Belgium’s latest addition to the 5-star luxury club: Manoir de Lébioles

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Martin Banks welcomes Manoir de Lébioles as a much needed retreat for those who want a short break and don’t want to spend that break in airport queues.

Easter is fast approaching and the arrival of Spring signifies what, for many, will be blessed relief from a long, wet and dreary winter. It’s the first real chance that many will get to contemplate a short trip to revive their drooping spirit.

The season also coincides with a couple of Belgium’s most popular traditions: first, the ever-popular carnival at Stavelot (9-11 March) and, secondly, the start of the motor sport season at the legendary – and famously challenging – Spa Francorchamps racetrack. Both attract thousands of visitors to the region which is known as the Blue Ardennes on account of its abundance of lakes and nearby rivers.

Now there is an excellent third reason to visit this delightful region, less than two hours’ drive from Brussels; there is a new and exclusive club to further entice you. On the doorstep of both Stavelot and Spa, Manoir de Lébioles, is the only 5 star hotel in the province of Liege. It is a fitting and richly deserved accolade for what makes for a splendid place for a short break. 

Built by the architect, minister and visionary George Neyt between 1905 and 1910 – rumours say he was the natural son of King Leopold I – it was owned by the Dresse family for many decades, it fell on hard times and was sold in 1999. Today, under its new owner the complex has regained all its former splendour, with the renovation of chimneys, staircases, floors and more than 120 windows restored to the highest standards by skilled craftsmen. The gardens have also been restored to their full resplendent glory. 

It has 16 air conditioned rooms (each with flat screen TV and mini bar), with ten in the main building and the others in the adjacent wings (including 12 suites and two family rooms). The main building also boasts a small library, bar and the restaurant which is also celebrating after being awarded a toque by the renowned Gault and Milau restaurant guide, who describe the restaurant as a jewel of comfort and elegance.

Chef Loïc Jambon brings a respect for locally sourced ingredients with original twists. The emphasis, says Dirk Peters, front desk manager, is on regional produce, so as to offer the freshest and seasonal food. Loic aims to combine fine flavours and unusual compositions to create regional dishes, all accompanied by exclusive wines. Ingredients like bergamot, shio-koji, kimchi and kombu are matched with more traditional dishes to embellish, delight and surprise.  

The Manoire takes its name from the delightful Bois Lébioles which it overlooks. There are many walks and you might be lucky enough to spot a beaver wandering around. Breath in the air and relax. Still feeling tense from the travails of the week, book yourself into the Valmont Spa and enjoy the pool, sauna, steam bath or a relaxing massage, as well as beauty treatments.  Most people opt for a one or two night stay here. It is also the perfect location for a romantic break.  

Hotel manager Benoit Toussaint says that guests really enjoy the tranquility, coupled with all the luxury touches, with most staying for two nights. Considering it is now a member of the 5-star club, the rates are also very reasonable, with, for example, prices starting from just €270 per room, per night.

 

Such is the quality of a stay here that most guests rarely venture off site but, with all the aforementioned events and activities in local towns, it’s also a good base to explore what is a great part of Belgium. The hotel also organises events including two golf tournaments, one in Liege on 19 May, the other in Spa on 7 July where participants will be treated to a gastro buffet and champagne.

Just entering this place is an eye opener: it is only  at the end of a 1km-long drive that the full majesty of Manoir de Lebioles comes into view. Don’t forget to take a photo at the entrance – there can be few quite like it in Belgium. Don’t want to drive there, have no fear, the hotel even has its very own helipad for those – maybe the odd F1 superstar – lucky enough to have this option.

Manoir de Lebioles, Domaine de Lebioles, Spa (Creppe).

www.manoirdelebioles.com