On entering, we came into a small lobby with reception desk, a small lounge area, and little else. We had prepaid, so it was just a case of handing over our voucher and taking one of the two lifts to the top floor (fifth floor). I have a prejudice against electronic keys, but this one worked without any fiddling around with it – a day later, it needed reprogramming!
The room was only as big as it had to be. In the limited space was a double bed, a small wardrobe tucked away in a corner with a TV perched on top, a desk top and chair, a telephone with seating area, a suitcase stand, and a table lamp. The bathroom had a shower placed above a midget-sized bath, a wash-hand basin, and a toilet. At first, I thought the room lacked a hair dryer and iron, but the information sheet pointed out that these could be had on request.
My prime hate is those hotels that do not provide a second pillow. I don’t sleep properly with only one pillow, but it doesn’t seem right that I should have to ask for another, as it should be available in the first place. This hotel only provided one.
On opening the window, I had a stupendous view. There were spires everywhere. Just opposite was St-Baafkathedral. In the middle of the square was the Belfort, and looking further down, St-Niklaaskerk. There was a downside to this view. When there are three bell towers busy with their cacophony when I am trying to sleep, it has strange effects on my subconscious. I can’t remember having so many dreams in my life. They all related to my childhood.
Breakfast was first-class, with a wide choice of cereals, meats, cheeses, rolls, toast, juices, and coffee or tea. During the day, snacks were available. On the first occasion I tried these snacks, I asked for toasted sandwiches with bacon-and-cheese filling. Those were unique. At first, I thought my teeth were not going to be able to penetrate this succulent morsel. The bacon had mysteriously turned to concrete. Thinking this must be a one-off, I tried their lasagne another night. It was nearly as bad. Perhaps it wasn’t surprising that their snacks had few takers.
Mind you, a restaurant at the other side of the square deposited three pints of beer in my lap, and at another one, the sun umbrella collapsed on my wife’s head. It is so easy to work up conspiracy theories!
Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom
October 26, 2003
From journal Ghent – showcase of Flemish Wealth & Architecture