Boutique hotel 1898 The Post inhabits the building that was once Ghent’s head post office, a tour de force of neo-Gothic architecture built for the 1913 World’s Fair. Its fairy-tale turrets rise high over the Graslei, the city’s historic grain port, flanked by mediaeval guildhalls with decorative façades and steep gabled roofs. Inside, you’ll find plenty references to the building's former occupation (polished-metal pencil cases and postcards in the rooms, for example), but the furnishings also call to mind the man of letters himself: antique writing desks, glass ink bottles and bookcases abound. Having poured yourself a whisky at the honesty bar or sunk into a chair by the fire, you could be forgiven for thinking that you weren’t actually in a hotel at all, but staying in the castle of some bookish baron.
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A house cocktail at the Cobbler for each guest; GoldSmiths will get a signature cocktail
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £141.36 (€161), including tax at 6 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates don’t include breakfast, but there's à la carte or an American-style buffet laid out in a vintage-style open kitchen for €25 per person. Expect home-made bread, cold cuts, flaky pastries, cereals and fruit; hot waffles and bacon are made to order.
Ghent didn’t take the idea of hosting the 1913 World Fair lightly. As well as building the grand post office (which took more than a decade), the city gave many of its historic areas a thorough facelift before the crowds arrived. The buildings along the Graslei went under the knife more than most, which is partly why they look so good today.
At the hotel
Lounge, terrace, laundry and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, free bottled water and Le Labo bath products.
Our favourite rooms
For sheer old-world romance, it has to be the Tower Suite, which looks like it sprang from the page of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Split over two floors in the hotel’s octagonal tower, the suite has a white-marble bathroom with a double-headed shower on one level, and a king-size bedroom with antique wooden floorboards above. 360-degree views are the icing on this two-tiered cake.
Holster your favourite pen – you can’t help but feel inspired to recapture the pre-email era by dashing off a letter or two.
All of the public areas are wheelchair accessible, as are the ground-floor rooms. The Envelope No. 1 is adapted for disabled guests, with wider door frames and rails in the bathroom.
All ages are welcome. Cots are available on request, but numbers are very limited, so be sure to ask in advance.
Room temperatures can be controlled by front office in order to conserve energy while guests are out, and keycards ensure minimal electricity is used. The hotel also has lighting sensors and LED bulbs, and minimises plastics.
Choose any of the tables by the large windows, which overlook the canal and the picturesque Korenlei on the other bank.
Ghentrify yourself with a tweed jacket, tortoiseshell glasses or a pair of brogues.
Serving breakfast and afternoon tea, the Kitchen looks more like a living room than a restaurant, with an open fire, armchairs and dark-wood tables lit by jade-green reading lamps. Hot dishes are served from a modern kitchen that’s masquerading as something more traditional; the buffet is laid out across a large stripped-wood counter and dining table. Every afternoon, home-made cakes and fine teas make an appearance. Once the china’s been cleared away, the room tends to become an extension of the Cobbler cocktail bar.
Named after the type of cocktail shaker they use, the Cobbler takes aim at Ghent’s upmarket bar scene, showcasing an award-winning team of mixologists. Those who like to watch should plump for one of the soft leather stools at the zinc-topped bar; otherwise, settle in one of the armchairs by the windows. The hotel also has a residents-only honesty bar, found in the tower. Like the Cobbler, it’s furnished with bookcases, armchairs and antiques, making it feel like a private room at a gentleman’s club. A glass drinks trolley holds decanters of premium spirits, but you can also order wine, champagne and cocktails.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 11am (Monday to Friday); afternoon tea runs from Friday to Sunday, 1pm to 4.30pm. In the Cobbler, drinks flow from 5pm to midnight (1am, Friday and Saturday).
All drinks and bar bites available at the Cobbler can be delivered to your room.
1898 The Post is in Ghent's historic centre on the Graslei, a mediaeval port lined with some of the city’s most beautiful buildings.
The closest international airport is Brussels, which is served by many European routes; there are also direct flights from some larger US airports. From Brussels airport, it takes 45 minutes to reach the hotel by car. Hotel transfers can be arranged on request.
Ghent’s Sint-Pieters station receives regular intercity services from Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ostend. From the station, walk to Gent Korenmarkt perron 5, where you can catch the number 1 tram to Gent Van Monckhovenstraat. You’ll be able to see the hotel’s clock tower when you exit the station.
The city centre was pedestrianised in 2017, proving how keen the government are to make Ghent foot-traffic-friendly – contact the hotel to request a permit to enter the car-free zone if you're planning to park near the hotel or drop off your luggage. (A car can be useful for a day trip to Bruges, Brussels or Antwerp, but it’s not necessary if you’re staying in the city.) The hotel has private parking 250 metres away (€25 a night) – you'll need to contact the hotel to book your spot before arrival. There's also the nearby public Sint-Michiels car park, which is outside the car-free zone (€25 a night).
Worth getting out of bed for
Ghent’s Museum of Contemporary Art, otherwise known as SMAK, has a permanent collection containing works by Karel Appel, Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol. The gallery has also made a name for itself with exhibitions that lean towards the daring and provocative end of the scale, even suggesting that visitors ‘recover’ from their visit in Citadel Park, which is just across the road. The cobbled lanes in Patershol have remained largely unchanged since mediaeval times, making this a particularly charming neighborhood to wander round. The area was once the dwelling place of members of the Order of Carmelites, or Paters, giving the place its name. Today, many of the decorative-fronted buildings hide small restaurants, bars, boutiques and art galleries within their depths. Those wanting to delve even further into the past should make the trip to Saint Peter’s, a former Benedictine abbey that’s stood since the 7th century. It’s now home to a museum and exhibition space; the abbey gardens are also a blissfully quiet place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Oak’s head chef Marcelo is of Brazilian and Italian descent, which goes some way to explaining his prowess in the kitchen. A worldly man who’s no stranger to culinary experimentation, Marcelo combines local ingredients with South American flavours and Asian spices, creating dishes that are flavoursome and surprising at every turn. The atmosphere is laid-back and, with only 24 seats, fairly intimate; book before you arrive in town. Tucked within the atmospheric streets of the Patershol, Roots is a modern, minimalist and relaxed restaurant run by vibrant young couple Kim and Nele. Your cutlery is in a drawer in the table, and you could easily come away from your meal having spoken to every member of staff. Local produce features heavily, elevated to its best by an adept kitchen team. The set lunch menu offers particularly good value for money. Again, don't dally when it comes to booking.
Specialising in biodynamic wines, Win is a stylish and pared-back wine bar with poured concrete floors, mid-century modern furniture and dangling bulbs. The wine draws a crowd of discerning drinkers, but it’s equally popular for its gin selection and tapas. Inspired by the legendary Hot Club de France, Hot Club Gentis dedicated to showcasing top-drawer jazz in all its forms. Hidden at the end of a small alley, this local favourite dishes up live acts and a Deep South-esque atmosphere from 9pm most nights – check its website for the latest listings.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Ghent and unpacked their list of tips for making the perfect waffle, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside 1898 The Post in Ghent…
It might sit on the most charming row of buildings in the whole of Ghent, but 1898 The Post would seem equally at home in a story by Edgar Allen Poe. You could well imagine the master of Gothic fiction conjuring up the masonry, which is dramatic at every turn, not least the gape-mouthed gargoyles that guard the clock tower looming over the guildhalls along the quay. Attractive as they are, those buildings look like gingerbread houses when compared with the hotel’s Gothic grandeur. But as always, it’s a case of books and their covers, as for all its imposing looks, 1898 The Post radiates warmth and hospitality once you’re within. Each morning, sugar-dusted waffles come thick and fast from the rustic open kitchen; after dark, guests sink – cocktail in hand – into armchairs arranged before the fire, surrounded by the hallmarks of fine living: antique furniture, leather-bound books and crystal decanters. But with so much writing paraphernalia on display (and perhaps having spent a little time sampling cocktails at the Cobbler), it’s hard not to let your imagination run wild. When you can stay in a tower that looks like something from a fairy tale, romance tends to spiral as steeply as the staircase.