“ Katelijnestraat 65A, Brugge. Hotel Ibis Brugge Centrum is located in the hart of the historical centre of Bruges. Bruges; The Venice of the North, with its numerous canals and historical buildings. „
Last year, I took advantage of a special offer from Superfast Ferries and sailed to Belgium, the intention being to do a bit of shopping and spend some time in Bruges. As we were staying overnight, we needed a hotel, and the hotel we chose was the IBIS BRUGGE CENTRUM.
Booking this hotel is simplicity itself. The website is very easy to use and once you complete the search for your chosen property, just fill in your details and three clicks later your room is booked.
It's also easy to cancel - we had to change our booking due to a fff...fowl-up with the ferry company. Within a few minutes, I typed in my confirmation number, cancelled, and booked a room for the following night.
IBIS hotels are part of the ACCOR group which includes the hotels chains of Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel and Etap, among others.
According to Ibis, all their hotels offer -
"Excellent service and quality at the best possible prices: comfortable rooms with bathrooms, a 24-hour reception desk, a cosy bar area, snack service at any time day or night and usually a varied choice of restaurants. Ibis hotels stand out in their category by their strong concentration in city centers and easy access. Ibis is committed to solving any little problem you have within fifteen minutes. Otherwise, you will be our guest*."
* The only time I've had a problem at an Ibis was with a key not working and the problem was rectified immediately. I have read of other people having problems but again, it's sorted out quick as a flash - I suppose if they are offering a free room if the problem isn't fixed in 15 minutes, it's a great incentive to speed things up!
They have 625 hotels with 65,964 rooms spread over 33 countries.
* LOCATION *
The hotel has a good position in the historic city centre (hence the name!), close to the Béguinage, the Sant Jean and Gruuthuuse museums, and a 5 minute stroll from the canals. It's situated at Katelijnestraat 65A, which is around 750m southwest of the Burg. Sharing a paved square with some offices and the Novotel, just off a busy shopping street, it's relatively easy to find as the Begijnhof car park - directly beneath the hotel, is well sign-posted and, as it's a straight drive of a few hundred metres in from the Katelijne Poort, there's no need to attempt the horrendous one-way system.
Ibis hotels are usually in modern, characterless buildings but this one, although modern, is partly housed within the brick façade of a 15th-century convent in a peaceful, landscaped square.
* CHECK-IN *
The immediate entrance area had quite a tropical feel about it - whether this was the profusion of potted plants placed in every conceivable space, the sunlight streaming through the large, glass doorway, or the fact that the heating seemed to be cranked full on, I don't know. Anyway, we hacked our way through to the open-plan reception area and, after handing over our booking reference number, the necessary paperwork was done in seconds flat. This was just after noon but there were no problems with the room being ready.
As you'd expect in a city where the official language is Flemish, the staff were multi-lingual and spoke perfect English.
The hotel has 128 rooms on 3 floors with elevator access.
* OUR ROOM *
If you've ever stayed in an Ibis, you'll know exactly what the room was like as they are all much the same. For those of you that haven't, let me describe it.
The room was spotless and decorated in an off-white colour which keeps it fairly bright. We had two twin beds with bedside cabinets - phone, clock/radio etc. - a work station/desk/dresser with internet link and adequate lighting, and a decent sized wardrobe with shelves and space to stow away the luggage. The room had cable TV with around 30 channels in a variety of languages but the good thing is (and we've found that all hotels in Belgium are the same), we had the British terrestrial channels. This meant that although far from home, we didn't have to miss any of the rubbish served up on a nightly basis!
The carpet, curtains and bedspread were typical of Ibis hotels, a swirling, green and amber design - it's not quite as bad as it sounds. I can't remember if the room had A/C, but as it was early March this wasn't really a big consideration. It did have individually-contolled heating.
The bathroom was pretty much standard with the usual furnishings (including bath tub), a decent shower, adequate toiletries and plenty of towels on the heated towel-rail. The bathroom was, as with the bedroom, spotlessly clean and tiled throughout with a spacious, well-lit vanity area and a large mirror.
A nice feature of this room was the fact that we were on the corner at the rear of the hotel and had windows on two sides - overlooking the square and a quiet backstreet. Most of the buildings adjacent to us were low level and, although we were only one floor up, no-one overlooked our room. The room was also very quiet with minimal traffic on the street outside
* FACILITIES *
Restaurants in Ibis hotels tend to be themed and in this one, the theme was that of an Estaminet - a sort of French café. It certainly had that café look to it with tiled floors, small, rickety, wooden tables and chairs and a high ceiling. The large windows meant that it was very bright and airy and it looked quite inviting - not quite inviting enough it seems, for we chose to eat elsewhere!
There is also an adjacent bar which I did venture into. It was well-stocked with a large range of beers which I investigated with some interest.
* THE VERDICT *
Hotels in Bruges are not known for their low prices and in high season, this can be a very expensive city to stay in. We were therefore very pleased to come across this hotel at the rate of 59 euros (breakfast is not included). A hotel so close to the Grand Place in Bruges for this price is a real bargain. From the end of March the price per room rises to 90 euros so it was good timing on our part.
We have stayed in quite a few Ibis hotels, mainly because the standard is constant and the prices are usually pretty good. This one was no different.
If you're looking for somewhere special, romantic, or maybe a hotel with a touch of luxury, then the Ibis Brugge Centrum is probably not for you. But if you're looking for an inexpensive, decent hotel to lay your head after a busy day seeing the sights of this city, it's perfect.