Birthday spent in Bruges BelgiumAs I've mentioned one million and one times now - it was my birthday last week!  I'm wondering at what age I'm supposed to act cooler about blowing out candles on the cake, because it sure as hell wasn't this year.  I still get 100% excited for pretty much any sense of occasion, except this time around I had slightly more of a reason to get excited thanks to a return trip to Bruges! With four or five trips to the Belgian city behind me, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect - though with a slightly different agenda and a different hotel booked, there was everything to look forward to...
Luxury Hotel Dukes' Palace in Bruges Belgium
Exterior and flags of Hotel Dukes' Palace
White winding staircase at hotel dukes' palace bruges
After parking underneath the hotel, it's a short walk up to reception and a very friendly welcome to the only five-star hotel in Flanders, Hotel Dukes' Palace.  Glimpses into meeting rooms as well as the bar area can be spotted on the walk towards the reception desk, where a grand staircase can be found circling above you.  Truly, I can say my stay was both luxurious and elegant from beginning to end - I've undoubtedly found my new 'home from home' when visiting Bruges!        

Hotel Dukes' Palace
Prinsenhof 8
8000 Brugge
Luxury travel blogger in bruges belgium
Hotel Dukes' Palace luxury interior design
Large golden curtain tassel at hotel
Luxury travel blogger visit to Hotel Dukes' Palace
After unpacking and taking a little time to appreciate the hotel room's view of the garden, we headed out into the square to track down a late lunch.  One thing's for sure, I have no regrets whatsoever about wearing relatively flat shoes throughout this trip; I'd forgotten - the cobbles are merciless!  Though thankfully, less than five minutes from the hotel by foot and you find yourself at the heart of Markt (''Market Square'').  Sure, there are some gems tucked down the lanes and with brilliant service, however if you've travelled a fair distance and looking to very quickly appease the food monster within, the slightly higher rates found within the square are entirely worth it.

On this occasion, La Belle Vue was on the cards, a restaurant with a ludicrously unfair score on TripAdvisor - and for the life of me I can't figure out why!  The food is delicious (try the half roast chicken) and it's slightly set back from the square's traffic without compromising the view.  Ideal for a quick meal or light snack.
Travel blogger belgium bruges photography
Half roast chicken at la bella vue bruges belgium
Beautiful canals and boats of Bruges in August
After an hour or so of exploring the city, there was no way I was heading back to the Hotel Dukes' Palace before getting my paws on some ice cream!  To my surprise, popular ice bar Oyya is located just seconds away from the hotel; in fact, Hotel Dukes' Palace's private turning is even visible from the shop's corner.  One scoop of Speculoos later and I was ready for some much needed beauty sleep.  Back to the hotel...

Oyya - Ice Bar
Noordzandstraat 01
8000 Brugge
Oyya ice bar travel blogger review Bruges
Oyya ice cream bruges belgium travel blog review
Europe luxury travel and fashion blogger in BelgiumOh sweet loungewear, how I'd missed you!  You know me, I'm all for silk slips and satin gowns, but for some reason, there's something really satisfying about curling up in comfortable oversized basics after exploring a city.  Wait, did I just say that? Blame it on last week's birthday, I'm not the spring chicken I was eight days ago...


Rise and shine, breakfast is served!  If you've been reading my blog for a while now, you'll probably have twigged I'm not a huge fan of going down for breakfast.  It takes me an eternity to properly wake up, and so to avoid pouring juice on early birds' laps and seeing the croissants go flying, I prefer to enjoy breakfast from the comfort of the hotel room.  Hot chocolate?  Always.
Hotel Dukes' Palace room service breakfast
Selection of sweet pastries at Hotel Dukes' Palace
Hotel Dukes' Palace only 5 star hotel in Flanders
Luxury travel blogger exploring Hotel Dukes' Palace
Okay, well now I can see why I've at times been accused of eating my way through cities.  Uh, after a gorgeously presented breakfast, we visited a couple of the many churches in the area... and then headed to Tea-Room De Proeverie for a sweet snack.  Visit and you'll very quickly understand why it has been my all-time favourite European tearoom for four years!  This month's visit surpassed all other experiences though thanks to the constant air conditioning - my stay coincided with Belgium's heatwave, seeing temperatures soar to 34°C!  The staff are always overwhelmingly warm and friendly and the chocolates by Chocolaterie Sukerbuyc, oh my gosh.  Warm drinks come with a small pot of chocolates, though for just €3,50 you can indulge in the below assortment of chocolate truffles and treats.  Mmm...

Tea-room De Proeverie
5, Katelijnestraat 1
8000 Brugge
Bruges Tea-room De Proeverie travel blog review
China pot with assortment of chocolate truffles
Tea-room De Proeverie Bruges travel blog review
Luxury travel blogger in Belgium at summerI'll admit, I forgot it was my birthday on many occasions; I suppose it paled in comparison to the beauty of Bruges.  It's very easy to get lost in the winding cobbled streets and sight of boats gliding along the canals.  In short, it's dreamy.  So dreamy in fact, we were determined to make the most of the city by night, and so headed back to Hotel Dukes' Palace (and its rightly acclaimed 'authentic elegance of the 15th century') in the early evening to freshen up and change.

Denim Skirt - Zara

Sandals - Dune

Bag - Chloé Elsie (medium)

2016 fashion trends statement sleeves boho blouse
Hidden gems in the magical city of Bruges
5 star luxury hotels to stay at in brugesTravel blogger photography of Hotel Dukes' Palace
One week since leaving and I'm already missing the city, though at least I can continue reminiscing a little longer - Part Two of my travel diary will be arriving later this week!

With love,

Gabrielle x