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The hotel is the two matching wood facades over the canal
At this very momentbelieve it or notwe are in Bruges, and no not because of the tourist rush that the Colin Farrell/Ralph Fiennes movie "In Bruges" brought. We've just always wanted to head to the "Venice of the north," as the town is called, but while here we can't simply ignore the now-famous sites around town that became almost another character in the movie on their own.
One such spot is the hotel in which the main hitman characters Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) are put up by their boss, Harry (Fiennes). In the movie, it's passed off as a quaint, home-run bed and breakfast, but in reality it's the 4-star hotel Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce. It's here that the characters ponder death, reveal secrets, and even one of them jumps from his room window into the freezing canal below.
Another picture and what we found, after the jump!
Mirror, mirror, on the wall--or at least hanging in the bathroom in the NH Brussels hotel. Apparently we're not the fairest of them all, but this mirror still has a friendly message for us:
I see a lot of faces and I have never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.
The nice part is that guest reviews make the NH Brussels sound like one of the best hotels in town, so we probably would be smiling at this mirror. And more so now that we've discovered a stay at this place won't break the bank, with rooms starting at €64.50 (a strangely not-rounded price but that's what the hotel's own website promises; it's less than $85).
If the mirrors are so complimentary about our beautiful smiling faces, then we're just wondering what the staff will have to say about our great dress sense and gorgeous luggage, too. And who said Belgium was only good for the chocolate?
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Well said, no? And this is exactly what our friends will be doing next month.
Instead of traveling the well-touristed paths in Brussels and Bruge, they're heading to Belgium's North Sea coastline, to the village of De Haan. Never heard of it? Neither had we, but get this. This is where Albert Einstein and Marvin Gaye went to escape the madness.
It obviously has just the right equation to get it on (sorry, couldn't let it pass without a plug for Marv and Al, rest their souls).
Anyway, our friends will be seeking respite from their own crazy lives at an intimate 15-room property called Manoir Carpe Diem. A plum piece of property right next to the forest dunes, beach and promenade, this family-run villa is like a country-style home. English garden, brick terrace, grassy lawns. And the heated outdoor pool is the thing when you can't bare the frigid North Sea waters.
Guess what Monica Guy was doing yesterday on Boxing Day? Yup. Fantasizing about hotels....
It's Boxing Day and you're wishing you'd gone away for Christmas. The turkey-smeared plates are piled up in the sink and you are feeling the after-effects of Aunty Jean's home-made concrete mince pies and knock-out Christmas pud. (Or is it just the English who inflict these Christmas "treats" upon each other?)
Either way, you've vowed you won't be messing around with Christmas at home again - you're on the internet checking out Christmas hotels for next year.
Bruges, Belgium is possibly the sweetest Christmas city in Europe. Okay, so it's cold...but you might get snow and at least it's small and cosy enough to stroll around. The Christmas market in the main square is a mulled wine and roasted chestnuts extravaganza. Perfect.
If you can spell the name, stay in the 4-star Hotel Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce.
It's not the most well-known hotel in Bruges or even the most classic - for that you'll want the equally bizarrely-spelt Hotel Tuilerieen. But that's about to change - the RBC's got a starring role in the forthcoming black comedy In Bruges featuring Ralph Fiennes and Colin Farrell. After March 2008, you'll be able to say, "Well, I was there before it was famous..."
[Ed. Note: Welcome to our Good Rate/Bad Rate feature where we look at hotel prices in the same city and decide which one most deserves your hard-earned benjamins. Rates quotes here were valid for the dates of April 7 to 9, 2007 and are subject to change. Enjoy.]
When booking a hotel overseas, often you'll find a better selection with a company in that region. Other times, you might as well stay with the home team. Venere.com is based in Europe, but they've been coming up short over and over for us lately. They had zero rooms available anywhere in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day and the screen shot above is for Brugge, Belgium the nights of April 7 and 9--during the Choco-Laté Festival.
In our Bad Rate feature, we usually show you where you'll get a bad deal for your money, but there's no worse deal than not being able to get a room at all, at any price. So you may want to skip Venere if you're trying to book a European room during a festival, holiday, or...high season anywhere.
None of the deals strike us as particularly terrible since beggars can't be choosers at festival time, but we wouldn't relish the thought of driving 14 kilometers from the center just to stay at the Best Western Richmond-Thonnon, for $191 a night. Yes, it's at the beach, but a northern European beach in April is not very enticing. Plus strutting around in a bathing suit after gorging on chocolate for days on end isn't a pretty picture either.
· Good Rate: Belgium's Choco-Laté Festival [HotelChatter]
[Ed. Note: Welcome to our Good Rate/Bad Rate feature where we look at hotel prices in the same city and decide which one most deserves your hard-earned benjamins. Rates quotes here were valid for April 7 to 9, 2007 and are subject to change. Enjoy.]
We couldn't resist anything that lets us say "choco-laté" over and over, so this week we're checking out rates in Bruges (or Brugge), Belgium for the Choco-Laté Festival running April 6 to 10. Do your dieting before you head in this direction, then dive in for a few days of indulgence, sleeping it off at the Ibis Brugge Centrum.
The hotel pickings are slim already for the weekend nights of April 7 and 8, with only a few hotels showing availability on both nights. The best bet for strolling, at a rate that won't take a year of cocoa bean picking wages to pay off, is the Ibis Brugge Centrum--at $178 per night. This is a mid-range 3-star hotel that's part of the Accor group, but in a historic building at least. It has a 24-hour snack bar, a reasonably priced restaurant, and rooms that are on the small side but well-kept. You'll probably want to skip that $15 breakfast though and grab something light nearby. (Plus while most 3-star hotels in the U.S. throw in free wi-fi now, here you'll pay a minimum of 10 euros to log on.)
Here's the description of the mouth-watering festival itself from What's On When:
The self-proclaimed Belgian chocolate capital goes a step further with chocolate sculpture contests, body painting, children's activities and a trail taking in the city's landmark chocolatiers such as Leonidas, Godiva and Neuhaus.
Brushing aside chocolate's sinful connotations, the festival reveals the health benefits of cocoa in massage, beauty therapy and skin products - so there's no reason to feel guilty about a little sweet indulgence.
The Ibis Brugge Centrum is a mile from the city center, so you can walk off the choco-laté afterwards too.
[Photo: David Wilmot]
· Bad Rate: Venere Comes Up Short for Our Chocolate Fix [HotelChatter]