Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Weekend Travel Series: La Butte Aux Bois



There is a couple of key lessons I have learnt over the last month- Don’t compare your situation to others, and always try and turn a misfortune into an opportunity.

I will freely admit it, I get awful envy. I can’t help it, it always strikes when you’ve just come out of a meeting which didn’t go well, and you quickly scan social media and see someone lounging on a beach, cocktail in hand (Yes, social media has a lot to answer for, but that’s an rabbit hole I’m not prepared to go down right now)

And that’s pretty much what happened to me a few weeks ago. Feeling sorry for myself at work, whilst my travel blogging friends were discussing the various trips they were going on. I think I moaned that work was ruing my love for travel, when it sort of hit me. I can still travel, I just have to be more adaptable. I might not be able to go on lots of long haul trips, but I could certainly do weekend travel.

Weekend travel is perfect for those of us who have regular 9-5 jobs and so I decided to start my weekend travel series aimed at the busy corporate worker who wants to getaway from the stresses of work and treat themselves.

So with the new series in mind, I decided what better way to kick things off than book a spa weekend away in the country… but not any old countryside down the end of the motorway. Nope, I flew to Belgium for some serious R&R.


Now as you saw above, two very distinct, but different style of buildings were what I arrived at. I’d decided to head to La Butte Aux Bois, a luxury hotel in the middle of the most incredible countryside of Lanaken. The original building dates back to 1824 and has been a hotel since the 70s, but the new ultra-modern building is actually officially only a couple of weeks old.

La Butte Aux Bois have created a separate spa retreat addition to their hotel; La ForĂȘt, which not only has a luxurious spa, but also has 20 spa bedrooms which are for guests who are staying for a spa break.



Wandering inside, the interiors are modern, high end, but with a touch of quirk here and there. All the designers are local, although that means they can be from three different countries! In fact Germany is only 20 minutes away, and yet Brussels is 1.5 hours.



Eager to get to my room and unpack (I always fly in comfy but not the nicest clothes), I was welcomed really surprised. I think you'd call this eco chic. Wood paneling, minimalist design and with the bed in the middle of the room, or floating as it's called, gave it a very relaxed feel.



Plus when this is the view you get when you wake up in the morning, it really does feel like you are waking up, almost in the forest itself.



Now what appealed to me about La Butte Aux Bois is that it's a serious gastronomic place, and well, you know me, I love my food!

The hotel actually has a Michelin Star restaurant; La Source, so don't worry guys, that post is yet to come. But in the mean time, I decided to head out into the sun for some lunch.



Once again, the ingredients are sourced locally, as take inspiration from Belgium, German and Dutch cuisine. Never having been a huge fan of German food, and not knowing much about the other two, I wasn't too sure what to expect to be honest.

However I can honestly say it was delicious! The starter didn't look much, but boy was it tasty. A mixture of ham, eggs, cream and pickles. Yes it sounds hella weird but trust me, I lapped every drop up a d wanted more.


I had the main if seafood salad, as Belgium is such a seafood eating country as it's in abundance here.


And how about that for lunch time views? Wow.



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After lunch it was time to explore the grounds. As well as the spa, the hotel is geared up to outdoor activities and nature. They do horse riding, biking, cords country running and you can even bring your dog.


Every which way was beautiful. I must have taken a 1000 photographs as they've clearly put alot of thought into the landscape.


It sort of reminds me of an enchanted forest out of a sorry book. Those deep lush greens, perfect blue skies and the cute but grand house standing proud.


After wandering around for hours, and stopping to enjoy a coffee and chocolate on the grass, it was soon time for dinner. Oh yes, I told you Last Butte Aux Bois is a very foodie kind of hotel. Tonight I was dining in their Le Bistro restaurant.


Now if anyone knows me, you'll know I love steak tartare. The softness of the meat paired with the richness fatiness is just heavenly, and this particular dish was no exception.


Next was another ham and egg dish.  Over the course if the weekend I ate so many eggs and usually they might be a once a week occurance for me. This time they were paired with asparagus and chives which are closely grown and in season in Belgium right now. As much as eating eggs and ham twice in once day might not be my usual choice, in fact it was really good, and I can't knock them for that.


The final savoury dish was Guinea fowl with morel sauce. Now whilst I did like the flavours, I found the guinea fowl to be a little dry. However I actually don't think I've ever ate Guinea fowl before so potentially this is what it's supposed to be like? 


Finally I had a (sort of) light dessert of white chocolate ice and strawberry sorbet which was lovely and refreshing and creamy. 

Rolling myself to bed, I remember it was a floating with those huge widow's and I fell asleep looking forward to waking up "in the forest". 
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