Everything started in November 1979... with the opening of a small restaurant. Year after year, the enthusiastic family-led management team has used all its energy to turn it into the successful medium-sized company it is today. Under the capable management of Piet and Ann Lecot – Vandermarliere, a team of excellent staff members, which has been with them from the very beginning, ensures your well-being regardless of the occasion.
A short history...

When everything started in 1979, Hostellerie Klokhof did not look anything like it does today.

When everything started in 1979, Hostellerie Klokhof did not look anything like it does today. The restaurant is however still situated in the old farmhouse, dating from 1719. When in the early 1980s the need for a larger and more comfortable lounge arose, we initiated the first of a series of alterations in this part of the farm. Upon completion of the works, we could offer our guests a comfortable lounge where they can enjoy an appetiser or chat over a cup of coffee.

Thanks to the constant strive for quality at reasonable prices, Hostellerie Klokhof could and still can take pride in a constant increase in the number of guests. Encouraged by this stimulating factor, we decided in 1983 to demolish the remains of a few old barns and built the Ambassador Hall, a beautiful multipurpose hall perfectly suited for family get-togethers, such as Communion, engagement or other parties. In recent years it has however been increasingly used as a conference room, thanks to its state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. Situated in a separate building with its own lounge and fully fitted kitchen, the Ambassador Hall can operate fully autonomously. Building this hall (accommodating up to 60 people) has proved to be a real bull’s-eye, as the hall is very frequently booked, not only during weekends, but recently also increasingly on business days.

The next project we tackled was the renovation of our patio area (1986). The various flowerbeds were rearranged, as a lot of our guests wanted to spend time in our garden on warm summer days. The most extensive building works to date started in February 1988. Given the increasing demand for wedding parties, the existing banqueting hall with a capacity of 150 people was enlarged to seat 350 people at round tables. Special attention was paid to the architecture of its outer walls and to its integration into the complex – very few people notice the difference between the old and the new buildings – and inside a simple but efficient solution was found to smoothly and conveniently welcome and serve groups of that size. The banqueting hall’s mezzanine can accommodate up to 450 wedding reception guests.

Later on, the passage from the restaurant into the banqueting hall was turned into a proper banqueting room (40 people), called the Tower Hall. Finally, the existing kitchen was completely renovated and doubled in size. We also seized the opportunity to build 9 comfortable rooms above this part of the building. A new classy hotel was born.

During the next 5 to 6 years, we dedicated all of our attention (and financial means) to the finishing touches and to the further embellishment of the interiors. We continuously invested – with enthusiasm but after careful thought, carefully but determinedly – to increase the quality of the food and the non-food, of the “plate and its setting”, of the culinary aspect and of everything related to it. In the winter of 2004 we realised a truly beautiful project: a brand-new winter garden and terrace, complete with box trees, hedges and sycamore trees, and comfortable outdoor furniture for al fresco dining in a perfect harmony of materials and colours. Many of our regular guests have already congratulated us on this new area. In 2008, with a view to our and our children’s future, the banqueting hall was completely refurbished: the last large-scale project Hostellerie Klokhof needed to confidently stride into the future... with unrelenting passion and enthusiasm, confirming its position as a unique company in this region and far beyond.

A large group of loyal guests, a constant drive for innovation and initiative, respect for our guests’ wishes will always be the leitmotiv of our profession.

Until 1962, the old part of the restaurant was a medium-sized farm with 21 ha of land, run for generations by hard working local Flemish farmers. Every year, these tenants paid their rent to the lords of the walled castle located about a hundred meters down the road, on the other side of the motorway. In the immediate vicinity of the 19th from 1737 - there is another farm also belonging to the lords of the castle. Neither of the farms had a specific name. They were simply called “the Delacroix farms at St Anna”.

Although most farms in those days had a bell on their roof to urge the workers to say a little prayer at the time of the angelus or to call in the farmer and his workers for a simple meal at noon or in the evening at a long oak table, these farms did not have such an angelus bell. It was the last tenant, farmer Alberic Bekaert (1903-1972), who had an angelus bell installed when he had the roof restored in 1933. As this was not at all unusual at that time, the farm was not yet called “KLOKHOF” (literally, “bell farm”). The farm’s first tenants, who kept three to four horses and a herd of cows, were Auguste Vanhoutte (° Tourcoing 1846) and Eulalie Vanhoenacker (° Bellegem 1841). They came to live on the farm after their marriage in 1870. In 1904 Henri Vanhoutte, who had married a daughter of the Lavaert family earlier on that year, succeeded his father. After 17 years, in 1921, he wanted more farmland and decided to move to the department of the Somme in France. He left the farm and the land to his brother Jules Vanhoutte, who was married to Marie Lavaert. Until then, Jules had been a flax merchant in Marke retting flax in the River Leie. The Vanhoutte family had always been successful flax growers. Their motto was: “A farmer who does not grow flax is not a real farmer!” After 9 years, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, he decided to follow his brother’s example and headed for France. In 1930, Alberic Bekaert, a son of the Populierenhof in Aalbeke, and Germaine Vannieuwenhuyze, whose father owned a flax-retting company in Marke, moved into the farm. They kept on farming until 1962, when it became clear that the construction of the international motorway would involve expropriation and parcelling out of the land.

Already in 1957, they suspected things were about to change and bought a larger farm in the Walloon Region. Another reason for this purchase was the fact that there was not enough work on the “Vanhoutte farm”, as the farm had commonly been called since 1870, for their two sons, Renè and Jozef, and their two daughters, Christiane and Gilberte. For five years they ran both farms, in St Anna and in Ferlybray les Mons near the French border. The buildings were on Belgian soil, while most of the land was situated in France.

If you take a look at the map of Kortrijk, Hostellerie Klokhof and the borough of St Anna form a kind of appendix in the South East of Kortrijk, at the first “vertebra” of the “Marke-steert” (literally, tail of Marke). From a scenic point of view, this is the most beautiful wildlife area of Kortrijk! From a historic point of view, this is an area steeped in history. Several archaeological finds indicate that the area was already inhabited during the Stone Age. Just a stone’s throw away, a Roman well was discovered as well. The actual, substantially enlarged “Klokhof” is situated right in the middle of a series of hillocks called the “Kortrijk Mountains”, mainly because of their historical names. Hostellerie Klokhof is in fact located between the Pottelberg, the Kalvarieberg, the Sint-Annaberg (70 m), the Schuttenberg (51 m), and the Marionettenberg (berg = mountain). These toponyms that can be found on old maps of the area have survived in several street names. The local inhabitants also still use them. The E17 motorway has, so to speak, amputated St Anna from its old neighbourhood and its former owners, the lords of the castle (first the Delacroix family and later the de Béhault family). Ages ago, this area was quite densely wooded. The only reminder nowadays is a nearby street called the “Bosstraat” (bos = wood). On a 1770 map however, we find several woods in this rolling landscape: the Bohemerbos (near St Anna) and the vast Sint-Annabos (to the East of the Sint- Annastraat). The woods did not only turn St Anna into a beautiful area, but also into a dangerous one! For many centuries the woods were unsafe, as they were inhabited by tramps and foreign soldiers who had deserted the army, tired of fighting. As a matter of fact, the repeated plundering of the abbey of Rodenburg, founded in 1238, caused the sisters to leave this dangerous place in 1265 and found a new abbey, the Groeningeabdij, on the open fields near the River Leie. It was in the same densely wooded area that the French troops spent the night before the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302, hiding and observing the enemy before attacking the lower situated walled city of Kortrijk. Despite the rural charm St Anna has retained until now, for the local inhabitants “Sint-Anna” also has a rather negative connotation! On the top of the hill, we find the chapel of Saint Anna, built in 1622 by the beguine Barbara Bonte to thank the Lord for the sudden recovery of a blind man. Later on, a group of hermits settled around the chapel and founded a school there. In 1833, this school was converted into a mental hospital. When people nowadays hear someone talk rubbish, they still say: “We’ll bring him to St Anna!”

Now more than ever, the bell on Hostellerie Klokhof tolls for all kinds of festive occasions inviting people to enjoy culinary feasts in a tasteful and pleasant setting.

Piet & Ann Lecot - Vandermarliere