Where to stay in Bruges

Two historic hotels from which to admire the charming Belgian city of Bruges.

Kempinski Hotel Dukes' Palace

What's so special

The five-star hotel was late to arrive in Bruges the Dukes' Palace was the first and it didn't open until 2008, writes Ruth Jackson. The former palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, the building dates from the Middle Ages, but has all mod cons.

How they rate it

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Some of the hotel's 93 rooms "exhibit extraordinary historic touches: 15th-century frescoes glow in the Madame de Pompadour Suite [and] ancient wooden beams add dignity to the Isabella Van Portugal Suite", says Adrian Tierney-Jones in Sunday Times Travel. "The dcor is fresh, mixing period style with comfort and luxury; swathes of red- and gold-striped wallpaper, old masters in gilt-edged frames, sink-into armchairs and, in some bedrooms, decadent marble bathrooms." It is a fantastic hotel "for a taste of the high life in the Low Countries, this is the place" to stay.

The menu

The Manuscript restaurant serves upscale Flemish cuisine, including wild sea bass in a salt crust or tartar of Belgian beef.

The menu

A double room costs from £175, room only: www.kempinski.com/en/bruges; 00 32 50 44 78 88.

Oud Huis Amsterdam


What's so special

Located along one of the nicest canals in Bruges, this hotel offers a fantastic place to stay in the heart of the city. The hotel building is made up of five authentic 17th-century canal houses.

How they rate it

"The Relais Oud Huis Amsterdam offers the charm of its original, historical elements in combination with modern furnishings," says Cond Nast Traveller.

All of the rooms and suites have been individually decorated with "both antiques and fashionable materials. Enjoy the brand-new designer bathrooms with luxurious amenities."

The fact that the Relais Oud Huis is made up of five houses knocked together gives it a "unique warren-like character", but rooms are "spacious and modern, with wood-panelled walls", says The Guardian. "Many rooms also have beautiful views of the canal, as does the light and airy breakfast room."

The menu

The hotel doesn't have a restaurant, but you can enjoy a traditional Belgian beer in the chic bar.

The cost

A double room costs from £86 per night, room only. Find out more at www.martins-hotels.com, or call 00 32 50 44 51 11.

Affordable safaris


Botswana, "home of the spectacular Okavango Delta, is one of the most popular safari destinations, but it also tends to be one of the most pricey unless you camp". If you do opt for a camping safari, you will have to help out with the chores, "but it offers the chance to connect with the land; elephants, hippos, and zebra and wildebeest migrations are highlights".

Tribes (Tribes.co.uk) offers a seven-day safari with a driver/guide and cook costing from £670 per person, including most meals. Flights cost around an additional £1,000.

If you don't mind where you go, consider going to a less popular country. "It's almost inevitable that if a country is suffering internal troubles, the price of holidays to the area will fall." Kenya "has some great deals for tourists after the kidnapping last September of a British couple on the coast well away from safari areas". Follow the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but at present there is no warning to avoid Kenya's safari regions.

Aardvark Safaris (Aardvarksafaris.co.uk) has a six-night camping safari for £1,950 per person including flights, accommodation, meals and game drives.

"Self-drive is a great way to keep costs down, and [in] South Africa and Namibia ... the roads are good and driving straightforward." Safari Consultants (Safari-consultants.co.uk) has a five-night safari in Botswana's Tuli Block for £1,995 per person, including flights, car hire, and full-board accommodation.