Don’t listen to Colin Farrell. Bruges is not a shit hole, he just wasn’t staying at St. Christopher’s Inn.
“St. Christopher’s Inn” is, in my opinion, the perfect name for a hostel chain. St. Christopher himself was many things—among them a martyr and that really tall guy who gave Christ a piggyback ride that one time. We mostly know him today as being the Patron Saint of Travelers and if a hostel inside a bar isn’t proof of his dedication to that role, I don’t know what is.
I learned about St. Christopher, the person, back in 2012 when a couple of friends and I encountered a minor—albeit self-induced—crisis in Bologna, Italy. Long, hilarious story short, we were saved by a kind stranger (they still exist! Even in Italy!) who went well out of his way, literally, to help us. And his wife who was unwittingly dragged into it totally didn’t mind. For as often as we tell that story, it was imperative that we found a name for him since we didn’t know his real one. Having just spent a few months in Italy I was no stranger to the fact that there was a patron saint for just about everything (Saint Genesius—the patron saint of baristas…really now?). So, after a little research, our Italian gas station stranger became known in certain hilarious circles as St. Christopher.
I learned about St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges, the hostel, through a Google search, much like they did in Biblical times. Remembering the story above I was instantly drawn to this place because of the name but quickly realized it was going to be a kickass place to stay during our brief time in Bruges for many other reasons—just like St. Christopher himself has many other patronages. St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges has an awesome bar, private rooms, a beer tasting, and a great location. St. Christopher, the man, myth, and legend, is also the patron saint of bookbinders (yup, need those), fruit dealers and gardeners, toothaches (wtf), and bachelors. Thank God someone is looking out for them.
WHERE IS ST. CHRISTOPHER’S INN?Don’t let Google Maps fool you (the way it does)—St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges is only a 15-minute walk from that red circle, the center of town. A magical 15-minute walk down medieval, canal and waffle-lined streets. Potentially a little bit longer if you’re powerless to resist the magnetic pull of frites and photography as I am.
St. Christopher’s Inn is perfectly located—quickly accessible from everywhere but far enough away from the tourist throngs that falling asleep to the street sounds of a middle-aged woman complaining about her bunions is a non-issue. St. Christopher’s location has that other thing I now look for in all hostels—proximity to WINDMILLS!
I imagine the majority of visitors to Bruges (the ones who stay in the city center) don’t even know these exist here. I fell in love (became mildly obsessed) with windmills while in the Netherlands and these windmills right around the corner from St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges are the perfect spot to watch the sun set and not unwillingly overhear a family’s conversation about their dwindling vacation finances.
ST. CHRISTOPHER’S INN BRUGES
St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges offers coed and girls-only dorm-style rooms, private rooms, and even apartment style accommodations for those of you who are just DONE with living in places that don’t promote beer and chocolate-covered waffles as much as they do here. I personally chose a private room (with private bathroom) because I’m 33 years old and even though I like the casual cool atmosphere you can only find at hostels, I’m really stingy with personal space and how many people I’m willing to share a shower drain with (I lose a lot of hair in there). Plus, if you snore, chances are I’m going to kick the crap out of you, stranger or not, so I’m doing everyone a favor here.
My private room came with tons of space and storage (for waffles, I presume), my own bathroom + shower, coffee supplies in the room, about a billion outlets (!!!), and a sweet view out a window that opens. I love how confident they are that you won’t want to jump while staying here. And all still for hostel prices.
If a library, a bar, a hotel, and the cast of The Breakfast Club all had a baby, it would be St. Christopher’s Inn. It would also be on the cover of every scientific journal out there because WHOA. St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges is a fabulous place to hang out… after you’ve hung out in all the other fabulous places Bruges has to offer visitors—which, by the way, is every inch and every corner of this amazing city.
There’s plenty of common space where you’ll see all kinds of travelers from allover places–groups of friends, couples, singular travelers with their books and spectacles and beer. There are free maps and walking tours, common area restrooms, couches for lounging, and hip décor that is too legit to quit. There’s outdoor seating, indoor vending, friendly faces all around, and me, in the corner taking pictures of ALL OF IT like the creepy little blogger that I am.
🍕 FOOD & DRINK 🍺
In a town that more or less shuts down at 5:00 on the dot, you’ll thank your lucky stars you’re staying at a place that serves food all night. Belgium is all, BEER BEER BEER, then suddenly, “No frites for you!” What exactly do the people of Bruges do after 5? Where do they eat–the church bell ringers, the horse carriage drivers, the white-bearded retired ship captains with pipes and pocket watches? That’s who lives in Bruges, right?
When I’m traveling and I notice all the restaurants are shutting down, I go into an all-out panic the way you would if your house caught on fire. “Quick! Grab everything you can! Leave nothing behind!” Luckily the bar at St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges serves one thing but they do a gnarly job of it: I call it the Ninja Turtle Special; they call it pizza. It’s cheap; it’s delicious; it was gone in five minutes. Pizza, right? You get it. You and me… we’re like… right there.
And as you won’t see from my pictures (Me hungry. Feed now.), St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges serves a pretty good (and complimentary) continental breakfast each morning in the bar. Free breakfast! At a hostel! Meats, cheeses, eggs, fruit, breads, cereals, and enough coffee to last me to Amsterdam. Where I got more coffee because coffee. Pro Tip: Wake yo’ self up early because tables and bellies fill up.
As far as drinking goes, St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges knows what’s up. The hostel is located at the Bauhaus, their Belgian beer bar. In the bar they regularly serve about 25 different types of Belgian beers at any given time and are more than happy to educate you on each. Belgium is proud of their beer culture and they want you to leave with a better appreciation of it, and a little bit of a hangover as well.
But as much as I loved hanging out at the Bauhaus, my favorite part of staying at St. Christopher’s Inn was partaking in their nightly beer tasting. We tried… I wanna say six? different and never-before-tasted Belgian beers and when I say “tried” I’m talkin’ Belgian beer samples here. Worth every Euro penny (or whatever they’re actually called). Our hilarious-without-realizing-it beer guide taught us everything about Belgian beer–the ingredients, the process, and even the gory stories behind the names. With everything else in town shut down, the Belgian beer tasting at St. Christopher’s Inn is a perfect way to spend an evening that went way past my bedtime.
St. Christopher’s Inn Bruges goes so far beyond what I’ve come to expect from hostels–they don’t just toss you some sheets and clock out. We met only the nicest travelers in the lounge and on our beer tasting. Everyone was clearly having a great time but noise at night was never a factor. There are so many extra benefits to staying here I lost track.
- Bike rental
- Super safe and secure luggage storage that even I could figure out
- Free wi-fi – the fastest and most reliable I experienced in all of Belgium + Amsterdam
- Free walking tours of Bruges
- FREE BREAKFAST, remember?
- Laptops for rent
- A 24-hour reception desk
- Free lockers in the shared rooms
- Free printing service
- No curfew and no one under 18 allowed.
They have some of the nicest staff members around and did I mention free breakfast? I was so impressed with my stay at St. Christopher’s Inn and, with locations throughout Europe, chances are I’ll be staying with them again soon.
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