Let’s face it, when travelling, at the end of a long day, what matters is where you sleep. Be it in a hostel with lots of new travellers to meet, a luxurious hotel that feels better than your own home or a small cabin in the middle of nowhere, the tourism industry has understood that travellers enjoy a good night’s sleep, and most of all, a perfect morning wake up. In this article we’re going to be looking at unusual places to sleep in, weird hotels with charm, and uncommon buildings transformed into romantic B&B’s. But most of all, if you’re travelling to Belgium, especially when you’re exploring the country side, there is far more to explore when you go to sleep!
© Photo: Dré Wapenaar
You’ve probably heard of the Ardennes as Belgium’s top place for nature retreats and skiing. The Camping site of Le Val de L’Aisne now offers several different types of accommodation to suit the adventurous traveller’s needs. If sleeping in a mobile home or tent is not your thing, the camping site offers the possibility to sleep in Bubbles for the night; a perfectly safe and heated accommodation allowing you to sleep under the stars and wake up with the sunshine naturally and a view on the lake. A truly different experience starting at 70€ a night! And if you’re still too unsure about sleeping in a sphere for the night, you also have the possibility to sleep in one of the vintage wagons (or roulottes), which I have tested out myself and is a cute and romantic alternative for those with a nomadic soul starting at 55€ a night.
© Photo:Le Val de L'Aisne
And last but not least, if you’re willing to try something completely different, they also offer “raindrop tree tents” – small wooden habitats designed by Dré Wapenaar himself,- taking in that way outdoor sleeping to the next level of design! And when people don’t come for the sleeping, they come here for the fishing and the hiking organised by the camping site (starting price 45€).
© Photo:The Aqua Lodge
Ever wanted to sleep literally by the side of a lake? Then you’re going to love this option! These floating bungalows rest by a private lake, with only 5 other bungalows – this means, it can be either a private or a communal experience. Most of all, if you’re looking to treat your partner with rustic class and design, this accommodation is probably a great find. Though a bit pricey, starting from 200€ a night, it is no doubt a true treat to the senses. All cabins come with a double bed, inside living room and chimney, a private terrace overlooking the lake and a little something extra; a transparent window on the floor, allowing you to even catch glimpses of the underwater world beneath you!
Insider tip: want to drink a local beer? Try the Maredsous beer – blond or amber – and top it up with some local Maredsous cheese. Well, and you’ve got yourself a perfect date night!
© Photo: La Balade des Gnomes
This hotel is for the fanatics of the eerie, fairy tales and more. There are 11 different rooms to choose from, all in their own theme, and to the smallest of details. For someone who has slept there, I can truly say this was the best glamping experience I ever had and it was beautiful to see how everything was handmade and hand carved.
You can choose between the Cabin in the wood (an ode to the elements of fire wood and water - it comes with a beautiful large bathtub), the Star of the desert (with its own Moroccan-styled living room), the Hutta di Zobabou-bou (an African themed cabin), the Settlement of the Monk (with elements reminiscent of Gaudi!), the Casa Tireli-Trela (with an Andalusian styled interior and that can also accommodate a child), the Legend of the Trolls (and feel what it’s like to be a troll living in a treehouse), the neighbourhood of the moon ( space lovers are going to go wild for this one !), The Isle of Maquarie (come on-board a ship, direction Tasmania), the Road of the wine ( feel the 1900’s mood), and last but not least, the Trojan Horse (an impressive two floored wooden horse to sleep in!).
This camping site is meant for the real campers; not only because it is held by long time campers and nomads, but also because it offers several camping possibilities that are uncommon in the rest of Europe. You can rent a vintage 1960’s double decker bus, which is a great authentic treat for families! It comes with a fully equipped kitchen, living room and a double room and two smaller rooms. Total price of only 125 € per night for the whole bus and it sleeps 5 people (2 adults and 3 children).
If you’re travelling alone or by two, and on a budget, rest assured, because another alternative is to rent the smaller “gypsy” caravans –the kitchen is on the outside, and there is actually no other electricity but that coming from the candles you light! For 50 € a night, we can say it’s definitely a good treat for the experience.
© Photo: Camping Le Semois
And finally, my favourite and most unusual accommodation of choice – and this coming from the wine lover that I am – is spending the night in a wine barrel. You’ve read that right! Up to 4 people can sleep in this tiny gem – and it includes an outdoor kitchen - starting at 60 € a night. And though the wine bottle doesn’t come included for the last spot, the camping site has its very own shop, selling local products such as wine, cheese and the locally brewed Orval Beer. Perfect if you’re looking to watch the sunset from your place with good food and good drinks; now all you need to add, is the good company!
© Photo:Château de la Poste
A contemporary yet classic estate deep in the Ardennes is what the Chateau de la Poste is all about. This 19th century castle where dukes and even a Belgian princess has lived in, has since 2009 been turned into a hotel specifically fit for romantic getaways, but also team building events and even festivals. The castle is in a huge domain in the middle of the Ardennes – and offers many possibilities to wander and wonder. When making reservations, you'll notice that you have the possibility to rent out the whole space - a part of the castle (say you want to organise a wedding?), several rooms for reunions and teambuilding events and lastly, a modern hub in the middle of the forest so you can wake up with the birds and forest smells !
And when travellers aren’t here to sleep, they also come to try some of the finest Belgian cuisine in the castle’s restaurant. Some of the ingredients come from the garden and the chef, Quentin, mixes up new menus every month to suit the season’s ingredients. Laurent, who will make sure to welcome you to the estate has a deep knowledge of the forest and a quirky sense of humour that adds the extra toping to this wonderful place.
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