red and green number). Snuggle up in front of the fireplace in the sprawling living space downstairs: it’s the perfect excuse to stay in.
Price: Doubles from €220 (£183)
A rustic brick and wood house dating back to the 16th century, Bonifacius has been sensitively converted to a charming guesthouse on a central stretch of the canal. Don’t expect cutting-edge Belgian design here, however. Rooms are elegantly dressed in soft greys and classic florals; some have four-poster beds. There’s a pretty waterfront terrace with front-row views of the Church of Our Lady, and the Groeningemuseum’s Flemish masterpieces are just around the corner.
Price: Doubles from €217 (£182)
Neighbourhood: Magdalena Quarter
A hop and a skip from the Belfry of Bruges, the Pand has sweeping rooftop views from some of its rooms. This intimate former carriage house does a fine line in luxurious comfort. Breakfasts are cooked on an Aga, served on linen-dressed tables under and come with a welcome glass of champagne. There’s plenty of space to make yourself at home, thanks to a chandelier-lit library with a crackling fire, pine-panelled lounges and a snug bar with plump Chesterfield sofas.
Prices: Doubles from €164 (£137)
A 15th-century palace is a fitting setting for a hotel devoted to cosseting its guests. Decorated in chocolate-box tones, rooms err on the classic side of chic. In fine weather, a recently spruced-up restaurant opens on to manicured gardens featuring a giant sculpture of a red poodle. After a day of exploring the city’s cobbled streets, rest weary feet at the in-house spa, kitted out with a steam room, sauna and Himalayan salt wall.
Price: Doubles from €165 (£138)
Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell famously holed up here in the dark comedy In Bruges, but this boutique hotel has a lot more going for it than a silver screen cameo. Instantly recognisable by its timbered facade and stained-glass windows, it commands one of the prettiest spots on the city’s waterways. It’s equally seductive on the inside, with antique furniture, enormous beds and carefully preserved period features.
Price: Doubles from €201 (£168)
With its velvet dining chairs, wood-panelled walls and imposing chimney, Hotel de Orangerie’s breakfast room is a sight to behold. Morning feasts (salmon, cooked-to-order eggs, fine cheeses) are served from a green marble table; in good weather, they’re best savoured on the terrace by the water. As might be expected from a converted 15th-century convent, the rest of this boutique stay is equally enchanting, packed as it is with old-world trappings.
Price: Doubles from €129 (£108)
Neighbourhood: Ezelstraat Quarter
Young and hip, Monsieur Ernest makes the most of an intriguing building that has previously served as a residence and brewery. Eclectic period features – decorative mosaics, parquet flooring and a wrought-iron staircase – have been carefully preserved, cleverly offsetting a modern, masculine aesthetic. Make time for a drink or two in the bar, which has a pretty waterside terrace just made for slow sips of local brews.
Price: Singles from €118 (£99), doubles from €128 (£107)
Belgian royals Albert and Paola had their honeymoon in this medieval mansion, so you’re guaranteed a fairytale kip. Now home to the art studio of Flemish painter David de Graef, the guesthouse is also blessed with a ravishing walled garden. Rooms are atmospherically austere, with original gothic ceilings and imposing beds dressed in simple crisp linens. There’s no need to rush to get up: healthy three-course breakfasts can be served in-room, too.
Price: Doubles from €201 (£168)