Lonely Planet review
This austere, architecturally-protected former convent is now a unique hotel. Especially in the bargain value 'guesthouse' rooms, a certain Spartan monasticism is all part of the experience. But the effect is enlivened with a few great touches of quietly self-mocking humour.
The 'guesthouse' section has mostly simple single rooms with small pointed-arch neogothic windows. Each has a cold-water wash basin much as they did when nuns were in residence. Most share clean showers and toilets, though Mother Superior's room is bigger (holding up to four) with private bathing facilities and old furniture. Over 30 'hotel' rooms have bright bathrooms and are somewhat more comfortable though they remain rather sober. Some in the former orphanage section have Latin religious quotations carved into the wooden chimney-breasts. Breakfast is served in the columned chapter house where a de-sanctified altar has been recycled with delicious irony to hold a fridge and display wine bottles. Similar enjoyable twists of sacrilegious humour come from the modernist paintings of nude torsos displayed in the 1st-floor chapel.
Services & facilities
- Free Wi-Fi
- Laundry facilities
No imposing entrance or red carpet awaits you here. No clue on the outside that behind the centuries-old frontage on Oude Houtlei is an ancient cloister: PoortAckere. We are an oasis of peace, hidden away from the bustle of the city. Once inside you find yourself in a former nunnery whose history goes back to 1278. The building that turned its back on the world for so many centuries now reveals its secrets to a few favoured guests.The atmosphere is serene and restful, as befits an age-old neo-gothic building. And yet PoortAckere retains its unique character, as a medieval cloister with its own history. It is its domesticity that gives the building its charm. In the 'Kapittelzaal', chapter house, looking on to the garden culinary delights await you. You can enjoy your breakfast buffet or a relaxed dinner served under the tracery of neo-gothic arches. In the guest-house a feeling of peace, freedom and unconcern comes over you in the more austere neo-gothic part of the guesthouse. There are simple, authentic convent cells with a washbasin and communal showers and toilets in the hall and there is a television in the double rooms.Perhaps you will sleep in the St Cecilia room or the monastery cell where sister Philomena stayed for so many years.