Côté Canal – Bruges

History of the house

Historical reflections along a medieval canal…

The Côté Canal guest house is to be found in a quiet little street in the centre of one of the oldest and most authentic districts in Bruges.  This charming house has great character and exudes a sense of tradition and warm hospitality. Its frontage is unassuming but its terrace and delightful garden provide breathtaking views of not just any canal but the Groenerei or Green Canal.


Sir Winston Churchill was one of many to appreciate the view over the Groenerei. Collection Brusselle-Traen, Stadsarchief Brugge

A Chequered Past

Côté Canal occupies numbers 8 and 10 Hertsbergestraat, a short, narrow and secretive street. The construction certainly goes back to the Middle Ages, because the houses lie inside the Groenerei ramparts, a zone inhabited from around the year 860.

The Groenerei was most probably dug before the 11th century to supply a neighbouring mill. With the nearby canals of the Sint-Annarei and the Dijver, it would have constituted an ideal first defensive ditch to the south of the town centre.


Lean over the low garden wall and admire the town’s oldest bridges: the Peerdebrug and the Meebrug © David Merrett

In the 13th century, thanks to the proximity of the sea and increasing commercial development, the merchants of Bruges traded a wide range of goods emanating from the four corners of Europe.  What were initially only huge ditches around the city centre were deepened to accommodate fluvial traffic; new canals were dug to improve traffic flow. The Groenerei was one of the greatest beneficiaries of this. The inhabitants of the Côté Canal houses were not, however, merchants but churchmen, as this house belonged to the chapter of  St. Donatus Cathedral until the end of the 18th century.


Among the canons who stayed in this house one can just imagine Canon Van der Paele deep in discussion with the painter Jan van Eyck over his impressive portrait. Bruges, Groeningemuseum

When, at the very end of the 18th century, under the domination of revolutionary France, Bruges became the administrative capital of the Département de la Lys, all church possessions were confiscated, the St. Donatus cathedral was demolished and all building materials and works of art sold off as State property (1799).


Burg square. Behind the baroque style deanery (on the left), is the silhouette of St. Donatus cathedral which would be destroyed in 1799. At the back: the palace of the Brugse Vrije. Jan-Baptist Van Meunincxhove

© Côté Canal

© Côté Canal

The palace of the Brugse Vrije was converted into a law court and the houses which now comprise the Côté Canal guest house, housed magistrates, bankers and notaries. One of these notaries, Jan Claerhoudt, undertook restoration work in 1850 and had it refurbished and decorated in neo-renaissance style.

Living the good life in an eclectic environment

© Côté Canal

© Côté Canal

Since 1901, this attractive and comfortable house has belonged to the family of Caroline Van Langeraert your hostess who, in memory of her great grandparents, has retrieved and restored her family’s furniture and other items. The renovation work carried out in 2005 was done in a spirit of revival of its 18th and 19th century glory.
Most of the authentic elements of the construction such as  timber frame, main oak support beams and ceiling joists, and the wide floorboards in red Nordic pine have been preserved.
Côté Canal was the setting of some movies, among which “In Bruges“, starring Ralph Fiennes.

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  • 4 suites 
  • En-suite bathrooms, Wifi
  • Buffet breakfast
  • By nice weather, breakfast and tea-time in the garden
  • Garden with view on the canal
  • Spoken languages: English, French, Dutch
  • Private parking on request
  • Not accessible for those with reduced mobility
  • Families and children welcome
  • Non-smoking interior
  • Domestic pets not allowed

In the neighbourhood

Let the canals be your guide in the evening when the town is once again cloaked in mystery. Magical places, almost forgotten quaysides or places reputed for their beauty, such as Burg square have a charm all of their own.  How often must the magistrates, inhabitants of the Côté Canal houses, have hurried along these streets on their way to St. Basil’s chapel, the old recorders house of the law court or the new law court?


This Renaissance figure appears to be watching the people going by. The old registry of Bruges, detail © Chiara Ortegat

With many surprises in store, Bruges awaits you !

Guests comments

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A quelques pas de la majestueuse place du Bourg, un quartier calme et authentique. C’est là que Caroline nous accueille dans sa maison de famille qu’elle a aménagé avec goût. Par beau temps, on déjeune au jardin, au bord du canal ! Endroit idéal pour découvrir les quartiers authentiques et les excellents restaurants où s’attablent les brugeois. Chuut...

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Historical authenticity
Ambiance and settings
Quality of welcome
Degree of comfort

19th century House B&B/Guest House 150-220€/room


Côté Canal
Caroline Van Langeraert

Hertsbergestraat 8 – 10
8000  BRUGES
+32  475 457 707
+32  50 333 542
Guest house’s own website