I wasn’t actually looking for a monastery, just a hotel, but I took this one when it came up on http://www.trivago.com/.
Trivago is a site that lets you compare offers from various agencies (as onetime.com was meant to do) and lets you choose which one to book through.
For some reason I did the actual booking through a large German travel agency called DerTour, which had come up on Trivago. This turned out to be unnecessarily complicated, because DerTour mainly arranges package tours to faraway places, so there is lots of paperwork that is quite ludicrous if you are just doing something simple like booking a hotel room in Belgium.
The price I paid (in advance) was € 65 per night for a single room with en suite facilities. Breakfast was also included in the price.
Like most things in Ghent, the Monasterium PoortAckere has a long history. It was founded in the year 1278 as a beguine house (compare my tip on the Beguinage in Brugge) and was used for various religious purposes until the time of the French Revolution, when it was confiscated by the town council. In 1863 the site was sold to Count Joseph De Hemptinne, who is described on the PoortAckere website as “a notorious Maecenas of the Neogothic Movement.”
At first there were plans to restore the old medieval buildings, but instead a new cloister was built, in the neogothic style that was popular at the time. So most of the buildings of PoortAckere are from the 19th century, not the 13th.
Later I looked up this notorious Count Joseph De Hemptinne and found out that he was a rich industrialist who made his fortune by exploiting the workers at his textile factory in Ghent. He was well-known as a spokesman for the far right wing of Belgian Catholics. He supported several reactionary Catholic newspapers and later financed Catholic missions in the “Belgian” Congo.
After the Second World War the buildings at PoortAckere were used as orphanage, then as a house for young women, later as a student residence and finally as a nunnery. In 1998 there were still six nuns living on the premises, “but due to the extravagant maintenance costs the buildings were sold.”
Now a private investor has renovated the old buildings and transformed them into a hotel with a seminar center and a restaurant. The site still has some of its old monastic atmosphere (with little candles in the halls and religious music playing softly in the background at breakfast), but nobody tried to proselytize me or save my soul or anything like that, so I felt fine there and came out feeling just as secular as when I went in.
My room was in the House of the Rector (first photo) and was fine though of course rather dark and gloomy as befits a former monastery.
Directions: Location on Google Maps
As a hospitality professional, I like to tour hotels- especially ones that I had originally intended to stay. This has a very special atmosphere. It is not as large as their website would have you believe. I toured the most basic hostel single and it was bare bones but very clean looking. The most stunning section- the former chapel- is used mainly for private events. The breakfast room is a bit less dramatic. This is a little more of a walk into the heart of the city. Would recommend for a second visit unless one needed to be closer to the student area.
Unique Quality: The former chapel. The overall ambiance.
For a characterful hotel in central Gent this place is a must. The building was formerly a monastery (hence the name) and all of its original features are substantially unaltered. My budget single room (with shared facilities) was one of the monk's cells and whilst plain and simple, as expected, was surprisingly spacious, the bed comfortable and a practical work desk ideal had I been intending to stay for a few days.
Reception was welcoming and friendly and on departure I needed to borrow a needle and thread to make some emergency repairs to my overnight bag which was no problem.
I was only here for an all-too-brief overnighter, arriving about 10.30 pm and departing the following morning but I was suitably impressed with my initial impressions and will certainly put this place at the top of my list next visit.
One thing to note is that if using www.booking.com this is listed as the Guesthouse PoortAckere but is locally known as the Monasterium.
Unique Quality: The building itself is its outstanding feature. Whilst the furniture, lighting etc (including excellent freebie WiFi throughout) are fully modernised the hotel retains all of its original features and character of its former incarnation as a monastery including its magnificently vaulted chapel. Bedrooms are plain and simple but not as austere as perhaps you might expect and the public areas, such as the dining room, give you a taste of the Medieval lifestyle without compomising on the little luxuries you might want from a 21st century city visit.
The location is great too - a few minutes walk from the old city (and close to the #1 tram line), which of course made it ideal for the continuance of my monk-like stay as the beers of the of the other Belgian monasteries had to be sampled in the old city's bars ;-HIC!
Directions: About 5 minutes walk east of the old city, on a side street that runs parallel to the canal where the Graslei is.
For our St. Valentine weekend this was a nice place to sleep. Not the ordinary hotel atmosphere but a serene and restful atmosphere in a converted nunnery was what we needed for our romantic get-away. Don't expect great luxury, rather enjoy something different.
We had a room in the "slot" (one of the more expensive rooms) which lies on the courtyard away from street noices. The room was spacious with a separate sitting area and a bathroom with rainshower. The room was lovely decorated. It had TV, coffee/tea making facilities and a hairdryer.
Breakfast (not included in the room price: 12.5 €/person) was good with plenty of choice, served in a lovely room with neogothic arches in the Chapter house.
Unique Quality: Parking on the premises (10 €/d).
Directions: Round the corner from the centre of the old town.
This used to be an old Monasterium.
Rooms are made in the old convent cells.
It is worth the experience.
Or they have also some guest rooms
Unique Quality: The environment and the idea of sleeping in an old convent.
Directions: In the city centre at 2 minutes walk of all interesting points
60 Euro breakfast included
Unique Quality: Monastery completely renovated with nice garden. Really in the city center but without the noise disturbing your night's sleep. Walking distance to almost everything. Car park (call in advance). Rooms with all comfort but also cheap monks cells.
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Address: Oude Houtlei 56, Ghent, East Flanders, 9000, Belgium