If you have grown up somewhere between a small town and a village, in the densely urbanized region of Flanders, then your idea of the countryside is somewhat muddled.
There may be endless fields dotted with trees, cows and horses to your left, but there will always be a house or three to your right.
In Moere, located in Western Flanders but close to the Flemish coast, that feeling dissipates a little. The views of fields and footpaths are panoramic, and houses are few and far between.
One of these houses, close to footpath 62 and next to an old railway bed, used to be a former train station, and was repurposed and renovated in a minimalist yet warm style by the Ostend architect Jacques Verbeke. Hostess Irma and her husband took care of the interior decoration, in collaboration with Design Oostende, adding in design classics such as the LCW chairs by Charles & Ray Eames and the Bouroullec slow chair, both from Vitra. Artwork from Belgian artist Eva Claessens, who lives in Uruguay, graces the walls of room .63. The B&B turns out to be a peaceful place, restful on the eyes thanks to its symmetry and calming colour palette, yet warm thanks to its use of texture.
Making our way up the cobblestone driveway on a cold winter evening, we were attracted by the warm light inside, ushering us in. A tour of the house by the lovely hostess Irma, glass of red wine in hand, quickly makes clear that this bed and breakfast is all about comfort, coziness and quality. A darkly lit library is like the perfect place to hole up alone, while the living area’s fireplace is a warming place to converse.
In the morning, at the hour agreed upon with Irma, we are treated to a freshly squeezed raspberry and orange juice, and a delicious caramelized apple and yoghurt bowl. But that’s not all. After finishing this, Irma rolls in a cart with fresh bread, a selection of local jams, cheeses, and croissants – and she asks us how we’d like our eggs. They arrive perfectly. Leisurely, we enjoy this hearty first meal of the day, while Irma discreetly offers information and chats to us.
We’re off for a cold day in closeby Ostend, walking along the sea-dike, visiting Mu.Zee, having pancakes as an afternoon snack and enjoying mussels for dinner.
On our way back to Spoor.62, Irma texts us to ask if we want to sit by the fireplace. Of course!
The next morning, we’re treated to a different yet equally delectable breakfast. A super light coconut concoction awaits us, accompanied by the same juice as the day before, and on the breakfast trolley, bread rolls, jam and cheese are complemented by a truly refreshing tomato and mozzarella salad and sweet marzipan twists. We’re spoiled, once again.
This day, we decide to explore the surrounding fields and footpaths. The sky is bright blue, the grass is green – spring is on its way but winter is making itself felt, with daytime temperatures of -3 to -5 degrees Celcius. Wrapped up warmly, we venture out. First stop: the villa where the American soul legend Marvin Gaye used to reside when he wasn’t staying in Ostend and was in need of some calm. This is the house Gaye was planning on bringing his mother to, when he got tragically shot and killed by his father.
It’s just a few houses away, and it’s stately and unique. We continue on in the other direction to find three gorgeous elderly farm horses and enjoy the area’s grand views of the Flemish polder.
Frozen after a relatively short 45-minute walk – and determined to come back during a sunnier period – we return to our safe haven. In desperate need of some heat, we decide to make use of the freestanding bathtub in our bedroom. Feeling back to normal and smelling of the amazing Malin + Goetz skincare products in the bathroom, we are both refreshed and warmed up, and ready to head back to the real world.