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Embrace the pleasures of a stay in East Belgium: relaxed, easy – and sustainable!

Special places to stay where you can unwind to the rhythms of nature.

The scent of wood, a dazzling view over a green landscape with the sun on your face – or a breakfast with local honey and fresh berries in yoghurt. Sustainable accommodation is more than a trend: it’s a style of travel that inspires visitors, local residents and business enterprises in equal measure. Being able to tap into the rhythms of nature is a reliable recipe for a deeply satisfying holiday. Here are three unforgettable places to stay, set among the woods and forests of East Belgium.

Text: Ostbelgien.eu Photos: Ostbelgien.eu/Michael Dehaspe

Experience the charm of wood at Sleepwood Hotel in Eupen

For a pleasant and relaxing break, Eupen offers numerous possibilities. With the great natural beauty of the High Fens heathlands and Hertogenwald forest close at hand, there is much for nature-lovers to enjoy at any time of year. Eupen’s historic baroque buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries will enchant you, along with the openness and friendliness of the people.

Sleepwood Hotel is located in the centre of the town, in a street packed with pavement cafés and restaurants, where you can stop by for a freshly-squeezed juice or a freshly-cooked dish of food. The hotel is renowned for its respect for the environment and its choice of sustainable materials. When owner Arthur Genten converted this terraced house into a hotel, he installed walls made of wood and clay. “Due to a particular construction technique using these materials, the rooms keep a constant temperature. You could compare it to underfloor heating, but the effect comes from the walls. In summer you can cool the room by 7°C and in winter you can make it as warm as you like.”

All the rooms have solid-wood furniture. This creates a rustic look and a relaxed and cosy atmosphere. You immediately feel at home. This choice of materials provides a connection with the surrounding woodlands. “I chose sustainable materials expressly to remain in harmony with the region. One of the main reasons for coming on holiday in East Belgium is to enjoy outdoor sports such as cycling, mountain biking or walking – all activities where you are in close contact with nature.” To help guests to get to know the region, they can also rent electric bicycles and book guided cycling tours. And it’s not just the rooms that correspond to the environment, it’s also the vegetables on your plate. The menu of the Fine Foods restaurant offers delicious dishes made with seasonal products from the region.

At home in the past on Père Louis’ farm

Just outside Thirimont is a mountain chalet that seems to have sprung off the page of a fairy tale. Immersed in nature, the chalet looks out over the valley and tributaries of the small Rechterbach river. Here everything is designed to help you to completely relax. When you enter, a warm atmosphere immediately envelopes you: it’s like you’re staying on your grandparents’ farm.

Mikel Defays' family have restored this old farmhouse, which once belonged to his great-great-grandfather Père Louis. “We had to start from scratch really, because Père Louis' farm was effectively a ruin. We sought out farmhouses and stables in the area that were being demolished and used the old wood to rebuild our own farm.” The old materials and the original floor plan give the Ferme du Père Louis its distinctive air of authenticity. It’s a place where guests immediately feel at home – and there’s a spa to further enhance their wellbeing. “I think it’s important that there’s a sense of calm here,” says Mikel. “The positive vibe creates an atmosphere in which everyone, even large groups, can relax.”

The large garden, with views out over the undulating hills, also soothes the soul. “Our farmhouse is the ideal place for summer weddings or yoga retreats.” The area around the Ferme du Père Louis also gives it the perfect setting, as Mikel explains: “You have nature to suit all tastes: forests, rivers, lakes or vast meadows.” The towns of Malmedy and Sankt Vith are within striking distance: “You can rent a bicycle nearby to go there for a day’s shopping, or to seek out some of the local culinary delicacies, or to enjoy a drink in the sunshine on a café terrace.”

The bees of Landidylle Krimmels, for body, mind and soul

In Möderscheid, in deepest East Belgium, Elisabeth Michaeli and Erwin Veithen run a holiday home next to their own home. This is an excellent base for a holiday: the house is surrounded on all sides by walking and cycling routes, inviting you to venture forth into the countryside. Lake Bütgenbach, with its watersports facilities, and the charming town of Malmedy are both nearby.

“We are nature-lovers – and love walking and cycling. East Belgium is an excellent place for these activities. It’s a land of wide-open fields and forests, with hardly any traffic or industry." They call their place a Landidylle (rural idyll). The peace appeals not only to holidaymakers but also to Elisabeth's bees: “I have been keeping bees at Krimmels for six years now. I make honey, wax candles and soap here.”

Elisabeth and Erwin also offer a new therapy based on the smell of bees. Erwin explains: “My son and I have asthma. We discovered that there is a unique and effective therapy in which you inhale the air from a beehive.” Under the supervision of a doctor, you can be treated to relieve breathing problems. “We also have our private wellness area with hot tub and sauna” – perfect for relaxing after a day in the High Fens or a bike ride on the Vennbahn. Or you can just sit in the garden and unwind with an aperitif.

What does a “sustainable holiday” mean? Eco-friendly, certainly – but also all the pleasures of a luxurious stay surrounded by nature, perhaps involving the opportunity to experience innovative construction techniques, and exploring the flavours of local produce. The hiking and cycling trails of East Belgium will take you to lakes, forests and picturesque villages. The heathlands and fens have their own spectacular, rugged beauty. In spring, daffodils carpet the valleys, and every walk or bike ride is made memorable by their fragrant beauty.

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