What’s the Best Area to Stay in Ypres ?
If you’re looking for places to stay in Ypres, stick to the city centre for the best and most convenient accommodation. That way, you’ll have everything within walking distance, including a good choice of restaurants, and all the sights. Tragic events put Ypres and Belgium on the map, and most of the places that you visit will be connected with them. The Menin Gate is an easy walk from the town centre for the evening ceremony.
Best Places to Stay in Ypres
Best Luxury Hotel in Ypres: Ariane Hotel
The best of the luxury hotels is the family-run Ariane Hotel (Slachthuisstraat 58, 8900 Ypres). It boasts an excellent restaurant and first-class accommodation, and in its foyer, displays exhibits found on the battlefields, alongside other items.
The Menin Gate is just seven minutes away on foot, and the In Flanders Field museum is even closer. Relax in the Ariane’s pleasant gardens or hire a bike from the hotel to get to know the neighbourhood. The railway station is about fifteen minutes away if you want to go out of the district.
For a mid-range stay, one of the best hotels is Main Street Hotel (Rijselstraat 136, 8900 Ypres). This welcoming boutique accommodation is conveniently located in the central district of Ypres, which places it within easy reach of the Menin Gate and other sights in the neighbourhood.
Originally a pretty red-brick town house that roasted and sold coffee beans, it’s now a cosy addition to places to stay in Ypres. Retreat to the terrace with one of the beers for which Belgium is rightly famous, or pick a book from the small library.
If you’re travelling on a budget, the best cheap hotel in Ypres is Hotel Ambrosia (D’Hondtstraat 54, 8900 Ypres). With its friendly, laid-back vibe, this family establishment of ten rooms is centrally-situated just three hundred meters from the In Flanders Field museum.
Walk three minutes to the Cloth Hall and the Grote Markt, and five minutes to hear the Last Post at the Menin Gate in the evening, or to see the Gate during the day. You can hire a bicycle if you want to explore beyond the immediate district, with storage available onsite. There are also two child seats on offer for the use of young families.
Are you able to stay in a bed and breakfast in Ypres ?
If you’re looking for a cosy or charming stay, opt for a bed and breakfast stay. Two of the best places are B&B Noja and B&B La Porte Cochère, and they are both centrally situated.
What is Ypres famous for ?
The town of Ieper in Belgium, or Ypres as it is more usually known, is remembered for the battles that took place in its neighbourhood during the First World War. Now, in what were the battlefields of Ypres Salient, memorials, museums and cemeteries honour the 200,000 who died.
The Cloth Hall and town hall can be found in Ypres city centre at the main square. The Cloth Hall today is home to In Flanders Fields Museum, dedicated to Ypres’s role in the First World War. The sites attract many visitors, including descendants of the fallen, but the town itself, situated in the West Flanders area of Belgium, is a pleasant spot for a short stay. It has an interesting history, and pre-dates its role in the Great War by several centuries.
Ypres is best known as the site of three major battles of the First World War, the most famous being the Battle of Passchendaele from July till November 1916. Many cemeteries from World War 1 can be found all around Ypres. The largest are Langemark German war cemetery and Tyne Cot Commonwealth war cemetery.
The Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres commemorates those soldiers of the British Commonwealth. All are remembered here, up to August 16 1917, with their names listed on panels in order of regiment and rank. A more recent addition is the 2002 memorial commemorating the Indian Army contingent, while close to that, a brass model of the Gate provides information in Braille. A nearby stand records two poems in English and Flemish, one by Edmund Blunden and the other by a later poet, Herman de Coninck. If you look around, you’ll notice that old air shafts, and an ice house for refrigeration, still exist.
Further back in history, the site was merely a crossing place over the moat and through the ramparts of the old fortifications, on the way into Menin. After the Great War, it was chosen as the site for one of the four memorials in the Ypres Salient area, due to the fact that it had been one of the main routes to the battlefields, from which many never returned. It was unveiled in July 1927, in a ceremony attended by dignitaries, relatives and visitors, and was broadcast from Belgium to Britain.
Every night at 8pm since 1928, buglers play the Last Post at Menin Gate’s stone archway, with its only interruption during World War Two, when the ceremony continued at Brookwood’s Military Cemetery in England. This poignant tradition is a must-see for tourists, so get there early for a good view.
The town of Ypres was mostly destroyed by the conflict, but has been meticulously reconstructed. The cobbled Grote Markt is the main square, which dates back to medieval times. Its most important building is the Cloth Hall, with a belfry containing a forty-nine bell carillon. Once a thirteenth-century warehouse in the days when the ancient town of Ypres prospered in its linen trade with England, gaining it a mention in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, it now houses the multi-media museum called In Flanders Field (after John McCrae’s famous poem). Of the other museums in Ypres, Hooge Crater is one of the best, following the conflict in a more personal style, while the Ypres Museum will fill you in on the city’s long history.
Saint Martin’s Cathedral or Sint-Maartenskathedraal was built in 1221, but the restored building now boasts a higher spire than the original. Take a walk along the city ramparts on what remains of the fortified walls, or if you have children in your party, head for Bellewaerde theme park with its gardens, rides and zoo. Apart from Menin Gate, other memorials and statues include a Scottish soldier of the Black Watch regiment, Canada’s Saint Julien, 5th Australian Division, and the Ieper Fury in the centre of Ypres.
Ypres today is known as the City of Peace, and has close links with another city that suffered greatly from one of modern warfare’s most horrific aspects. Hiroshima was devastated as the first target for a nuclear bomb, whereas Ypres was one of the first places to experience chemical weapons. Their city councils are determined that this should never happen again, and Ypres has hosted the Mayors for Peace conference.
More sights and landmarks
Find out about the history of this unusual city at the In Flanders’ Fields Museum in the city centre, based in the 13th century Cloth Hall that has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Flanders Fields Museum is dedicated to Ypres’s role in the First World War. The Cloth Hall was originally built around 1200 as a center of Flemish wealth, but was completely destroyed during WW I. After the Cloth Hall was rebuilt.
Kattenstoet or Cat Parade is a major attraction of the city, held every third year on the second Sunday of May. Other famous sights include the nearby Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery which is largest Commonwealth Wargraves Commission cemetery in the world, situated close to the village of Passendale. In the village of Vladslo, north of Ypres and close to the city of Diksmuide lies the Vladso German Cemetery. Another main cemetery is the Langemark German Cemetery.
There are several bicycle rental places in the town. The tourist office issues a useful leaflet detailing cycle routes in the countryside around Yprés such as the Salient. Canal cruises are one of the best ways of viewing the town and surrounding areas.
Main squares located in Ypres City Centre, Belgium
Market Square or Grote Markt — main city square in the heart of Ypres Belgium surrounded by restaurants and shops. It’s a cobbled square dominated by the Cloth Hall or Lakenhalle, the elegant Nieuwerck and the Belfry. The Lakenhalle contains the Visitor Information Centre and also the Flanders Field Museum. The belfry tower is located on the Cloth Hall. On the north side of the square at the City Hall is the historic “Klein Stadhuis” building. The building is now a bistro.
Tthe market square of Ypres was one of the largest in Belgium during Medieval times and one of the most important centres of international cloth trade.
Guido Gezelleplein — former cemetary dominated by the Sint-Jacobskerk or St James Church.