Shhh, another brilliant secret getaway…..Ghent and the Belgian Coast. Belgium is SO cool for so many reasons, not least that it’s so unexpected! Everyone will know about the canals of medieval Bruges and the Grand Place of Brussels, possibly even Antwerp for it’s diamonds but few will know of the beautiful and relaxed city of Ghent, the fantastic Art Nouveau architecture found across Flanders or the love of vintage and design that you will find here. In fact the 70s bird fabric that is our title design was bought here – a massive piece for just 10 euros – a fraction of what it would have cost in the uk!
We set ourselves a task every time we think about going away to find the most unusual and often cheap places to stay that we can possibly find. In fact at least half the fun of any trip is the searching out some new and exciting place to stay! Ghent saw us in possibly my favourite ever find, the Ecohostel Andremeda.
The Barge Andremeda complete with water treatment reed bed on deck
Mainly a floating hostel with dorms we did manage to bag the only private double room which was literally 70s heaven for me! Here’s some of my favourite photos of the decor on board.
They take the Eco element very seriously on this boat – all of the toilet and shower water is recycled by the reed bed on the main deck and as well as the extensive repurposing on board there is also a fab organic breakfast available in the kitchen. The place could not be more welcoming and friendly. An all round win!
Ghent itself is a gem of a place. It’s an ancient university town with a castle and lots of stunning buildings. The food is good (especially the rib house next to the castle) but don’t ask for rice with your local chicken soup, Waterzooi! The great things here are the gin bars which are absolutely amazing and often with lovely views over the canals, and also the local elderflower aperitif called Roomer. This comes in a beautiful bottle, is a pretty golden colour and has tiny flowers in it. It’s to die for and even better with gin of course, my favourite tipple!
Historic Market Hall – great place to buy local specialties and have lunch
There is also the fantastic Gent Design Museum which covers design of all periods including a fantastic teapot exhibition and also a complete art deco room moved from a local home that just has to be seen to be believed it’s so beautiful.
checking out the design museum ceramics exhibits
After a couple of brilliant days in Ghent we headed off to Westende on the coast to a truly remarkable hotel called De Rotonde which purely by chance was run by a family from Ghent and so was stocked up with Roomer.
Hotel De Rotonde
The most remarkable thing about this hotel is that it is still here at all after being almost totally destroyed by the bombardments of two wars. Our favourite thing about it though (apart from the great dinner!) was the sea view from every room as it’s right on the vast unspoilt beach. It is also right be the Belgian Coastal Tram (De Kusttram) which is not only cheap and easy to use but takes you through some fantastic windswept scenery.
A fantastic spot for any winter beach lover
You can stop off where you like and see more of the Belgian coast than just the port at Ostende. Including the toy town seaside resort of De Haan, the prize resort of King Leopold and a prime example of the faded grandeur of the area.
De Haan Station on the Tramway
If you get to Belgium also check out Antwerp for some amazing architecture ranging from renaissance squares to fabulous modernist and art deco.
Not to mention diamonds and amazing shopping due to the students of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts with its large fashion department. Shopping ranges from high price tag to new young designer and extensive vintage shopping.
All in all Belgium is a fantastic short break destination and one of my favourite places to visit full of surprises and hidden gems!
Keep the vintage love xx