While Westvleteren, Belgium has typically only surfaced on travel itineraries for history buffs, it has recently experienced a resurgence in tourism as many craft beer aficionados make the pilgrimage to visit the region’s breweries in and around the quaint village of Westvleteren, located in the far-flung edge of West Flanders. The problem is that there aren’t enough hotels to accommodate the new flood of traffic. Of those that do exist, Hotel ‘T Heilig Genot is one of the best, providing a comfortable stay and a delicious breakfast.
A leaping-off point to the region’s historic sites and breweriesThe hotel is located in the rather sleepy village of Westvleteren under the shadow of Saint Martinus church. The hotel itself is a former presbytery, which lends to the historic appeal helping to land the bed and breakfast on many itineraries for those traveling to the region to explore the area history. From Westvleteren, tourists can drive or bike to the many WWI battlefields and cemeteries in the area. The most famous of which is First World War Ypres Salient.
Lately, beer has been attracting tourists to Westvleteren. Mainly, beer pilgrims go to drink Westvleteren 12, hailed by authorities like Beer Advocate as the best beer in the world. Westvleteren 12 is brewed at Saint Sixtus Abbey. The Trappist Abbey itself is not open to the public; however, their beer is served across the street at In de Vrede. Don’t just visit Saint Sixtus for the beer though; the walking trails of the grounds are also worth exploring. Other breweries in Westvleteren that deserve a visit include Saint Bernardus and De Struise.
A comfortable, modern stayThe building has been renovated with many modern touches and designs that make it a comfortable and clean spot to rest your head for the night. The rooms are all very spacious with plenty of room to spread out. The open, walk-in shower in the bathrooms is a unique touch adding to the hotel’s style. Each room also has a mini-fridge to store the beer you’ll be collecting along the way (or water for the hangover…). The boutique hotel has eight rooms tiered into Comfort for 85 EUR (approximately 93 USD) or Luxury for 110 EUR (approximately 120 USD).
The grounds and public areas of the building are just as comfortable as the rooms. Behind the hotel is an English garden to relax in or enjoy breakfast (included with the price of the hotel). Or, purchase a bottle of beer from the hotel’s collection and enjoy it with new friends while enjoying a cool evening breeze. On the second floor of the hotel is a large library with plenty of books, DVDs, and board games.
A hearty breakfastWhether you’re in Westvleteren to visit historic sites or brewery hop, it’s best to start your day on a full stomach with a hearty breakfast. Hotel ‘T Heilig Genot has you covered with a large breakfast buffet covering everything from continental to European to American options. I especially enjoyed the streaky bacon with a homemade omelet.
The hotel does not serve lunch or dinner though. There are plenty of area restaurants to choose from. If you don’t have transportation, the hotel has arranged free transportation to and from the area’s best restaurants. This is an ideal option if you plan to indulge in more beer tasting. I recommend ‘T Molenhof. The beer knowledge of the servers is very impressive and the menu of both beer and food is a great example of West Flanders.
A great example of Belgium hospitality
Everywhere I went in Westvleteren, staff seemed to go out of their way to please customers. Hotel ‘T Heilig Genot was no exception. The owner greets you at reception with a smile, drives you to area restaurants, and serves you breakfast. She’s also a wealth of knowledge to help plan your visit. Please note that check-in is from 5-7.30pm so be sure to plan accordingly. Also, book ahead. This is a small hotel and will fill up. I met several beer tourists who were sleeping in their cars because they couldn’t find a room for the night.
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