“ Address: Hoefijzerlaan 37 / B-8000 Bruges / Belgium „
My partner and I recently returned from a few days in Belgium. We decided to visit Bruges as it was somewhere neither of us had ever been and it was easy to get to by using the Eurostar and then a local train from Brussels.
While looking for a hotel I was a little shocked with just how expensive the hotels in Bruges actually were and most of them were easily over 200 Euros a night. It was a bit of a struggle to find a decent looking hotel that wasn't too far from the centre and wasn't going to cost the earth. I found the Koras hotel that is part of the Floris hotel group and they had rooms that were reasonably priced and weren't too far away from all the sights.
##### First impressions #####
First impressions of the hotel were really good. The hotel is housed in a picturesque building close to the centre and looks clean and modern while having an old world charm. Inside the reception area is ultra-modern with some really nice touches. It is light and airy with a few couches for guests to enjoy. There are some antiques and also some really modern and expensive looking modern pieces. It gives a great first impression and I was hopeful that the rooms would be just as good.
##### Checking in #####
Check in was stated as being 3 o'clock but we arrived about an hour early hopeful that they would have some rooms ready for us. Unfortunately they didn't but they did have a luggage room where we could leave our luggage while we went exploring. When we returned the receptionist was nowhere to be found and even after ringing the bell several times we still had to wait for 15 minutes for her to return. When she did return from wherever she had been there was no apology or explanation for our wait.
We had booked a special package with the hotel which was called the chocolate package and it was supposed to include a guide, map and entry to the chocolate museum along with a chocolate tasting. Unfortunately the receptionist that checked us in seemed to have no idea what the packages involved and told us to come see the other receptionist the next morning who would hopefully know more about it. To be honest she didn't seem particularly competent and this wasn't our only problem with the reception area. The hotel has big old fashioned keys that you are supposed to leave with reception when you leave the hotel but twice we returned to the hotel to find the receptionist MIA and having to wait around the reception area until one returned so that we could access our room again.
##### The rooms #####
After the great looking hotel lobby I was hopeful that the rooms were going to be just as nice but unfortunately they didn't come anywhere close.
The room was very basic in comparison with the communal areas of the hotel. The room had two single beds pushed together to make a double which is something I hate but they seem to do a lot abroad so I was kind of expecting this. Alongside the beds there was a spattering of furniture and the rooms looked a little sparse and the décor could do with some updating. There was a large flatscreen TV but channels were limited to local ones. There was no tea and coffee making facilities and only one pillow for each bed which I didn't think was very good. The one thing the room had going for it was that it was at the back of the hotel on a quiet side street and had windows that opened fully which with the hot weather was a welcome relief. There was also a ceiling fan above the beds which was on the whole time we were in the rooms.
The bathroom was as basic as the bedrooms and again could probably do with being updated a little. There was a bath as well as a shower above it. The shower was horrendous and had terrible pressure so was difficult to actually enjoy and it was more a case of quickly dipping in it and then out again. There were also some toiletries included but these were just basic shampoo and shower gel. Towels were plentiful and in the corridor there was a cupboard which was open where you could help yourself to more towels if you needed them.
##### Facilities #####
The facilities on offer at the hotel were quite good. There was an indoor swimming pool which we used on a couple of occasions. It was housed in a large room with sky lights and several lounge chairs surrounding it. It wasn't a massive pool but big enough for two to use comfortable so it was lucky it was quiet every time we went to it.
There was also a gym but I use this term loosely as there was only one running machine, a weight set, pilates ball and a punch bag.
As well as the reception area which also doubles as the hotel bar (when there is actually someone there to serve you) there is also a 'chill out area' and a kids corner with a TV and games console to use.
WIFI was free throughout the hotel and worked every time I connected to it with no problems.
If you arrive by car there is a car park but you have to pay for this and places are limited to a first come first served basis.
##### Breakfast #####
Breakfast is included in the room rate at the hotel so I wasn't expecting too much and to be honest it's just as well as there wasn't a huge choice on offer. There were only two hot items to choose from which were bacon and eggs and the usual selection of ham and cheese along with croissants and yoghurts. Coffee was in plentiful supply which to be honest was all I was really worried about and since it was free I can't complain too much about the selection.
The breakfast room was quite small and the majority of the tables were actually benches where you would have to sit with other guests. As we arrived early each morning it was never too busy so we didn't have a problem finding a seat. Service was absolutely terrible though. There was only two people in the kitchen replenishing the food and also cleaning the tables. On one occasion we arrived for breakfast at 8 which is when breakfast is supposed to be served only to find the breakfast room still locked. We stood waiting for 25 minutes alongside a group of other guests only to again get no explanation or apology for the delay in opening the breakfast room so we could get breakfast. They were also really slow at cleaning up the used dishes but I don't blame this on the staff as the two women doing the breakfast were run off their feet and the hotel should really employ someone else to help out.
##### Location #####
The location of the hotel was fantastic. It was just out of the centre about a two minute walk to the concertgebouw and about a ten minute walk to the Burg and Markt Square. The t'zand square where the Concertgebouw is located had loads of bars and restaurants which were considerably cheaper than those in the Markt. There was also a huge underground car park in the square if you are arriving by car and need somewhere to park.
##### Prices #####
The hotel does several different packages which work out cheaper booking direct than when booking a room through somewhere like booking.com. We opted for the chocolate package which is 168 Euros when arriving Sunday to Thursday two nights. The package goes up to 268 Euros for arrivals at the weekend. Other packages include a beer package and a love package.
##### Conclusion #####
Although the service at the hotel could do with being improved dramatically the location and more importantly the price do make up for this somewhat. Bruges is a beautiful city and even though the city has hundreds of hotels it is an extremely expensive place to stay and the Koras hotel is a good budget option. The rooms were basic but clean and as you will be spending most of your time admiring the city that's all you really need at the end of the day. The fact that for the money the hotel is actually in Bruges and not on the outskirts is also something else it has in its favour. If not for the rubbish staff then I would be recommending the hotel more than I am. If you can accept the random disappearances of the members of staff with no explanations then the Koras hotel does make a good base from which to explore the beauty of Bruges.