Along with just a backpack and no strict agenda, we also tried to stay away from big hotels on our most recent trip to Europe. Not only were we trying to do it cheaper, but we wanted a more localized feel as well. We were considering hostels but after doing some research it actually ended up being about the same price if not cheaper for a Bed and Breakfast.We ended up mostly staying at B&B’s and small apartments. These were much bigger than the standard European hotel rooms which are known to be almost nonfunctional to American standards.
Our favorite B&B was one we actually stumbled upon without reservations. This was located in Brugge, Belgium and was owned by an older woman and her son. We walked in the door to see if any rooms were available and they welcomed us with open arms. They were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met with amazing customer service. They actually showed us our options of rooms and let us decide if we wanted to stay or not. I wish we would have done this for all of the hotels, because that way, you know what you’re getting. We popped into 2 or 3 other hotels prior to deciding to go with this one.
The two nights we were there, I felt like I was staying with my grandmother. Each day she would see us off and ask us what we had planned. They really made it a point to get to know you and make conversation. This is not something that happens at a standard hotel. We also had our own key to the house if we came back late and they served a very nice breakfast in the morning. The home itself was also very welcoming with an old grand wood staircase that led up to the 9 rooms. The rooms were large and had gorgeous beamed ceilings. It was also in a quiet area with only a few minutes’ walk from the main center. If you walked the opposite way of the center, there is a quiet non-touristy canal just around the corner.
I found out later that this home was actually situated in a building that used to be a part of the ‘Prinsenhof ’ (Court of Princes), the residence of the dukes of Burgundy dating back to the second half of the 14th century. Now that’s the culture I was looking for, much better than a Hilton built in the 21 century! This B&B was a great local experience and I definitely recommend it to others.
We had worried that it might be a hassle to find a hotel, but it was really quite simple because they are literally everywhere you turn. All and all, bed and breakfasts can be the cheaper route, but I would suggest finding one when you’re there as opposed to reserving prior so you know what you’re actually getting. We had less pleasant experiences than this one on our trip.