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Page 49

‘‘I WAS WELCOMED NOT ONLY BY THE MOST COSSETING STAFF I

HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED, BUT THE OPULENT INTERIORS OF

THE BARON REYLOF RESIDENCE, TOO, WHICH STRIKES THE

PERFECT BALANCE BETWEEN

OLD-SCHOOL ELEGANCE AND INVITING HOMINESS.’’

A FESTIVE GETAWAY IN GHENT B ECCA WILLANS E NJ OY S A S POI LI NG S TAY AT P I L L O WS G R A N D H O TEL R EYL O F. Whether you’re seeking some end-of-year calm, somewhere to hand select Christmas gifts for your beloved, or simply inspiration for a new city to explore: the Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof in Ghent caters for all. I headed for the Belgian beauty spot to achieve all three aims – a fitting quest as the dark, early winter nights set in. As soon as I arrived at Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof, I was welcomed not only by the most cosseting staff I have ever encountered, but the opulent interiors of the Baron Reylof residence, too, which strikes the perfect balance between old-school elegance and inviting hominess. The hotel is set in an 18th-century mansion, once the home of the Baron Olivier de Reylof, now restored to its former glory, with a beautiful spiral staircase and many great architectural details of its period. Plus, it’s been expanded to accommodate 157 well-furnished rooms, and given a smart, modern Continental look. Unfortunately, the day I arrived was blustery and rainy; frankly, my generously sized and extremely comfortable bed was almost too cosy to leave. However, I persevered and made it as far as ‘the Living’, a space in the hotel evocative of the Baron’s undemanding lifestyle, including sitting rooms, a library and bar. I relaxed there while deciding how to spend my time and eventually borrowed an umbrella to make the short walk to the cosy bars nearby to while away the afternoon. The following day offered glorious, crisp sunshine and I used the opportunity to visit the medieval castle Gravensteen and to collect some chocolates from Marijn Coertjens (well, when in Belgium), an award-winning chocolatier close by. In the afternoon I enjoyed a seasonal massage treatment at the hotel spa, which is housed in the Baron’s former coach house, set apart from the hotel by a courtyard garden. The therapist welcomed me to a cosy room offering views out to the autumn leaves in the garden below and up to the original rafters of the building. My treatment involved a enzymatic body

scrub followed by a moisturising massage. My therapist explained that currently they use Sothys products to offer guests the highest quality experience. The treatment left my skin feeling silky smooth and smelling of roses, and in this pampered and preened state, it felt like a waste to use the gym facilities – perhaps I should have tried that before…For anyone wanting to work up a sweat, though, you’ll have all you need for an invigorating work-out. Overall, despite the hotel’s size, the sauna, infra-red cabin and wellness pool were blissfully calm and quiet. By evening, I’d spent enough time wandering the cobbled streets, so I was relieved to hear that a six-course tasting menu in Ghent’s best-rated restaurant (according to TripAdvisor) awaited me. The LOF restaurant is the most decadent dining option of several in the hotel; the menu is inspired by Michelin-recognised Chef Ron Blaauw and created by Chef Jasper Maatman. The excellent service provided by the staff throughout the hotel was perhaps best exemplified here. Each course was introduced by a very well-informed waiter, and paired with a just-right wine; the fantastic service and excellently crafted dishes made this an unforgettable experience. I left Ghent feeling well rested, like I’d had the privilege to stay in the home of a rather wealthy and accommodating friend. If you want to catch the city at its most festive, take note that the Christmas market opens on 6 December, so I’d recommend booking your room in Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof – and a table at LOF restaurant – now. Our writer was hosted by Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof, 36 Hoogstraat, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. For more information or to book visit: www. pillowshotels.com/ghent

PAGE 47

KENSINGTON & CHELSEA REVIEW

Profile for Kensington and Chelsea Review

Christmas 2019 Edition  

The Fa La La La La issue. Including festive ideas for food and wine, travel and our glorious and rather popular annual Christmas gift guid...

Christmas 2019 Edition  

The Fa La La La La issue. Including festive ideas for food and wine, travel and our glorious and rather popular annual Christmas gift guid...

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