Up until now I’d always associated Belgium with chocolates. But not anymore. Not since I read about the gut-wrenching (well, maybe that’s an exaggeration) experience that customers have at the Hotel CasAnus, located on a small island halfway between Antwerp and Ghent in Flanders, Belgium. The place is just as horrendous as it sounds, at least as far as exteriors are concerned. Shaped and designed like an enormous human intestine, the hotel is the creation of Dutch designer Joep Van Lieshout. The place is one large human colon, and the finishing touch is the rear – a giant replica of an anus.
Not everyone might envision spending their vacation inside a structure dedicated to the human digestive system, but surprisingly, a large number of people are actually interested in such an experience. The interiors aren’t all that bad, featuring double beds, showers and central heating. Run by Belgian art lovers Geert and Carla Verbeke-Lens, who purchased it as a part of their collection at the 30-acre Verbeke Foundation sculpture park, is certainly one of the most unique hotels to spend your vacation at. According to Carla, “guests are really happy to sleep undisturbed in a place surrounded by nature. They can see black swans and frogs and discover the stars in the night sky, as well as visiting all our different exhibitions. More and more travelers are coming to us from all over the world to explore what they call a ‘unique place’.” That’s no exaggeration, stats show that more than 20,000 tourists visit the Verbeke Foundation each year and many of them choose to stay at CasAnus. Several other activities take place at the foundation, like art exhibitions of collages and bio art.
Photo: Anda Van Riet / Verbeke Foundation
Spending a nigh inside a large replica of the human bowels isn’t very expensive. At 120 Euro (about $155) a night, guests are made to feel quite comfortable with 3-star hotel amenities. On arrival, guests are taken on a stroll around the grounds and through all the important collections of collage works done by artists from around the world. A bar-cum-café allows mingling between the residents and the owners, who fill everyone in on what to expect at their hotel. Sleeping at CasAnus involves strolling through works of art including a clutch of live chickens and a huge white pod, before reaching a large, comfy bed. The silence is unnerving to a few, but others sleep very peacefully. Since it opened, CasAnus has attracted several people ranging from curious hacks to paying customers, and even overnight artists. Breakfast is included in the aforementioned price, but imagine having a meal inside a colon!
Photo: Thomas Wilemsen