I hadn't been to Brugge for nearly ten years and had always retained a desire to return there again at some point. My wife had never been there, so I was looking forward not only to going back there for myself, but also for her to see this city of wonderful architecture and history for the first time.
We'd found the Ter Brughe via the Internet and booked it direct. E-Mail communications from the hotel's staff were courteous and promptly sent. We travelled via Eurostar and paid £118 return for the two of us from London St Pancras International.
The hotel is conveniently located about ten minutes drive or so from Brugge's railway station. The taxi fare there was 8 Euros.
First impressions of the Ter Brughe were very favourable. The hotel is situated by the canal, with the entrance situated down a narrow, cobbled street about a five to ten minute, leisurely and picturesque stroll from the Markt area of the City.
Reception is reached via a small flight of stairs. The manager (least, I think he was the manager) was on duty at reception when we arrived. Our greeting was businesslike, but he was pleasant enough in that typically efficiently Belgian sort of way. We'd got there an hour or so before our official check-in time, but instead of just telling us to sit and wait, he actively endeavoured to get the room ready for us within twenty minutes and we were both grateful for that.
We'd asked for a deluxe room overlooking the canal. The room was reached by going up a steepish three flights of stairs - there is no lift at the hotel. I am not sure of when and when not to is correct hotel etiquette to ask for somebody to help you carry you luggage to your room when you first arrive at a hotel, but I felt it was inappropriate to ask at this one, so we carried our own bags to the room and no offer was made to assist us with it. I guess you are talking London Hilton class before you get any help with luggage and get shown to your room.
The deluxe room we’d booked was large and very well-furnished and decorated in an antique Flemish style. You needed to put the key in a lock-type 'light switch' for the lighting to work. The room had two sets of large, shuttered windows and two very comfortable armchairs nearby them - ideal for sitting by them, with a glass of wine or two, overlooking the canal below.
The bathroom had 'his' and 'hers' sinks and a loo with a turbo flush. It also came with a spacious and deep bath. On the down side, for some reason, there was what I found to be a totally inadequate handheld shower head, affixed in the middle of the bath. This meant you couldn't have just a proper standing-up shower. Unsurprisingly, given the context of where the showerhead was, there was also no shower curtain, either.
The room also came with a decently-stocked but uninspiring of choice mini-bar. Prices were not cheap (2.5 Euros for a small Jupiler), but that's pretty much par for the course in a pricy place like Brugge and reflective of hotel mini-bar prices in general. A hairdryer, safe and an electric mosquito repellent (very much an essential, believe me) were also supplied.
Along with the somewhat weird shower set-up, the other downsides/niggles to the room, were some pretty poor quality towels, a tiny (given the size of the room) 14” TV (albeit, with a good selection of UK channels) with a broken remote control unit, replaced quickly with a remote control best operated by contortionists (you had to push and hold the batteries in whilst changing channels at the same time) for it to be remotely effective. Oh, and you also got no kettle. "It is not the custom in Belgium," we were told when we asked if a kettle could be provided. So, if you fancy a brew outside of breakfast hours, you'll either need to bring your own tea and coffee making facilities, purchase teas and coffees from the hotel or go elsewhere.
A negative event in the room outside of the guests’ control took place on the first morning. We'd slept with the windows open and were awoken around 8ish with the sound of a number of men shouting from below our window. Soon after, a crane (similar to what you get on a fire engine) appeared at our window with two men standing on its platform area. Checking they weren't from the Belgian Rescue Service, we soon realised they’d popped by to paint the woodwork exterior of the hotel just above our window. I don't know what was more shocking and for whom: the sight of us starkers on top of the bed, or our tourist bottoms being exposed so literally to a couple of builders with theirs so well-covered up. A prior warning of this event happening from the management on our check-in day would have been very much appreciated to save both sides from unnecessary pain, suffering and shock.
As for the rest of it, breakfast was substantial enough (in a cold meats, breads, juices and cereals kind of way - typical Belgian morning food), courteously served in a lovely dining room overlooking the canal, the reception staff, on the whole, were polite, but for me, I found not overly so overall. For what gives the impression of small, family-run type establishment, an unprompted 'good morning' and perhaps a line or two of small talk (i.e. "Are you enjoying your stay in Brugge?" ) would have been good, but for us at least, it was not forthcoming, but perhaps I am expecting too much.
To sum up, I found the Ter Brughe, attractively situated, of high decorative standard outside and in, with a lovely terrace area to enjoy a drink at. It also had efficient staff, some more pleasant than others. Our three night stay cost 375 Euros for our deluxe room and for an at times horrifically expensive place like Brugge, I felt that cost represented very reasonable value overall. The shortcomings I've listed in this review that we encountered would probably put us both off from staying at the Ter Brughe again. There are plenty more nicely-located hotels in the City to choose from and we may well go self-catering next time we come back.
I certainly wouldn’t go as far as not to recommend this hotel to others. As you can tell from the vast majority of reviews on this site about it, most people are very complimentary about their stay, and I would emphasise that the hotel does have a number of very positive qualities about it.
As for Brugge itself: my memories of the place I'd last visited back in 1998 were generally enhanced rather than spoilt. I found that if you keep away from the overpriced and snooty restaurants you can find around the Markt, manned by sour-faced and haughty waiters in bow ties and straw boaters, then there are some excellent eating places to discover and at better prices. We both were impressed with the quality of some of the restaurants near the stature of Jan van Eyck. We also found there are also much cheaper supermarkets if you venture out towards Damme. For example: a bottle of Duvel for less than 1 Euro, when the same thing can cost up to 2.50 Euros nearer the Markt. The canal boat trip to Damme itself we found well-worthy of recommendation. It costs about 14 Euros return for two adults, with pleasant crew and a competitively priced bar on board. A lovely way to spend a lazy summer's day in this beautiful city, we both thought.
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- Also Known As:
- Ter Brughe Hotel
- Ter Brughe Bruges