The 10 Best Canal Hotels for a Charming Stay in Bruges

Bruges, Belgium
Photo by KavalenkavaVolha/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Antony Mason, The Telegraph, December 23, 2019

One of the great charms of Bruges is its canals, which wind through the historic centre of the city. Some of these are quiet backwaters, overhung by willows, frequented by swans; others are busy with canal tour boats, but these stop at night, leaving the waters still to reflect the skyline of spires and stepped gables. Overlooking a canal gives these hotels and b&bs something extra special, and many of them exploit the location to full advantage with terraces or gardens at the water’s edge. Here's our pick of the best canal hotels in Bruges.

B&B Huis Koning

8Telegraph expert rating

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A pampered and memorable place to stay in this very special city. Huis Koning sits on Oude Zak, a quiet street in a quiet corner of Bruges, to the north-west of – and an agreeable 10-minute walk from – the historic centre. But it is the way that it backs onto a pretty, tree-shaded stretch of canal, the Augustijnenerei, that really sets it apart. Swans and ducks paddle past as you breakfast on the parasol-shaded terrace. Huis Koning retains its historic air, with atmospheric antique charm. But the décor is also alluringly modern, with a fashionable taupe paint scheme (soft greys and browns), offset by antique and retro furniture and artistic details.

From £118per night

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Hotel Van Cleef

9Telegraph expert rating

There is no other place to stay in Bruges quite like this: a small luxury boutique hotel in a neoclassical mansion with large terrace overlooking a pretty stretch of canal. It's family-owned and managed, and designed with exquisite attention to detail; at once gloriously palatial yet intimate. The ample public rooms are decorated in elegant and comfortable country-house style, enlivened by striking contemporary art and fabrics. Hotel Van Cleef is on the edge of the Sint-Anna district, the charming, quieter eastern quarter of Bruges; yet the Markt, Burg and all the key sights of the historic city centre are a mere five or so minutes’ walk away.

From £177per night

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• The most romantic hotels in Bruges

Canal Deluxe Bed and Breakfast

9Telegraph expert rating

Bruges has a handful of truly exceptional b&bs, and this is one of them. It's close to the centre, yet quietly located on a tranquil canal, and oozes charm, individuality, pampering luxury, antiquity and style. If a romantic place to stay in this city of romance is what you are seeking, look no further. Canal Deluxe occupies a pair of historic houses set some distance away from Moerstraat. Two of the rooms (in fact duplex suites) are accessed from 24 Moerstraat, and the remaining three from a tiny cobbled alleyway called Vette Vispoort (Fatty Fish Gate; a reference to herring), opposite an almshouse.

From £143per night

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Hotel De Orangerie

8Telegraph expert rating

Romantic, sumptuous and historic. There is a theatrical opulence to the entrance, with a lobby swathed in fabric, but this soon melts into the old-world grandeur of the wood-panelled breakfast/tea room and adjacent lounge. Elsewhere the style could be called English Country Manor: light, floral and agreeably rambling (the building started life as a 15th-century convent). While tucked away in a quiet street, the hotel could hardly be more central – just a short walk from main historic squares and key attractions. Its large terrace at the back overlooks a famously picturesque stretch of canal called Den Dijver, and is the envy of the many tourists who pass in tour boats, and who throng the opposite bank.

From £118per night

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• The best hotels in Bruges city centre

Guesthouse Bonifacius

9Telegraph expert rating

This is a fabulous place to stay: a medieval and 16th-century house, overlooking a canal, exquisitely decorated and equipped to the standard of a top luxury hotel. The b&b takes its name from the Bonifacius Bridge close by, a famous Bruges beauty spot in the little Arentshof park. There are just three rooms, each different, each beautifully decorated in modern-antique style, with Ralph Lauren and Toile de Jouy fabrics and wallpaper, elegant pastel paint schemes for the wood panelling, and a sprinkling of genuine antiques and interesting objets d’art. Breakfast is served at tables in the 'Gothic Room' overlooking the canal, warmed by an open log-effect fire in winter.

From £159per night

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Côté Canal and Huyze Hertsberge

8Telegraph expert rating

Grand, spacious and relaxed, this luxury b&b feels a bit like a rambling country house – except it is in a prime and privileged location in central Bruges, with a garden overlooking the city’s prettiest stretch of canal. It has been formed out of two 18th-century houses, joined together at ground-floor level, with four bedrooms spread between them. All are spacious, with high ceilings, and are individually decorated in pastel colours and elegant fabrics, offset by pieces of antique furniture. Fourth-generation owner Caroline Van Langeraert is determined to preserve the historic flavour of her old family home, and it is her gift for design, attention to detail and charm that are the making of this exceptional b&b.

From £162per night

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Guesthouse Nuit Blanche

8Telegraph expert rating

Nuit Blanche stands next to the St Bonifacius Bridge, a stone footbridge (also called ‘the lovers’ bridge’) linking Bruges’ top art museum, the Groeningemuseum, to the Church of Our Lady (with its Michelangelo) and the Saint John’s Hospital museum (with its collection of paintings by Hans Memling). With flagstone floors, big open fireplaces, antique wood panelling, exposed beams, leaded windows with stained glass, the house feels like a little late-medieval mansion. There are numerous excellent restaurants close by, including Michelin-starred Den Gouden Harynck in the same street, and Den Heerd, a short walk away.

From £165per night

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Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce

8Telegraph expert rating

The 'Cruyce' is the cross in the emblem of the Dukes of Burgundy, who made Bruges their capital in 1429 and became a byword for opulence – an apt reference for this luxury boutique hotel in the heart of historic Bruges. Behind the medieval façades are sumptuous but modern rooms, managed with refined professionalism. It could barely be more central too, just south of the main historic squares, the Markt and the Burg, and within easy walking distance from all the key sights. What’s more, it overlooks one of the most famous scenic viewpoints of Bruges, on a bend in the principal canal.

From £134per night

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Monsieur Ernest

8Telegraph expert rating

Monsieur Ernest Bar & Hotel is a hotel with a difference; an upbeat, club-like atmosphere, designed to appeal to the young and the young at heart. This was the former site of a brewery, the Brouwerij De Sleutels, and a striking feature of the entrance lobby is the elaborate, 19th-century wrought-iron staircase that partially obstructs access to the reception desk. It’s a historic building, but refurbished with design flair to a pared-down, modern look, with a hint of nostalgia in the large black-and-white photographs. One side of the hotel overlooks a pretty stretch of canal called the Speelmansrei, where it passes under the old stone Sleutelbrug (Key Bridge).

From £90per night

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This article was written by Antony Mason from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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