I am so excited to be visiting Ghent again. A Gothic hidden gem in Belgium and really easy to get to. Last time I travelled by train and this time we are taking the P&O Ferry from Dover to Calais and driving. P&O Ferries are launching more and more vegan options and of course we are excited to give them a try. We arrive in plenty of time, no traffic, no queues and straight on the ferry.
We are treated to the Club Lounge with fantastic views, we actually feel that we are taking a cruise! The team is really helpful and we chat with some of the managers about their new vegan options. They are all excited to be expanding their vegan food options and a full vegan breakfast is now available too.
Glyn and Callum assure me it tastes great – by this time I was relaxing to some self hypnosis as I don’t have the best sea faring legs!
The team are working on improving their training and as a vegan of about 22 years now I would love to help. Although the staff are friendly and helpful we would have preferred not to be asked what eggs we would like and be served a hot chocolate with cow milk! However the team have assured me that training is happening now.
We arrive in Calais in 90 minutes and have a pleasant drive to Ghent, why is driving through France so much better than driving though the UK? The time flies by and we are at our hotel in no time ready to unpack and explore.
The centre of Ghent is great to walk around, there are also trams, bikes, guided boat tours and hop on hop off water tramways for some different modes of transport.
Tonight we head to the famous Epiphany’s Kitchen designed and run by Epiphany Vanderhaegen, daughter of the famous Belgian fashion designer Kaat Tilley. In her lifetime Kaat worked with super stars such as Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand and Halle Berry.
The decor, tables, lights and colours are stunning and the magical chandeliers in the restaurant are a legacy of Epiphany’s mother.
The menu is vegan – however you can add non vegan items to what you order. An unusual way of looking at things! The food is amazing, freshly made with some unusual twists including their “Flower Power”, a whole roasted artichoke flower with a vegan cheesy sauce in the middle – perfect for sharing.
“Mushroom of Life” and “Green Envy” are pizzas with a difference and taste incredible…. However the ingredients are all good for you including a yucca base and topped with all sorts of delicious veggies.
We had one of the best nights out as a family ever at Epiphany’s Kitchen, the food is stunning, and the team are helpful and friendly. We were tempted and wish we had gone back during out short visit to Ghent!
Vegan eateries are dotted around Ghent catering for all budgets, Le Botonist looked stunning, Billy Bonka is a small fun looking bar and Mie Vie proudly offers “vegan food and advice”. We find an organic market and treat ourselves to some vegan Belgium chocolate.
We are catered for so well for breakfast at The Ghent River Hotel and this means we just try out some snacks on the go for lunch so we will need to return to try more vegan eateries here!
The team at The Ghent River Hotel impress us by knowing our vegan requirements and on both mornings they present us with an array of Alpro yoghurts, milks and butter.
They advise us that the warm sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms are vegan friendly too so with these, toast, fresh juices, fruit and teas we really are set for the day.
The hotels location is perfect and within walking distance of the main city centre and the rooms are stunning. Our room is one of the nicest, traditional rooms we have ever stayed in – perfect for a weekend in Ghent.
We even find a small home made confectionary shop called Confiserie Temmerman who assured us that their Cuberdon’s are vegan friendly and made with a seaweed instead of gelatine. These are famous sweets made in Ghent, are bright purple, in the shape of a nose filled with a raspberry sweet filling.
Ghent is perfect a long weekend visit and great for us vegans. It is a stunning, friendly city with interesting history and architecture. And even better as we are catered for on the ferry too!
Our top tips for visiting Ghent are:
Maybe visit midweek or Thursday to Saturday as many places are closed on a Sunday. There will still be plenty to do however you may want to check in advance if there is somewhere you are keen to visit.
Booking can be essential for the higher end restaurants as they do get busy even out of holiday season.
Treat yourself to the Club Lounge with P&O Ferries – well worth a little bit of extra space and luxury.
Walk around Ghent at night – it is lit up and looks amazing.
It is well worth investing in a “City Card Gent All In” for 30 Euros for 48 hours as this seems to cover just about everything touristy including entrance to the famous “Castle of the Counts” – a must see while visiting.
Karin was invited to travel to Ghent by P&O Ferries and hosted by Visit Ghent.
This feature was written for Vegan Life Magazine!