Nestling in a quiet street with a canal a short distance one way and the St Gilleskirk just behind sits the Hotel De Pauw. It is an unimposing building and is similar to the other houses in the street. Despite its pretensions, it is a bed-and-breakfast establishment.
We arrived about midday. Pushing the bell button eventually produced a response – from the cleaner. The owners are only there in the morning. After the formality of filling my details in on the obligatory form, I lugged our case up the stair to Room 2. A large bed took up most of the space, leaving just enough space to squeeze past the end. Along one wall, a double wardrobe offered generous space. Also provided were two comfortable chairs, a small table, a shelf, and a suitcase stand. Fixed in a high corner position, a TV looked blankly down at us. It proved to have umpteen channels, including UK ones. The room, though a bit gloomy, had electric lights placed at strategic points.
The bathroom was not user-friendly. It had one of those concertina-ing rubberised doors - fine when they work! This one required a strong arm and much jiggling about. The room contained a powerful shower in a roomy cabinet, a wash hand basin, a toilet, and a hair dryer. People wide in the beam would have difficulty in maneuvering in the available space.
When we booked in, we had been told the owners also ran an old Flemish inn called the Oud Handbogenhof Restaurant at the corner of the block. We went down in the evening and introduced ourselves to the woman serving - the co-owner of the hotel. She proved to be chatty and friendly. Her husband coped with the cooking. Between them, they ran an efficient operation. Even when the Inn had all of its 17 tables fully occupied, she coped with only the help of one assistant. Mussel casserole proved to be the house speciality. I believe in trying whatever appears to be a national dish, so I placed an order. It was daunting to have a pot full of mussels appear in front of me. Slightly wary of so much seafood, I tentatively dug one little morsel out of its shell. Eventually tiring of digging away with a knife and fork, I resorted to hands-on. Surprisingly quickly, I had worked myself to the bottom of the pot. A huge heap of discarded shells bore testimony to my efforts. I had a restless night, but no regrets.
At breakfast next morning, our cheerful host appeared still smiling brightly. On offer at breakfast were sliced meat and cheese, rolls, fruit juice, a boiled egg, and tea or coffee.
On leaving, it proved tricky carrying a heavy suitcase down the narrow staircase. At 64 euros for the room per night, we thought the accommodation represented good value, especially as it is positioned only a few minutes' walk from the centre of Bruges.