Knowing that we had dinner reservations at number 50 of the World’s Best 50 Restaurants on our final night in Belgium, we decided to stay at Lozerkasteel in the town of Kruishoutem. We knew we would select the tasting menu and the wine pairings, so we knew we couldn’t drive to and from the restaurant, so staying nearby was required. There aren’t many hotel options in this town of 8,000 people, but using Booking.com we found this stunningly picturesque property just a few kilometers from the restaurant.
After we left Ghent in the mid-afternoon, the drive took us 30 minutes. We actually drive right past the property initially. then decided to drive up to the restaurant to see where it was and how long it would take us to get there. Upon returning to the hotel, we passed it again! Finally in the third time, we managed to find the driveway and arrive at 17h02. We told the hotel that we’d be there between 16h and 17h.
We arrived to find the innkeeper on the front patio reading the newspaper with his dog. We pulled in front and he welcomed us to the property. Immediately showing us to our room and giving us the quick tour.
The room wasn’t huge, but it was quite comfortable, the bed was surprisingly great. The room didn’t have many luxury amenities, but was perfect for what we needed – which was a safe, clean place near our destination restaurant.
The bathroom was large and had small supplies of toiletries. Usually I don’t travel with shampoo or soap and rely on the hotel’s supply to get me through the stay. We had enough for showers before dinner and before departure, but that was it.
While the room was nothing spectacular, the grounds were a different story. Nestled in a secluded area surrounded by rolling fields, a small pond and a working farm, you felt like you were in another world. You could hear no road traffic, no sounds save the braying of a donkey or the flapping of a goose’s goose wing. You could feel any stress you had just melt away.
I sat outside and read the final pages of War and Turpentine in the seats previously occupied by the innkeeper and his dog.
As I was reading the innkeeper returned and asked if I had prepaid the room, which I had as it was required through Booking.com. he leaves and returns a few minutes later, saying I hadn’t paid. I showed him my paid receipt with the large Booking.com note saying “Show this confirmation to the front desk”.
My receipt did nothing to persuade the innkeeper, who demanded that I pay another 140$ to stay the night. Failure to pay immediately meant we had to leave. I protested again to no avail. I decided that I would just pay again, then work with the property, Booking.com or worse case scenario, my credit card company to fix the situation.
We returned to the hotel after midnight and found no other cars on site – we must have been the only guests. The innkeeper said that traffic into Brussels can be a bear in the morning and could take 60-75 minutes to go a mere 26 km. We decided to leave the hotel at 06h45, three hours and 45 minutes before my flight. Traffic was horrendous and I arrived at BRU at 09h00,just 30 minutes before my flight was to board.
Upon arriving back home, I emailed the hotel with a copy of my prepaid receipt and my strong armed double charge, asking for a credit. A second email was required before getting a response, they were on holiday for a week and would look into upon their return. Nearly a week after their supposed return, and having still heard nothing