Travelling to Belgium from the UK these days is a breeze, cheap flights, the Eurostar, Eurotunnel and of course regular ferry crossings, but for most of the latter it’s travel this side of the Channel which is the issue. From Stoke for example it’s about a four-hour non stop journey to Folkestone. Because of this when we’ve travelled before we booked a hotel down on the south coast to ease an early Chunnel time the following morning.
Now I realise of course that Watou is not on the English south coast, but it is only an hour away from Calais once across (or under) the water and as such is in easy striking distance. The other advantage is that you are also on very close proximity to Westvleteren, Struise, Alvinne for beery visits although transport is scarce.
Brouwershuis sits on a really quiet road about a mile away from Watou itself and although it is directly next door to the huge brewery plot which is unmissable (see above), hides away almost unnoticed behind high hedges in rustic country style. Driving in you are greeted with a tree-lined garden with quirky statues dotted about to catch the eye, somewhere to catch a bit of peace and quiet in the sun.
Once inside the hotel itself is a mixture of old country style and boutique chic, downstairs a huge book lined lounge with sofas, high backed chairs and old school gaming tables welcome you to kick back and relax.
A large conservatory dining area leads on to a secluded decking area with more seating alongside a large fishpond. In the evening we sat out here for a good while star gazing. One of our party is a keen astronomer and had thought to bring a pair of powerful binoculars to take advantage of the rural location. The effects were stunning as with so little light pollution, even with the naked eye the sky was a sea of shining diamonds.
The rooms are located throughout the main house, two levels up to a large attic room, with others in a single story building which stretches back into the gardens. Both seem equally well equipped although it did seem those inside had recently seen a make over. We were in the attic and it was a picture perfect room, with our friends housed on the lower level but having the benefit of an outside space with table and chairs provided to enjoy the warm summer evening.
The lounge has three or four well stocked fridges which contain the breweries entire range, these are freely available at any time of day on an honesty system, even the hotels promotional video suggests trying them with breakfast. (I was tempted, but resisted…)
Breakfast is a continental affair with ample selections of bread, cheeses, cold meats and pastry’s. There is the normal cereal selection too and options for eggs freshly cooked to your liking washed down with as much tea and coffee as you can guzzle.
My only regret about choosing Brouwershuis as a stop off point was only booking one night as none of us wanted to leave, it’s such a serene place to stay in a wonderful part of Belgium. Our host Jackie described it as “an island” and I can see exactly what she meant. A peaceful welcoming place with hospitality second to none, a world away from the busy hustle and bustle of Brussels and Bruges city centres.
I’m looking forward to getting marooned there again sometime very soon..
Note: A massive thank you to Jezza for the recommendation and contact information.