|The Blayton Suite at the hotel is considered the “royal” suite and has a large terrace, ideal for gazing out at city landmarks.|
A stay at Hotel Amigo puts you just steps away from Brussels’ vibrant Grand Place, lined with an eclectic collection of historical buildings (most notably, the Hôtel de Ville), cafés and shops. On a Sunday afternoon in spring, we found the Grand Place to be filled with visitors from all over the world, enjoying the expansive city square. A quick stroll led us to Galeries Saint-Hubert, a historic shopping arcade covered with glass that lets in a stunning filtered sunlight over elegant restaurants and luxury shops. Also just off the Grand Place we found one street after another filled with seafood restaurants, touting fixed-price menus that include les moules (Brussels’ famous mussels) in a variety of styles (think au vin blanc, marinieres or à la Provençale).
|The Classic Suite at the Hotel Amigo is 750 square feet in size and has a separate living room.|
With Hotel Amigo just a block away, we felt we had the smartest address in town, especially when we checked into Room No. 609 on the top floor. We walked out onto our small balcony and there was the arched roof of City Hall and a glimpse of the Grand Place. Our Deluxe Room was quite spacious, with a small entry foyer with large closets; on one side was a big bathroom with a great soaking tub and double sinks. The sleeping room provided plenty of space for two people to sink into and enjoy for hours at a time, if only there weren’t so much to do just outside.
Michelle Evrard ([email protected]; 011-32-2-547-4709) in reservations can act as your liaison at the hotel if you’re sending an A-lister who needs TLC.
They might opt for the presidential quarters for the view: Suite René Magritte (No. 321), covers 1,200 square feet and has a fabulous vista of the Grand Place. We loved that the bathroom has figures of the Belgian classic characters Tintin, Snowy the Dog and Captain Haddock.
(Note: Hotel execs can craft a trek around town to see the real-life venues where Tintin creator “Hergé” drew his inspiration. They can also get you to the Hergé Museum 30 minutes from Brussels in Louvain-la-Neuve. Ricardo Fusari ([email protected]; 011-32-2-547-4736), the head concierge, can arrange such programs for adults or for kids. But he’s also adept when it comes to having your bed strewn with fresh rose petals and some fine Belgian chocolate and a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Champagne waiting for you in your room after a romantic evening out.
For daytime, he can tap acclaimed local personal shopper Linda van Waeseberghe to guide you around Brussels’ shops where she can point local designers’ wares.
|Brussels’ Grand Place is a vibrant square where people gather for events or simply for fun.|
If you’re shopping on your own, go no further than across the street from the hotel to Maison Dandoy (31 rue au Beurre) for biscuits, cakes, gingerbreads and speculoos (a shortbread biscuit). Other areas worth exploring are the historic Ilot Sacré area of town, the antiques district of Le Sablon and the hip Dansaert shopping district.
Brussels is bustling with restaurants and bars, but save time for Bar Amigo in the hotel lobby; it looks out onto the city’s cobble-stoned streets and famous town-hall and besides, they serve up an amazing signature drink there, the Amigo Rhubarb & Strawberry Smash. (Take two strawberries, two teaspoons of sugar, 2.5 cl. of lemon juice, eight mint leaves, 4.5 cl. rhubarb vodka with an infusion of strawberries and two cl. Champagne Rose. Place mint leaves, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice into a tumbler glass. Use a muddler to crush the ingredients. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the vodka and the Champagne over the ice. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with mint leaves and strawberries. Note: 3 cl. equals 1 oz.)
We loved starting our morning with breakfast at Hotel Amigo, with fresh croissants, excellent coffee and probably one of the loveliest omelettes we’ve ever seen (as well as a nip of Belgium waffles, of course).
Good to know: All rooms here have great views, either of the Grand Place or the rooftops of Brussels. Internet and all other technology are quite up to date, as management recognizes Hotel Amigo is one of the top hotels in the capital of Europe.
The hotel is just a 10-minute drive from the Brussels-Midi train station, a 20-minute drive from the Brussels airport and is two hours from London by Eurostar. It’s overseen by its general manager, Philippe Spagnol ([email protected]; 011-32-2-547-4747).
When booking, be aware of the busier times for the city, such as the Brussels Jazz Marathon Weekend in mid-May, when music can be found in open stages all around in the city.
Brussels’ Flowercarpet covers 20,000 square feet of the center of the Grand Place every two years. The next Flowercarpet will be in August 2014.
Belgian Beer Weekend is held in early September at the Grand Place; the Christmas Market is also held there from December through early January.