Almost six centuries ago, the newly built Prinsenhof in Bruges was home to the illustrious court of Philip III, Duke of Burgundy – among its members the artist and diplomat Jan van Eyck. Now, this beautiful chateau has been transformed into the city's first five-star hotel in a spectacular fusion of 15th-century restoration and 21st-century luxury.
Original features include the chapel, stained-glass windows, frescoes and art works, making the Kempinski Hotel Duke's Palace, with its soaring turrets and tranquil gardens, a perfect base from which to explore the medieval city just outside its gates.
Tucked away off one of the best shopping streets and a short stroll from the stunning Markt main square and other historic sites, the hotel boasts a boutique spa with 65ft pool and treatment rooms; just the ticket after a day on Bruges's cobbles and canals.
Atelier, the art-inspired bar with its giant illuminated paintbrush centrepiece, opens on to a peaceful terrace with flaming pyramids for heat and light after dusk. Modern art pieces from emerging talents are displayed for sale in the half an acre of manicured gardens beyond. There's a cosy lounge with roaring fire for winter evenings.
Heritage-listed historical suites have been designed around original 15th-century architecture or art, and, in the Prinsenhof triplex, a great gilded angel stands guard over a romantic private roof terrace. In all the spacious rooms, a contemporary frosted-glass wall gives on to an impressive black marble bathroom with walk-in shower, moody blue night lighting, piped sound from the flat-screen TV and Molton Brown toiletries. Elegant burgundy and gold furnishings, huge pillow-top beds, soft white bathrobes and slippers, and exemplary service enhance the "fit for a king" feel.
The food and drink
Feast on a rich choice of beautifully presented international dishes (roasted turbot with lobster sauce at €40) and regional specialities (Flemish rabbit stew at €21) in Restaurant Manuscript. Beware the siren song of the groaning sweet trolley! Three-course set menu, with drinks, for €65. All dishes from Manuscript and Atelier are available from room service.
All the public areas are wheelchair accessible and three rooms are especially equipped for guests with disabilities. Children welcome. No pets.
There is an opening offer of a night's b&b from €185 per room until the end of July. Otherwise, doubles cost from €285 per night, room only. Book 90 days in advance for up to 20 per cent discount. American buffet breakfast, including champagne, costs €25 per person. Eurostar (08705 186 186; eurostar.com) offers return fares to Brussels from £59. Tickets are valid for onward travel to any Belgian station at no extra cost.
Kempinski Hotel Duke's Palace, Prinsenhof 8, 8000 Bruges, Belgium (00 800 426 313 55; kempinski-bruges.com).