Please note our writer visited Bruges prior to the coronavirus pandemic
Bruges is a family-friendly city, with plenty for children of all ages to enjoy – and almost all hotels make families welcome, offering extra beds and cots and/or adjoining rooms. Many of the most accommodating family-friendly hotels are also simply just the city's nicest hotels: some appeal to families for their more relaxed and easy-going ways, while for others the swimming pools are a huge draw. Here's our pick of the best family-friendly hotels in Bruges.
This is the only five-star hotel in Bruges. You might think it almost too grand for this little city, but the relaxed, professional polish of its staff, the pampering attention to detail, and the central location, make this a special place to stay, and at prices that are often surprisingly affordable. Formerly a convent, it was rebuilt in neo gothic style in the 1880s and has now been carefully refurbished in a scheme that mixes modern comfort with historic legacy. There are 110 rooms, including five family rooms and 17 suites. Every room is unique, but all are decorated in a comfortable, broadly historic-modern style.
There are two parts to the hotel: the old building at the front (three mansions fused together), and a neat, ultra-modern block at the back, overlooking the canal. All this is remarkable given that, not long ago, part of the site – the historic Huis de Zeven Torens (House of the Seven Towers) – was a squatted wreck: this had been a famous palace in Bruges’ medieval heyday, and housed the future Charles II of England during his exile in the 1650s. There 118 rooms, 44 in the old building at the front, and 74 in the modern extension: families can stay in triple and quadruple configurations, and cots and extra beds are available.
The name Aragon refers back to Burgundian times, when Bruges was part of the Spanish Netherlands (1579–1713), but this soberly neoclassical mansion has been thoroughly refurbished and modernised. The result strikes a balance between the efficient and the comfortable, with easy-on-the-eyes fawns and browns and pastel shades, painted and limed wood finishes and tidy upholstered furniture. All the 42 rooms – Standard, Executive (with a little seating area) and Triple – are smartly presented in classic-modern style, and restful colour schemes. The hotel also has 20 equally well-presented holiday apartments for up to seven people, around the corner in Kuipersstraat.
The Pand is a well-established boutique hotel of great comfort and charm. Occupying a grand former town house, the property has been beautifully refurbished and stands in a quiet street close to everywhere you want to be in Bruges. The 26 bedrooms – ranked as Charming, Charming Plus, Junior Suite and Master Suite – are all different and individually and luxuriously decorated, but Ralph Lauren wallpapers and fabrics are a predominant theme. For families there are cots, extra beds, highchairs and babysitting services. Junior Suites have sofa beds (maximum three people to a room), while the Master Suite can comfortably accommodate a family of four.
Although one of Bruges’ larger hotels, there is a special, admirable quality about Hotel Navarra. Behind its grand, ambassadorial frontage is a well-run, family-owned, modern hotel, close to the centre – and, given its four-star comforts (plus jazz bar and a small swimming pool), it is attractively priced. Of the 94 efficiently modern accommodations there are a number of triple rooms and family rooms with double sofa beds. Children up to 12, sharing with adults, stay free. Extra beds are available at €20 (£17) per night. The “Wellness Centre”, in the old wine cellars, includes a gym, sauna, and a pretty 10m swimming pool.
Five 18th-century mansions with even older origins – the central one once belonging to the merchants of Amsterdam – were rolled into one in the 19th century, with the result that the interior still has a pleasantly labyrinthine feel. There is still a strong sense of history in the public rooms and conference rooms on the ground floor, with stuccoed ceilings, chandeliers and antique furniture. The 44 rooms are divided into three categories, by size: “Charming”; “Great”, which includes a sofa bed creating accommodation for up to four people; and “Exceptional” suites, the size of an apartment, with a separate sitting area. All have views either of the garden, or over the canal.
This large, modern, four-star hotel stands at the very heart of Bruges, overlooking one of its most attractive historic squares. The hotel's exterior, in red brick with round arches, is a modern take on the Romanesque style. The interior is sleek, spacious and international, although one section occupies old historic buildings, where original features have been preserved. It may not have the intimate, antique charm of some of the city's hotels, but it has professional polish and a range of attractive features, including an indoor swimming pool. Family rooms of various configurations are available.
This attractively priced, family-run hotel occupying a grand 19th-century mansion has a patrician ease that chimes with its name. It's in a quiet location and has a large garden to the rear, but is also close to the city centre; all there is to see in Bruges lies within easy walking distance. Each of the 16 rooms is different, but all share the same classical, light and airy country-house style, evoking the 18th and 19th centuries, with Regency-stripe wallpaper and and Empire-style furniture. Superior rooms have sofa beds, and the family room has a double bed plus a second bedroom with two singles. Cots are available.
This medium-sized, four-star hotel sits on Wijngaardstraat, a small and picturesque cobbled street in the southern part of the historic centre. The main building was the 18th-century on-site residence of the owner of the Anker brewery, and a few features recall this historic past, such as the façade with its stone anchors over the arches, the ornate front lounge, and the brick-vaulted breakfast room. Otherwise the hotel is modern, comprised of three buildings around a spacious courtyard garden, with seating. There are eight triple rooms and four quad rooms that serve families well.
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. 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. Relaxed, easygoing and friendly while also comfortable and professional; it's an engaging place to stay, and conveniently close to the city centre. Children up to three years old stay for free; cots are provided (book ahead). There are triple rooms and family rooms for up to four people.
Once a grand old private house, and a school in the 19th century, this four-star hotel has an atmospheric, historic grandeur. There is such a huge range among the 37 rooms that they are divided into eight categories, from small single and double rooms, beautifully refurbished, up in the old servants’ attic, to a lavish Triple Junior Suite and the individually styled Duplex Garden Suites in the wing overlooking the garden (the bedroom of one of these is in a meticulously restored Neogothic chapel). Two are family rooms accommodating four people each, and cots and extra beds are available for families of up to five.
Flanders Hotel offers modern, well-presented, polished accommodation close to the centre. There are two gardens, one small with a fish pond and fountain, and another larger formal garden with seating and adjacent to the bar. The hotel also has a small indoor swimming pool – a rarity in Bruges. There are 50 rooms, decorated in a sophisticated, easy-on-the-eye combination of grey, black, white, soft orange and green, including six triple rooms and one room for four or five people; the hotel can supply cots and extra beds. Children under eight years old, sharing with parents, go free.