Long live the music!

“Bit by bit it comes back to him. A bunch of Belgian businessmen and a strange drinking game. Oh God, why?” Alright, so there aren’t that many songs or lyrics in English about Belgium or the Netherlands, but popular music in the Dutch language does have a long and respectable tradition. If you want to explore that heritage, you are welcome at “Long live the music” in Ghent’s Saint-Peter’s Abbey between October 5th 2018 and June 9th 2019.

“Long live the music is a wondrous journey through 60 years of Dutch and Flemish popular music. The pioneering days of early crooners like Will Tura. The turbulant sixties with protest singers Boudewijn De Groot and Walter De Buck. The seventies with the kitsch of Eddy Wally and the rawness of Raymond van het Groenewoud. The eighties and the teenage mania surrounding Doe Maar and Clouseau. The hardrocking nineties with Gorki and Noordkaap. All the way up to the present day hit parades, where De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig replies “Watskebeurt?” to K3’s “Oya Lélé”. From folk to hip hop, from torch song to hardrock.


The expo showcases an excellent selection of collection pieces of the musical heroes of the Low Countries. Visitors can listen and sing along, or partake in a musical quiz. Belgian pop connaisseur Jan Delvaux relates remarkable anecdotes and you can watch memorable tv fragments. Fab!


More information on the expo can be found here (Dutch only). Our trusted hotel Astoria is only 10 minutes walking distance from the Saint-Peter’s Abbey, so you can rest easily after your musical adventures. And our breakfast will make you say “Let’s jam!”

The Museum of Crime: a criminally good exposition!

From Sherlock Holmes’ cigarette buds to theblood-spattered fabrics of NCIS, physical evidence has been the backbone of criminal investigations for the last century. Since the 1930s ghent’s judicial police has kept a vast collection of photos, objects and files which have contributed to the solving of various crimes.This collection, nicknamed “the museum of crim”, was never accessible to a general audience, but could only be viewed by agents in training or on special invitation.

The city museum STAM now was given access to 9 decades worth of material and distilled it into the exposition “The Museum of Crime”, from Octover 26 2018 till April 30 2019. Mug shots or criminals, kits for assembling composite portraits, murder weapons, suspects’ fingerprints, rat poison in the tea… all are on public display.


The expo also reviews the history of the Ghent judicial police: its inception, its investigation methods throughout the years and how it assembled and displayed its collection. You also get an idea of how the idea of what constitutes a cime has changed over the century. Who still balks at the so-called “indecent photographs” of yesteryear?


You can visit the expo at your own leisure, but there are also guided tours every third Sunday of the month. During the expo you can also attend lectures on the theme of “living with crime”, and there’s a selection of crime movies at the KASKcinema.


More info on the exposition can be found here. If after that you’re looking for a safe haven, you can book a room at our comfortable hotel Astoria. Who knows, we may even let you out on good behavior.

TripAdvisor reward: Certificat of Excellence 2017

We are proud to announce that again this year our hotel is in the top 10 of all Ghent Hotels on TripAdvisor!
Certificate of Excellence 2017 - Astoria hotel Gent

This morning we received our "Certificat of Excellence 2017".
Thank you to all TripAdvisor users that reviewed us!

The Walking Bus: The free alternative for Ghent’s car free zone

Since last year a good chunk of Ghent’s old city centre has become non-accessible by car. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re always obliged to go by foot in Ghent’s inner city. The city now provides a free walking bus.

These cute little buses, which look a bit like Dinky Toys, follow a fixed, looping trajectory through the car free zone. Do you have difficulty walking or do you want to give your feet a rest? Then just lift your hand when the bus passes by and you can ride along at no cost. The walking bus has no fixed stops, so do notify the driver when you want to get off.
There are three buses in total for the inner city, with a capacity of eight people per bus. Do you need some assistance in getting on and off? Then do ask the driver. Be mindful that the bus is inaccessible to wheelchairs. Also, don’t expect any Top Gear speeds: the walking bus drives along at a slow walking pace, giving you plenty of time to enjoy your view of Ghent. Service may be interrupted due to extreme weather conditions.


The walking bus provides service from Monday till Saturday, from 11 until 23 hours. On Monday till Thursday there’s a bus every 15 minutes from 11 to 19 hours, and every 45 minutes in the evening. On Fridays and Saturdays there’s a bus throughout the day every 15 minutes. The walking bus does not operate on Sundays, except for the monthly shopping Sunday and during special events (in that case also from 11 till 23 hours).
Want to get to know the walking bus? Then have a look at this video. The walking bus’s route is only a short tram trip away from our trusted Hotel Astoria, where you can settle down after your exploration of Ghent’s medieval centre.

Green Ghent: Local Nature Preserves

Springtime is here again. This is the season when the nature preserves of Ghent show their best side and entice the visitor with splendour and repose.


The Gentbrugse Meersen is a nature and park area of about 270 hectares in size, on which construction began in 2013. It is situated in Gentbrugge, a commune to the southeast of Ghent, in a curve of the river Schelde. The preserve consists largely of meadows and fields, which are often flooded throughout the year and therefor attract a lot of aquatic birds and stilt-walkers. Here and there you can still find some remains of old country houses and little castles. Cows graze on part of the domain and you can take a walk among our bovine friends. Also remarkable is the Birth Forest: parents of newborn Ghent children can plant a little tree there for their child. More info on the Gentbrugse Meersen.


A visit to the Bourgoyen, a paradise for waterfowl, is also well worth your while. Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen is a classic in among Ghent’s nature preserves. Many species of geese, ducks and other water birds call these flooded grasslands home. This area of 220 hectares is among the most rich in bird species in Flanders. The landscape gets its distinctive look through the presence of the gnarly pollard willow trees. Slightly above the rest of the terrain is an old railway embankment, covered by dry terrain plants. The Bourgoyen also has a nice visitors’ centre with both permanent and temporary exhibitions about nature. More info on the Bourgoyen.

To the west of Ghent are the Vinderhoute Forests, spread over Drongen, Mariakerke and Lovendegem. At the moment this terrain still consists of separate terrains like De Campagne Domain Claeys-Bouüaart or Landgoed Leeuwenhof. These will soon be linked by new walking or cycling paths to create a domain of 640 hectares!


You can already visit De Campagne estate, a castle park in English style (with squirrels) and a children’s farm. Landhoef Leeuwenhof has a romantic park with an orchard, an ideal place for a picknick.Domain Claeys-Bouüaart has two playgrounds, a lovely forrest and a barbecue zone. Its castle is a centre for young artists, including a theatre hall.
But all those sites mentioned above will be exceeded in size by Parkbos, a domain to the south of Ghent (across Zwijnaarde, Sint-Denijs-Westrem, De Pinte en Sint-Martens-Latem) that, once finished in 2020, will cover almost 1200 hectares.


A new cycling and walking patch on the Oude Spoorweg has already been opened You can also already visit the romantic Maaltebruggepark, which grew around Maaltebrugge Castle, and the Portaal Grand Noble, a new forest and park area which leads to the valley of the Rosdam brook. More info on the project is here.

As to distance, our Hotel Astoria is situated dab in the middle of these nature preserves and thus is an excellent starting point. And offering you comfort is in our nature.

Ghent Markets: Time For Some Outdoor Shopping

Are you looking for some flowers, a nice piece of fish or an antique candlestick for your table? The markets of Ghent have got you covered. Sunday is traditionally market day in our fair city, tradition our inhabitants love to keep. Spread out across the inner city and the suburbs there are over fifteen markets in total, providing you with both food and all different type of wares.

The City of Ghent has brought together six of its best known markets in a walking tour through the city centre, which will give you a nice experience of the goings-on on our markets during Sunday morning. The walk start on the Kouter, amidst the beautiful colours of the flower market. Once past the old Palace of Justice you continue to the Ajuinlei, where you can peruse second hand books alongside the waters of the river Lys. Further to the north you pass the food market in the shade of the Sint-Michiels Church and the arts and crafts market on the Groentenmarkt (only between April 1 and September 30, not during the Ghent Festivities).


After that you arrive at the backside of the Sint-Jacobs church, where the famous weekly flea market is held. The area itself is well known for its little antique shops. From there you walk eastwards through the Sint-Jacobsnieuwstraat to end up at the Oude Beestenmarkt, where both small pets & birds and second hand bikes are sold. Just a short distance further along the Reep and over the François Laurentplein and you end up back on the Kouter.


Of course there are many other markets in and around Ghent besides these six, some on Sunday, some on other days of the week. For new wares you can visit he Schooldreef in Gentbrugge on Monday, the Vrijdagmarkt from Friday till Sunday, the Edmond van Beverenplein and the Ledebergplein in Ledeberg on Sunday morning. There are also several farmer’s markets where you can buy fresh producer directly from farmers and cattle breeders: on Wednesday near Bedrijvencentrum De Punt in Gentbrugge, on Thursday in the Vogelenzang, on Friday along the Antwerpsesteenweg in Oostakker, on Saturday in the Spijkstraat and Halvemaanstraat in Sint-Amandsberg and on Sunday on the Charles de L’Epéeplein.

You can find more information about the markets of Ghent here  and you can download the map of the walking route here. Loaded with purchases, you need only take a short trip on the tram to our our trusted Hotel Astoria, where you can settle down after your shopping spree.

Ghent hotspot: Walking with Belmodo App

Discover a new way to explore Ghent! Thanks to Belmodo Hotspots App you have the best Belgian addresses always at hand.

Belmodo and Visit Flanders proudly present the long-awaited Belmodo Hotspots App. Through this app, you do not longer have to search various websites looking for suitable lunch spots or unmissable sights. All these addresses in our Flemish cities are now gathered in one app. With the app you can conveniently go looking for hotspots that interest you through the different sections fashion, beauty, coffee, deco, drinks, food and sleep. Moreover, you can save your favorite hotspots thanks to the like button and thus draw up your own list of favorites.


The Belmodo App also lets you discover new places in addition to the classic sights. Take a tour through Ghent and stroll through this vibrant city along the various recommended addresses or simply Join the “Gentenaar” on a summer day with a drink at the Graslei and Korenmarkt. End this beautiful day at Astoria Hotel to rest up for another day full of extraordinary experiences in Ghent.
Welcome to the planet of the Apps! Let’s go through a small selection of what are some of the coolest spots in Ghent, according to the Belmodo.
Let’s start with some footwear for our walk. In Dope (Onderbergen 74) you’ll find a diverse range of sneakers, from classically white to eccentric using pony hair. On the other hand you’ll find exclusive labels of shoes and handbags at Rio (Lange Kruisstraat 23), labels such as Givenchy or Stella McCartney. Shoes, handbags and other accessories by prestigious fashion designers are also available at Sevens (Henegouwenstraat 34-38).


You can complete your outfit at fashion house A Suivre (Brabantdam 27), a beautiful stores full of women’s clothing by international labels such as Phillip Lim and J-Brand. Oorcussen (Vrijdagmarkt 17) presents major names such as Ann Demeulemeester and Rick Owens in a splendid 17th century house. Respectively in Vlaanderenstraat 11 and 51 you’ll find Sprezzatura Men and Sprezzatura Women, casual yet chic clothing for him and her. Men and women can also feel their fashion sense tingling at Rewind (Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 13). In concept store L’AmuZette (Krommewal 2) you can shop for clothing, accessories, vintage and design items, but also for books and children’s items. You can even still your hunger with delicious tapas, lunch or a pie and coffee. Children’s clothing, colourful decorations and original toys are also available at Teddy (Afrikalaan 289E).
Treat yourself to just that little bit of extra at Fin du Jour (Vlaanderenstraat 80), a treasure trove of beauty products, featuring some of the leading labels. Or do you prefer a makeover for your house? Then head to Bliss (Brabantdam 56) for design and deco items.


Feeling a bit hungry after all that shopping? At Moor&Moor (Jakobijnenstraat 7) you can eat healthy local produce in this combination food store/ brunch restaurant. Le Botaniste (Hoornstraat 13) serves food straight out of nature’s kitchen with their vegetarian cuisine. For delicious fresh soup and tasty salads Soup+ (Lammerstraat 33) is the place to be.


Let’s end with a steaming cup of coffee or a fresh drink. Coffee house Bar Bidon (Bisdomkaai 25) offers you a foaming cappuccino or a savoury lunch, and also double as a bicycle shop. Jigger’s The Noble Drugstore (Oudburg 16) is the only Belgian elect on the list of the hundred best cocktail bars in the world, and now also has its own pub, De Ganzerik (Druifstraat 29). And in the Groenevalleipark (Nieuwe Wandeling 62) you’ll find WATT, a unique sleep-, eat-, drink- and shop-concept with something different on every floor.
This is just a small selection of Ghent’s cool spots according to Belmodo. Be sure to go out on a shopping expedition of your own in our fair city, using this App as your guide. And if you finally feel like dropping after all that shopping, check in at our trusted Hotel Astoria to rest up.

Delicious breakfast pastries, now also gluten-free

For some time now Hotel Astoria has been offering a gluten-free alternative for our breakfast bread rolls. But, as the saying goes, man does not live on bread alone. From now on you can enjoy a selection of tasty gluten-free pastries along with our well-stocked breakfast buffet.
The idea is simple: we strive to offer people with allergies an equal variety at the breakfast table, since our breakfast is on of Hotel Astoria’s strongest points.


Be advised: since we want to make sure that our products are fresh, we ask you to request these gluten-free pastries in advance during your reservation. When you reserve a room here, you will be able to fill in a field “remarks” in which you can fill in this question. We wish you to enjoy a delicious breakfast!

Shopping Sundays in Ghent

In the Netherlands it has been a tradition for many years now, but in Belgium it’s still a relatively new phenomenon: the Shopping Sundays. This winter Ghent will see its first four editions. Then, from March unwards, there will be fixed opening hours on each first Sunday of the month.

On December the 4th , 11th and 18th and on January 8th shops in Ghent’s inner city will be open for the Shopping Sundays. A perfect time to do some Christmas shopping. And if it all becomes a bit “last minute”, then you can still shop during the evening of December 23th. The fourth Shopping Sunday on January 8 is in the middle of the sales season, which runs from January 8 to 31 2017.
From March 5th 2017 onwards, shops in the city centre of Ghent will open during each first Sunday of the month. All participating shops can be recognised by their window banners.
Shop & Hop – a service for handsfree shopping – fits perfectly in the concept of comfortable and carefree shopping on Sunday in the city of Ghent.
And if you feel like dropping after all that shopping, our steadfast Hotel Astoria is there to receive you! If you bought too much, then you can always book a second room.

City Card Ghent All-in: Experience Ghent in full

Are you eager to really get to know the city of Jacob Artevelde? Are you fond of the different museums in Gent, do you feel like visiting its monuments or do you prefer a roundabout on the internal waterways of the city? In that case, the All-in City Card is an ideal solution for you!

The City Card Ghent is a profitable all-in entrance card that gives you access to all important monuments, museums and attractions in Ghent. You can also use it to make a guided tour by boat, or to travel by the city busses and trams of ‘De Lijn’ in Ghent. With tramline 1, the museum line as it were, you cross the historical inner city of Ghent and can easily reach the different museums and places of interest. You can also rent a bike for 1 day with the card or sail along with the “hop on hop off” water tram for one day (the latter solely from April 1st until November 1st, on Saturday and Sunday from 11.00 until 18.30)

With the City Card you can also inspect the restoration of the Lam Gods from nearby, both the tryptic and the panel which has been restored in the MSK, as well as the exposition in the ‘Caermersklooster’. The STAM, MSK, S.M.A.K., and Caermersklooster are accessible to wheelchair users, their attendants can visit the museum for free


Buying a City Card includes a handy little user guide which tells you where you need to be and how to reach it within the city of Ghent. All the information available at your fingertips.

To use this all-in packet you only pay 30 or 35 euro, depending on whether you want to discover the city for 48 or 72 hours. In the low season (November-March) you save almost € 15.00, in the high season over € 20. For children under the age of 12 most of the museums are free, so a City Card is unnecessary.


At every entrance the card is checked, except on tram and bus. Therefore you have to fill in a start date on the back of the card and show it to the driver.
More information on the city card and the participating museums and attractions you can find here. The museum tramline 1 also brings you close to Hotel Astoria, the ideal location to cool down from all that urban beauty. The City Card is also available at our reception.

Ghent’s circulation plan vs. the accessibility of Hotel Astoria = great combination

Since April 3th 2017 the new circulation plan will determine the traffic in Ghent. The city center has been divided into six sectors and a central restricted traffic area. Your GPS may not be up to date, so do pay attention to the new road signs or use Google Maps. The plan has already provoked a steady stream of controversy: according to one it’s a blessing, according to another a curse.

So what about our own Hotel Astoria? Well, we are in an excellent position, actually. Our hotel is just outside the border of the inner city, so the innovation of the circulation plan do not affect us negatively in the slightest. We are still within a stone’s throw of the major inroads into Ghent, and the main Ghent Sin-Pieters railway station is only a five minute walk from our hotel. In effect, this means we are now a great deal more accessible than the hotels in the city center.


On top of that, you can hop on a tram near the hotel that will take you to the old Medieval town in ten minutes time. If the weather is lovely, you can take a 25 minute walk, through the beautiful Citadel Park, then following the banks of the Leie river, to end up at the Veldstraat shopping street or the Kouter square.
You can also rent a bicycle for €10 with us and make it an active day. And in the meantime you can leave your car in our private parking at minimal cost.
So don’t hesitate and circulate on over to our website where you can book one of our 27 beautiful rooms in order to have a stress-free time in Ghent. Sounds like a plan!

Travel to Belgium by plane at a discount with the Hi Belgium Pass.

For our visitors from abroad Brussels Airlines now offers a nice formula: with the new Hi Belgium Pass you can fly from different countries to Belgium at a discount and enjoy activities in two Belgian cities of your choice. Of course Ghent is among those, with special attention for one of Belgium’s most important cultural treasures, the Ghent Altarpiece.

Using the Hi Belgium Pass tourists can travel by plane to Belgium for 149 and enjoy sveral advantages. You can travel to ‘Brussels Airport’ from 18 countries and 49 cities in Europe (Denmark, Germany, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Lithuania, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland). With the pass you arrive on Thursday, Friday or Saturday and depart on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. For the unitary price of 149 euro you have a two-way flight (including luggage and tax), a train ticket for all of Belgium for the length of your stay and activity vouchers for two cities (during the booking you can select 2 Belgian cities of your choice).

The activity voucher for Ghent is a “Mystic Lamb Combi Ticket”, on which you can visit the three locations where the Ghent Altarpiece (aka the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb) is being restaured: Sint-Baafs Cathedraal, the Caermers Abbey and the Museum of Fine Arts. The ticket comes with a map which lets you explore Ghent in the time of the Van Eyck brothers on foot.
You can book the Hi Belgium Pass here. And if after seeing the Lamb you feel like counting sheep, you can lay down your head in comfort at our Hotel Astoria.

Ghent On Wheels: the city seen from a wheelchair

Mobility in Ghent has led to plenty of discussion these past few months. What are often overlooked are the continuing efforts of the city to make herself more accessible for wheelchair users.

The Ghent On Wheels project charts that accessibility, quite literally. The city council has worked together with the On Wheels organisation, that develops apps for wheelchair users. With the app, users can check the accessibility of shops, restaurants, parking spaces, sanitation and tourist attractions.
Through a collaboration with JCI, an organisation for young entrepreneurs, two so-called “roller routes” are offered on the app since last year. Those are thematic routes which were tested on how accessible they are, by the wheelchair users themselves.


Now the city council, On Wheels and JCI proceed with the next phase: a tourist map for visitors using a wheelchair with accessibility info on public spaces, transport and points of interest. Existing walking routes in Ghent were studied and tested. Each time the best possibilities and alternatives for people using a wheelchair were sought out.

From May 1st onwards this new map has been available at the tourists’ information centre “Visit Ghent” in the Old Fish Mine, but now you can also ask for it at the reception desk of our Hotel Astoria. If you are a wheelchair user and you reserve a room with us, just send us a message and we will certainly take that into consideration when choosing a room for you.

Hotel Astoria, the centre of Flanders

The location of the city of Ghent, and of Hotel Astoria in particular, forms the perfect starting point to discover Flanders. The station of Ghent-Sint-Pieters is a 7-minute walk and is the gathering place for more than 100 trains, trams and buses departing every day to different destinations. Those who prefer not to walk to the station, can take tram 4 right next to the hotel which brings you in one stop in front of the station.
If you have fallen in love with the city of Ghent then a day pass is a must-have! With a day pass you can make use of all the buses and trams of De Lijn in Flanders. It costs €5 and it will become your best travel companion. If you are staying longer you can also by a three-day, five-day and seven-day pass. The day passes and 10-ride tickets are available at the hotel.


With 6 trains every hour you are in about 30 minutes in the medieval city of Bruges. A return ticket costs € 13 and is valid for one day. From the station of Bruges it’s a 20 minute walk along the Albert I park and the new concert hall to reach the historic heart of the city. Again, the day pass is valid and you can easily reach the centre by bus as well.

A bit further away you find the vibrant city of Antwerp! Three times an hour a train leaves from Gent-Sint-Pieters to bring you to Antwerp Central in one hour. A return ticket costs just under € 19 and the train stops at the beginning of the biggest shopping streets, Keyserlei and Meir, the diamond district and the Zoo. At the Franklin Rooseveltplaats dozens of buses stop to bring you, using the same day pass, to every corner of the city.

We end with the capital of Belgium, also the capital of Europe, which cannot be left out. Almost every 10 minutes a train goes from Ghent to Brussels, but there must be a number of things taken in consideration: do not travel at peak times for 9 am and between 16 pm and 18 pm, choose for the train with the least stops, which takes only 36 minutes. Brussels Central station is the closest to the main attractions and ensures you that you won’t need to use public transport. Unlike Flanders, the MIVB is responsible for all public transport, making a day pass from Ghent not valid.

Ghent restaurants join forces in an attempt to fight food waste

Earlier this week the city of Gent launched an initiative to fight food waste. 40 restaurants joined this project whereby customers can ask for their leftover food to be packed in a recyclable cardboard box. Some of these restaurants are within walking distance of our hotel. Still a bit peckish late at night? You can now enjoy your delicious leftovers in the comfort of your room.

CSI Gent instead of CSI Miami

You don’t want to discover Ghent with a traditional walking tour? Can it be a little more original, active, child friendly?
Fancy playing in a police series with friends or family? And would you rather be the good or the bad guy? Than the GPS game The Target is definitely something for you: suspense, action, strategic thinking and teamwork with the historic centre Gent as your playground. And afterwards you can chill at Hotel Astoria. You find more info on The Target.

Looking for an original gift?

Looking for a nice gift, or an indulging stay without a reason?
Sleeping and Wellness from €103 per person (rates are valid by 2 persons per room)

Book here!

In the footsteps of one of our guests

At the end of February, one of our guests visited our beautiful city. This resulted in some very nice pictures which we gladly share with you.
Are you in the mood for a brisk morning walk before breakfast? Or do you feel like putting your running shoes on? Or just enjoy the sun on a bench? This is all possible in the beautiful Citadel Park, one block away from our hotel.

34352_Indevoetsporenvanonzegasten1.jpg 34353_Indevoetsporenvanonzegasten2.jpg

The Mistic Lamb is not present at the moment because of a major restoration, but the Saint Bavo Cathedral remains a beautiful, peaceful place with lots of treasures. You should certainly take a look inside!


Got hungry from all that action, looking and admiring? Enjoy a delicious hot waffle!


If you feel like discovering our city as well, feel welcome in our hotel where you can enjoy our delicious breakfast with lots of homemade goodies! @ Hotel Astoria



Famous Ghent actors trick tourists in Ghent

The tourist office in Ghent launched a new campagn to promote Ghent as a superb city trip.

In eight short movies, a few famous actors make jokes with a group of tourists that visit Ghent. Below you can find some examples !

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