My partner’s birthday was coming up and to celebrate the occasion, I thought of going away for a few days. We’ve covered much of the Netherlands so this time, I turned my attention to Belgium. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but as I researched different parts of Belgium, I came across a beautiful castle hotel, not far from the Dutch border, roughly between Antwerp and Liège. Located a stone’s throw from the village of Ordingen, the Castle of Ordingen (Kasteel van Ordingen) is a 19th century castle with a history that goes all the way back to the Middle Ages. These days, the castle (map) is known as one of the best castle hotels in Belgium, with a Michelin-star restaurant to boot! It looked amazing so I had no qualms booking a two-night stay.
A brief history of the Castle of Ordingen
The castle can trace its roots back to the Middle Ages, when a border patrol post was built on this site. It was later expanded into a castle and the castle lords lived there till the early-17th century.
In the 19th century, the de Pitteurs family gave the castle its present-day neo-Renaissance appearance. After WWII, the castle fell into decline and was eventually sold to a partnership led by Richard Sleurs in 1997. Together with his wife, Maria, they embarked on a thorough restoration of the castle and transformed it into a five-star hotel and restaurant.
The Ordingen Castle hotel
I’ve visited many castles in the Netherlands so I couldn’t wait to see this castle. From the main road, a long driveway led us to the parking area. We parked the car and walked across a bridge into the castle complex. We entered the castle and found ourselves in a sun-drenched gallery filled with statues and period furniture. Next to the reception desk, a gorgeous staircase curved its way up around an impressive chandelier.
The interior, designed by the renowned decorator Pieter Porters, is grand yet cosy and intimate, with a classic feel combined with vibrant touches. I especially loved the artworks in the castle, a mix of classic portraits and landscapes, and more contemporary pieces.
The hotel is located in two interconnected buildings: the castle and a modern annex, which also accommodates a wellness centre and a bistro. The castle itself houses Aurum, a Michelin-starred restaurant headed by chef Gary Kirchens, and a striking bar/lounge.
My stay at Ordingen Castle
The hotel has several room types: Comfort Rooms in the annex (or Commander’s Residence) and Suites located in the castle. I was allocated a Junior Suite on the second floor of the castle.
The suite was spacious, with a very comfortable bed and a large bathroom. We dropped our bags in the room and went to explore the castle. On the ground floor, opposite the main entrance, we found the Aurum restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant was fully booked on both nights we were there, so we opted for a dinner at Bistro Richard instead.
Bistro Richard overlooks the castle’s courtyard and has a large, shady terrace with lovely views of the castle. The bistro serves a variety of modern classics, from pastas to burgers and steaks, presented in a refined way. I especially enjoyed basking in the sunshine on the terrace while sipping on a glass of wine and enjoying the view of the castle.
The castle bar and lounge
On our last evening, we made it a point to have a nightcap at the bar. Situated in the castle, the bar/lounge is an absolutely wondrous place. The lounge, with its huge fireplace, tropical plants and colourful furniture, is quite a sight! There are so many details to admire, from the pink chairs with floral cushions to a statue of a gorilla perched on the piano!
I absolutely loved our stay at Ordingen Castle and I was really chuffed that I found this gem. If you fancy a stay at a castle hotel in Belgium, I definitely recommend Ordingen Castle. It’s grand yet intimate, and set in beautiful surroundings. Read on about what there is to do in the vicinity of the castle.
Things to do near Ordingen Castle
Ordingen Castle is located in the heart of the Haspengouw, a gorgeous region of undulating landscapes, fruit orchards, vineyards, forests and historic towns. The hotel offers Vespa and e-bike rentals for guests to explore the surrounding area. Here are some of the attractions I visited during my 3-day stay (the map below also includes a driving route which can easily be done as a day trip):
Sint-Truiden is a beautiful town just a 10-minute drive away from the castle. The Grote Markt (main square), with its numerous restaurants and cafés, is the focal point of the town. The square is lined by various historic buildings such as the Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady. A stone’s throw away lie the ruins of the Sint Trudo Abbey. This 7th century Benedictine abbey has a viewing deck atop the tower and a crypt.
To celebrate my partner’s birthday, we had a fantastic 4-course dinner at Bistro Zutt, just behind the Church of Our Lady. Each course was simply top-notch and the wine pairings were excellent. If you’re looking for a casual fine-dining experience in Sint Truiden, book a table at Bistro Zutt!
Just outside Sint-Truiden are two places that are worth a visit for beer/wine lovers: the Wilderen Brewery and Distillery, and the nearby Gloire de Duras winery, a family-owned winery that’s open for wine-tastings and tours (book in advance).
Tongeren is known as the first city in Belgium. What began as a Gallo-Roman settlement in the 1st century B.C. quickly grew into an important Roman city. Remnants of this Roman past can still be seen in Tongeren; at an archeological site as well as at the Gallo-Roman Museum.
Tongeren is a lovely town to explore on foot. Must-sees include the impressive Basilica of Our Lady, the adjacent Grote Markt and Vrijthof squares, and the Gallo-Roman Museum, one of the top museums in Belgium.
The gentle, rolling landscapes of Haspengouw between Sint-Truiden, Hasselt and Tongeren are absolutely lovely to explore, by car, bike or on foot. The countryside is dotted with small villages, castles, fruit orchards, forests and small vineyards. Check at the Sint-Truiden tourist office for driving, hiking or cycling routes in the Haspengouw area.
Don’t miss these two intriguing artworks in the Haspengouw countryside:
Surrounded by fruit orchards, this little chapel, built on the edge of a slope, is absolutely eye-catching. The chapel is an artwork by the artist Frits Jeuris.
“Reading Between the Lines” see-through church
This amazing structure was crafted by Belgian architects and is built of 100 stacked steel plates in the form of a church. The church form is unmistakable but you also see the Haspengouw landscapes through it.
We had a great time exploring the Haspengouw countryside and staying at Ordingen Castle, undoubtedly a unique castle hotel in Belgium. It was my first time in this part of the country and I’ll definitely return one day.