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MANILA, Philippines - Bed and breakfast. The sound of it brings to mind images of warm sheets and fluffy pillows, and the smell of baking bread and brewing coffee.
At the bed and breakfast L’Art de le Fugue in Brussels, visitors delight in calling it their home away from home when in Belgium.
The 5-storey 19th century house did not have a sign on the door to announce that we had arrived at the right place. Except for a small sign beside the door bell, it would have been easy to miss.
Upon entering, we saw a white chandelier ball shedding warm light on a horizontal black and white painting that covered the length of the entire wall of the narrow foyer.
On the next level was the salon; one long room with shelves from floor to ceiling filled with classics, travel books, and history books. This room stretched out into the breakfast sitting room which overlooked the balcony.
By this time, I realized that — as with all houses in Brussels — narrow flights of stairs are the only way up. I regretted bringing such a big suitcase.
My huffing and puffing up the stairs were interrupted by regulars gasps of delight as I discovered another room on each floor. No two rooms were alike in L’Art dela Fugue; each had its own personality, its own theme. All were elaborately decorated with non-conventional pieces. There were 5 rooms in all, but during our trip the others were occupied; we only got to see 3 rooms.
The Asian room called "IndoChine" was plush with red and tan walls. A cheongsam hung over the bed and an Oriental chest and desk completed the look.
Statues collected from China, Thailand, and Cambodia were found throughout the room. A small jewelry box covered in the customary red Chinese embroidered cloth was used to hold the windows open.
The African room called “Lawrence of Arabia” was the last room we saw before reaching the top floor where my room was. It was reserved by a guest who was set to arrive the next day, and it was easy to see why it was one of the more popular rooms.
The room was actually a loft. There was a king-sized bed on the top floor, and the first floor had two single beds, a comfortable sitting area, and a desk. There were also African statues, animal-print covers, and hanging plants.
My last stop was the '70s room at the top-most floor called "AbFab." The walls were covered with psychedelic prints in orange, mauve, and pink. A closer look at the wallpaper revealed that it was actually bedecked with glitter. The bathroom had black and white framed pictures of screen idols from the '70s and '80s: Elizabeth Arden and David Bowie.
It was the bed that was the highlight of the room. When I plopped down on it, it felt like the bed folded me in an embrace and the comforter lovingly wrapped me in warmth.
Early the next morning, I grudgingly got out of bed and headed to the dining room for breakfast. Opera music played softly in the background. The table was decorated with different spreads — peanut butter, chocolate, marmalade. The scent of baguettes and pan de chocolat fresh from the bakery and freshly-brewed coffee filled the air.
One of the owners, Michele Tepic, greeted us and served us coffee. I had to ask him about the way that L’Art de la Fugue was decorated and how he and his partner, Frederic Devalck, planned the concept for this bed and breakfast.
Michele and Frederic bought the house in 2003 without any intention of turning it into a business. But they were avid travelers who had a penchant for buying things from their trips. They soon found themselves with a problem.
“All the things we collected from (our) trips or from the flea market began accumulating in our basement and we didn’t know what to do with them. So we decided to use them to decorate our home,” explained Michele.
It turned out that they had collected enough over the years to put together 5 differently-themed rooms.
“We decided to open it as a bed and breakfast in 2004. We decided to call it 'L’Art de la Fugue' after Mozart’s fugue musical compositions,” continued Michele.
“My favorite room is the African room mostly because of my memories there and, well, the Asian room because there isn’t anything like that here.”
Michele and Frederic both had full-time jobs apart from managing the bed and breakfast. Michele worked for a pharmaceutical company and Frederic had his own restaurant. “We just try to be here in the morning, at least one of us, but we pretty much leave our guests to roam as they please, to read the books and magazines in their room or in the library.
"We want them to make themselves at home. That is the simple concept of this place.”
A simple concept that made for a home away from home to the weary traveler. - Rappler.com
(L'art de la Fugue is at Rue de Suède 38 - 1060, Brussels, Belgium. Email them at email@example.com or visit http://www.lartdelafugue.com/.)
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