Let me be straight with you: had there been unlimited free cheese on offer at Bruges' Relais & Châteaux Hotel Heritage, I would have never left.
Located just 50 meters from the town's main square, Hotel Heritage (voted Best Luxury Boutique Hotel in 2014 at the World Luxury Hotel Awards) is the place to stay if you're looking to treat yourself. And for those traveling on a budget, it's worth keeping an eye out for their special offers. We booked our trip during the off-season when the hotel was running a 'buy two nights, get the third night free' deal, which saved us a whopping £150.
Upon entering our beautifully decorated room, my taller half and I were greeted by a bottle of complimentary bubbles and a note from the hotel owners congratulating us on making it two whole years without killing each other (although they may have worded it slightly differently). It's these small personal touches that really make Hotel Heritage stand out amongst its competitors, from the complimentary lemon water in the hotel lobby to the boxes of decadent Belgian chocolates included in the nightly turndown service. At one point during our stay, the electricity went out for an hour or so. Of course these things happen, but that evening we returned to our room to find a note apologizing for the inconvenience, accompanied by an additional assortment of Belgian chocolates. Basically, if the Hotel Heritage were your boyfriend, he'd be the kind of guy you bring home to meet your parents.
Another example of the hotel's personalized approach: every Thursday evening Johan and Isabelle, the hotel's immaculately-presented owners, host a meet & greet champagne reception in the lobby. This proved to be both a delight for us (more champagne? Oh, well, twist my arm!) and a smart move on Johan and Isabelle's part. When we mentioned we weren't too excited about venturing out into the cold that evening for dinner, Johan used the opportunity to convince us to give the hotel's restaurant a try.
First though, we stopped off for a pre-dinner drink in the hotel's bar, Le Magnum. Their impressive gin selection soon caught my taller half's attention, particularly a bottle of gin that's only made in Spain during the full moon. The drinks weren't cheap (my glass of wine was 9€ and the full moon G&T came to a heart-stopping 23€), but such is the way of hotel bars. The complimentary nibbles provided alongside our drinks were also a nice touch.
Next, we made our way to the restaurant. Located on the hotel's ground floor, Le Mystique is a fine-dining restaurant with Michelin Star aspirations. On our visit, the pressure was certainly on. Not only was the chef launching a new menu (with Johan and Isabelle front row and center to give their feedback), but a couple tables down from ours was what appeared to be a Michelin inspector, dutifully making notes on his iPad whenever the coast was clear.
After considering our options, my taller half chose to go with the tasting menu and accompanying wine pairings. As for myself, the chef seemed a bit perplexed with my hedonistic vegetarian ways, so I opted to order off the A La Carte menu instead. Upon asking to see the wine menu, I was presented with a list of wines by the bottle instead of by the glass. Unintended challenge accepted, I went ahead and ordered a bottle of white. To recap: that's an entire bottle of wine for my lightweight self, and a couple of relatively small dishes.
It's probably no surprise that the rest of the night is a bit foggy for me, but I do remember enjoying the food. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was the best meal I've ever had, but the flavor combinations and cooking techniques that the chef utilized were certainly impressive.
Dinner completed and copious amounts of wine consumed, we stumbled upstairs to our room and crashed out in the superbly soft bed (after I had greedily stuffed my face with chocolates, of course).
The rest of the weekend proceeded in a somewhat similar manner, with the Hotel Heritage providing an excellent base for our adventures. It was comfortable, well-located, and just decadent enough to make you feel a bit extravagant. The next time you find yourself in Bruges, I would definitely recommend booking a room in this fantastic hotel.
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