Savannah Grace

A Traveler’s Day In

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Three years ago Hotel Carlton Gent was bought and redesigned by three brothers. The oldest brother, Steven, had this dream of running a hotel and in a very sibling way managed to get the other two brothers on board. It was great getting the chance to talk to both Steven and Jeffrey, the youngest. The middle brother is undertaking a global escapade and is currently in Iran headed to Turkmenistan and Mongolia etc. Sounds very familiar 😉

Having previously owned a family tour guiding/driving business, I could completely relate to some of their stories.

I love the concept that the business is run by siblings, as I would love to do the same again with mine.

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When Mom and I arrived in Ghent we remembered just how tiring travel days can be. After 9 hours in the car, driving from Holland down to the West Coast of France then back up to Belgium, we quickly realized we weren’t easily going to pry ourselves from the hotel’s uber comfy beds. After another great #TRLT chat on Twitter (the weekly travel chat Shane AKA @thetravelcamel and I founded), we decided to order in pizza. Yes!

Jeffrey, was kind enough to personally deliver our pizza to the room with an amused smile. He was extremely sweet and friendly despite our “sinful” act of ordering-in while we were supposed to be out exploring. After he’d given us such a fabulous rundown of the city map with some great recommendations, I felt embarrassed not leaving the hotel. But heck! I managed to invent the most spectacular pizza you could ever imagine. Jalapeño, green olives, garlic sauce and BLUE CHEESE! I felt soooo American with my pizza, Coca Cola and movie in the hotel bed but it really hit the spot after a beautiful day of exploring the countryside.

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We sat and had coffee with Steven in the morning and he informed us of Ghent’s history and their hotel. Having just spent the past year+ rebuilding a 113 year old house of our own in Holland, I could completely relate to his stories of all the effort they’d put into rebuilding the hotel. In the 70’s it was one of the best hotels in town, but since had fallen into disrepair. The breakfast was very personal and sweet.

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Everything was served in little dishes, the jams sitting in cute pots instead of disposable packaging, there was a fresh squeezed orange juice machine, fruits and a beautiful selection of cheese and meat. The hotel is run by 5 staff, including the two brothers. The lady cooking the breakfast in the little kitchen was extremely friendly and the amount of love and care put preparing the food was apparent. It was even served with freshly picked herbs from their homegrown garden at the buffet. I was amazed when Steven expressed his excitement that next week they are getting a brand new dishwasher. Every dish up until now has been HAND WASHED, in the beginning the brothers had to do this part themselves. They’ve done a wonderful job refurbishing and I love that it brought the best of both worlds together.

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Though the rooms are large and modern with rather masculine decor (which I personally really like) you are squeezed between the history of the hotel and it’s surroundings. Outside the large windows from the fifth floor we looked over the brick buildings with their decorative details and outside our door the hall space is cramped and narrow, much like the elevator, reminding you that you are still in Europe. There are four spacious rooms on each floor, except for the top floor which has two even larger rooms that are still being repaired. Steven took us up to show the beautiful space in the penthouse suite which has a large balcony overlooking the streets. The love and commitment that has been invested is what made me love my stay at the Carlton Gent.

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The hotel is in a nice location, just a hop skip and jump from the Citadel Park. We took a lovely stroll through it on our 15 minute walk to the centre. It was quite chilly outside, but the sun was shining most of the time and it was a really nice walk to the main square of Ghent.

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We really enjoyed wandering in the university area of Ghent and seeing all the students going about their daily lives. Stopping in a small corner store for a bottle of water, it was nice to see there were so many healthy options readily available; fruits and veggies, an orange juice machine, fresh baked bread with a slicer right next to it, ground coffee…. and then I think, we’ve got 7-Eleven. The atmosphere was very safe and inviting, and I really felt like a part of Ghent. I would never recommend seeing Ghent (or any European city) by car. It was great to explore the city on foot and discover all of the hidden side streets, wander through the residential areas, and of course, see the incredible Gravensteen Castle built in the middle ages, Belfry of Ghent, The Graslei, Saint Bavo Cathedral, Saint-Nicholas Church and so many more! I could travel Europe for a hundred years and never be satisfied. The history here keeps your mind spinning.

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There’s actually too much to describe that I would never capture it with words, so I’ve decided to post a photo essay of Ghent tomorrow! So please stay tuned for that.

When we got back to the hotel, our noses pink from the cold, we ended up staying and chatting with Steven and Jeffrey for an hour about the hotel, Ghent, travel and life in general before driving north 3.5 hours back to Alkmaar.

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The brothers are such friendly guys! Recently one of their guests had delays with transportation and ended up getting stuck in Brussels late at night. Instead of making them pay for an intercity taxi, which would be extremely expensive, Jeff got in his car and drove from Ghent to Brussels to pick up the guest. That for me is a real act of kindness and shows how willing they are to go the extra mile! Just like Kees and I do, Jeffrey loves travelling by motorcycle so I insisted he come up to Alkmaar one day and stay with us. So remember Jeffrey, as we may be crossing paths with him again! Thank you again to our sponsors at Hotel Carlton Gent and for making this trip possible!

Savannah

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