Since I moved to Ghent several years ago, I have been captivated by the iconic building on the central Korenmarkt square. For as long as I could remember, the building was in decay – after the post office left, it housed a pita bar, some dodgy stores and above all, hundreds of pigeons who did their utmost best to plaster every single piece of the building with their signature white leftovers. Every time I saw it, I could not help to feel sorry for the building and the city – how could such an iconic building, such a proud building with so much history be left to rot in the middle of the city?
Despite that, the building over the years grew to have a special meaning for me. I have so many memories in the city with the post building in the background. The first date of my wife Marieke and I actually started on the steps of the old post building.
So when news broke that the building would be renovated and that it would house several new stores as well as a hotel, my wife and I were dying to spend a night in the hotel.
What to like: amazing views, great quality rooms.
What to dislike: service is ok but could win on some character and authenticity, rooms are pricey.
The 1898 The Post Hotel
As said before, the hotel is housed in the old Post building right in the middle of Gent’s city center. It is part of the Zannier hotel group , a group of fancy and super stylish boutique hotels that -although I had never heard from them before- seem to go great lengths to build truly remarkable hotel experiences.
1898 The Post is certainly not cheap, but seems to be a great addition to Gent’s rather limited hotel scene. Although there are some fancy bed and breakfasts and AirBnB properties, the number of boutique hotels is rather limited. As is the availability of global chains by the way (Hilton does not have a presence, IHG is limited to some Holiday Inn properties and Marriott has a property at the Graslei which has mixed reviews to say the least). The only truly fancy boutique hotel in Gent up till recently had been the Grand Hotel Reylof (which has 157 rather than 1898 The Post’s 37 rooms).
So, if you’re looking for a truly remarkable stay and have some money to spare, consider 1898 The Post.
Location, location, location 9/10
The hotel’s location is just stunning. It is set next to the river Leie, with Saint Nicholas’ Church on one side (my wife and I actually got married there) and the historic grain port of Graslei on the other. On the other side of the building, you have amazing views of the Korenmarkt square and the other iconic Ghent Churches.
Especially in the summer, the Graslei is a truly magical place to be. People drinking cocktails on the different terraces (1898 The Post has its own terrace called ‘The Terrace’ – unfortunately, the terrace does not feature The Cobbler’s famous cocktails) mixed with people who have bought some wine or beers.
Hotel rooms 9/10
The hotel spans the top two floors of the old post office building, with a total of 37 rooms named according to their size: from Stamp rooms to Letter rooms and with the special Tower Suite and Loft—but it does offer a remarkable 360-degree view of surrounding Ghent from within the building’s octagonal clock tower. Most rooms (at least the ones on the second floor) have double-height, sloping ceilings, which gives them a much bigger feel than their room size would suggest. The rooms are very stylishly decorated with a lot of attention for detail; lots of brass details with dark wood and equally dark hues to give the place moody overtones. The clock tower itself isn’t the only octagon you’ll find at 1898 The Post; eight-sided marble tiles cover the bathroom floor, too. Rooms are adorned in deep green complemented by soft lighting and outfitted with antique furniture and bookcases.
Lots of small decorations (globes, books, boxes) are placed around the room and can be bought from the hotel as well (don’t make the mistake to take one of the boxes of crayons, that will set you back 15 euros). The bookcases also feature small bottles of liquor and botanicals, referring to the hotel’s iconic The Cobbler cocktail bar – a very smart way to further integrate both in the hotel’s atmosphere.
Drinks in the hotel
The hotel’s bar, The Cobbler serves cocktails from 5pm until midnight and has built a loyal audience/following of cocktail enthusiasts since it’s opening. Although the genius behind the cocktail bar, the famous Belgian cocktail prodigy Jurgen Nobels (who once worked at Ostend’s Histoires d’O by the way) has moved on to pursue his dream of building a crafted cocktail empire called ‘Dorst’, The Cobbler still delivers on it’s promise of world class cocktails.
The Kitchen’s open fireplace and afternoon tea makes it an ideal place to cozy up on those chilly Belgian afternoons or to overlook the busy Graslei in the summer. Lining the walls of nearly every room are a number of historic treasures, not the least of which include the early sketches of the building’s original architect, Louis Cloquet, and other wax seals of Belgium’s oldest aristocratic families.
By the way, for hotel guests, there is also a ‘honesty bar’, an area in one of the Harry-Potter-esque corner towers that overlooks the large Korenmarkt square. It has a wide selection of drinks (spirits, other) as well as botanicals for your fancy gin tonic. The hotel trusts you to write down the drinks you take to be paid later – a really nice twist to the hotel.
Breakfast is everything you would expect from a hotel like this and is served in The Cobbler, the same place that doubles as an amazing cocktail bar in the evenings and nights.
The breakfast features a lavishly stocked table and closet full of different kinds of bread, meats, cheeses. A cheff makes sure you get your eggs exactly the way you want them.
Our stay 9/10
Marieke and I decided to spend a Friday night in the hotel away from the kids (I gifted Marieke the stay for Mothers Day).
After dropping our gear at the hotel (the frontdesk staff escorted us to our room, showed us around and showed the key elements of the room-much appreciated) we made our way to 1898 The Post’s terrace (‘The Terrace’) where we enjoyed the amazing summer weather.
After a quick fresh up we had dinner in a nearby restaurant (Kin Khao Thai Restaurant in the Donkersteeg), some drinks at de Graslei before we headed to bed.
The next morning we slept in till late (hey, we for once did not have to get up for the kids) and had some amazing breakfast at the hotel.
The practical stuff and conclusion 9/10
For the two of us, we spent 208 euros for one night (end of July 2018) including breakfast.
We booked directly via the Zannier hotel website.
Romantic weekend with the two of you? Got something to celebrate? Looking for something truly remarkable? Got some money to spare? Really consider 1898 The Post when you’re visiting Gent.