About three weeks before we were to arrive in Ghent, Belgium, we received an email from the Ghent Marriott asking if we would like to reschedule our trip due to a 10-day music festival that was opening on the day we were to arrive. We had made non-refundable hotel reservations and also had non-refundable train tickets from Ghent to Paris so we were unable to change our trip plus the thought of being there for a music festival was exciting. I had been anticipating a possible upgrade to a room overlooking the river, but decided to request a room that would be quieter.
We took the tram from the Ghent train station to a stop near the Marriott Hotel. From there, we had to push our way through the crowd at one of the main stages to get to the hotel. Our room was not quite ready, but we were able to sit in the peaceful lobby, study the maps and brochures we had been given, enjoy complimentary beverages and a snack (since they do not have a concierge lounge), and listen to the pianist. It wasn’t long before our room was ready. Our room was large and inviting. We spent a few minutes getting settled, then started exploring. We took a boat ride and were able to see many of the top sights in Ghent without fighting the festival crowds. We found a food stand with yummy looking pasta and thought it was interesting that Tabasco Sauce was one of the condiments. The Tabasco factory is a short distance from our house. We wandered around for a while after dinner, then returned to the peace of the hotel and our quiet room. The last band of the night was to begin at midnight, so we were thankful our room did not face the river.
The next day, after a wonderful complimentary breakfast, we decided to take the train to Brugge rather than renting bicycles to ride 35 miles (70 miles round-trip) because we would have more time to enjoy Brugge and could return earlier to Ghent to enjoy the music festival. When we returned to the hotel, we enjoyed more complimentary beverages and snacks. We asked for recommendations for dinner and the desk clerk recommended finding a restaurant in the Patershol (which used to be a workers’ district when the Castle of the Counts was used as a factory). Every place was very crowded, but we found a tiny Italian restaurant that had a table available. We enjoyed our pizza and pasta.
Our train to Paris departed very early the next morning, so we made arrangements for a taxi to take us to the train station. On the way to the station we saw many festival goers returning to their home or hotel.
Our visit in Ghent was much too short and much too crowded because of the festival, so I hope we will be able to return some day. There were so many sights we wanted to see that we just couldn’t get to. I think we could have spent 3 or 4 days there and could have filled them up. The hotel was lovely and the location was perfect.
-- Edited by razorbackfan at Aug 18, 2010 6:55 PM PDT See more pictures in the Local Area forum.
If you have a trip to Ghent planned and are staying at the Marriott, they will probably give you a visitor's guide called GHENT, DAZZLINGLY AUTHENTIC. It gives you a fabulous selection of places to see and things to do. I plan on saving my copy so I can plan a future trip. There are so many things we wanted to see that we had to postpone because of the crowds, but that gives us a really good reason to return. We really wanted to rent bicycles because we read that "in addition to being a pedestrian-friendly city, cyclists are also treated with due consideration". On this trip, all the cyclists we saw were pushing their bikes because of the crowd.