The Le Dixseptième’s Superior Suite is decorated with beautiful antiques and objets d’art.
The ultimate Grand Tour of Europe wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Brussels. As the political capital of Europe, Brussels welcomes delegations of business travelers and technocrats, but it’s also ideal for a leisurely city break. From Victor Horta’s Art Nouveau architecture to its exceptional museums, Brussels seduces visitors with its cultural heritage. Not only that, Belgian food is also a major draw. Beyond the artisanal chocolate, the specialty beers, the waffles and moules frites, Brussels is a destination for fine dining that celebrates the region’s outstanding produce. High-speed trains (Eurostar from London, Thalys from Paris and Amsterdam), and low-cost airlines such as easyJet provide easy access to other European cities. On a recent trip to Belgium, Luxury Travel Advisor surveyed the hotel scene and found that travelers will also score a great luxury value with attractive room rates. Here are some of our favorite finds.
Pictured: The courtyard at Hotel des Galeries. The hotel is located at the heart of a 19th-century shopping arcade.
For many years, the Brussels hotel scene could be characterized as traditional and business-centric. (One of the most famous business hotels is the former Conrad Brussels on Avenue Louise, which became the Steigenberger Grandhotel Brussels [en.steigenberger.com/brussels/steigenberger-grandhotel] in January 2013). Recently, an influx of design-driven hotels have been spicing things up. These include the Pantone Hotel, which is decorated in all of the bright Pantone shades; Odette en Ville, which is set in an Art Nouveau townhouse and has a monochrome design palette; The Dominican, a member of Design Hotels; and Be Manos, located just five minutes from the Eurostar terminal. To the delight of business travelers, Aloft has also arrived in town, importing its buzzy bar and cutting-edge amenities.
When choosing accommodations in the heart of Old Brussels, consider our long-time favorite: the Hotel Amigo, situated just a stone’s throw from the UNESCO-listed Grand Place. As you’ll find in Rocco Forte Hotels across Europe, the Amigo is distinguished by intuitive service and smart design by Olga Polizzi, Sir Rocco Forte’s sister, who is the group’s director of design. Elegant and contemporary, the interiors reflect the Belgian setting with lots of local touches like 18th-century Flemish tapestries, reproductions of Magritte paintings, antiques sourced from the famous Brussels markets and Tintin figures in the bathrooms.
Hotel Amigo’s Blaton Suite has a large terrace with a dining table and sun loungers.
The Royal Suite is the crème de la crème of the guest rooms because of its magnificent terrace and fireplace. We also love the Magritte Suite (No. 321), which resembles a private apartment with Magritte-themed décor. Contact Senior Reservations Agent Michelle Evrard ([email protected]; 011-322-547-4709) for VIP reservations.
Note that the Hotel Amigo has more Clefs d’Or concierges (five) than any other hotel in Belgium. Head Concierge Riccardo Fusari ([email protected]) has worked at the hotel for more than 30 years.
Pictured: The apartments at Stanhope Hotel have a spacious living room, a dining table and a fully equipped kitchen.
With a deep sense of place, the hotel works closely with local partners such as the Fine Arts Museum and renowned chocolate-maker Pierre Marcolini. New offerings include a Saturday Art Tour, the Gin Tonic Experience with Head Bartender Davide Trupia and a Christmas package with designer Diane Von Furstenberg, who is a native of Brussels. Her creative team will be designing the yuletide decorations in the lobby.
Right around the corner on rue de la Madeleine, Le Dixseptième is a lovely boutique option housed in the former residence of the Spanish ambassador. (The hotel is named “17th” because one of its buildings dates from the 17th century.) Le Dixseptième has a devoted clientele, mostly business travelers, who appreciate the gracious service and intimate ambiance. The guest book is brimming with grateful notes from charmed guests. Decorated with beautiful antiques and objets d’art, the 24 spacious rooms are each named after a famous painter. We loved the Jordaens suite, equipped with a four-poster bed, fireplace, wall mural and ceiling-high windows. The Rubens suite is also fabulous, and it comes with a small kitchen for long stays. This winter, the hotel will open an additional 13 rooms. For bookings, contact Front Office Manager Philippe De Clerck ([email protected]; 011-322-502-5744).
Pictured: The Hotel Des Galeries’ 23 light-filled rooms are decorated in a contemporary style with pops of color.
The newest luxury address on our radar is Hotel des Galeries, which boasts an amazing location smack dab inside the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, the 19th-century shopping arcade that was inaugurated by King Leopold in 1847. A large restoration project connected adjacent buildings with a glass-enclosed atrium, transforming the space into a design hotel and trendy restaurant. Hotel des Galeries made a splash when it opened this summer, luring the Bruxellois back to the historic city center to sample a large selection of wines by the glass at the bar, and to swoon over the cuisine by Michelin-starred Chef Julien Burlat at the restaurant. The entrance to the Comptoir des Galeries is directly on the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, and there are even “outside” tables for people-watching, surrounded by the famous boutiques. (The comptoir also makes a great place for breakfast. Open every day except Monday.)
Despite its location in the bustling city center, the Hotel des Galeries is a place of instant calm. Decorated in a contemporary style with pops of color, the 23 light-filled rooms are divided into three categories (Classic, Deluxe, Suites) and come with espresso machines and free Wi-Fi. (One room has a terrace.) Booking Tips: The duplex suites resemble private apartments under the eaves. Suite No. 38 is a magical pied-à-terre in a separate building accessed by a suspended walkway.
Between the European Parliament and the Royal Palace, the Stanhope Hotel was Belgium’s first five-star hotel when it opened in 1991. Today, managed by Norway-based Thon Hotels, the Stanhope continues to be a popular choice for business travelers, as evidenced by the fact that all meeting rooms were occupied on the day we stopped by. Unlike traditional business hotels, the 125-room Stanhope has a special ambiance because of the individually decorated guest rooms. Many are done up in an English country style with traditional antiques, and a slew of newly refreshed rooms have a contemporary look by Antwerp designer Pieter Porters. We particularly liked suite No. 363 for the designer’s expert choice of lighting and cool décor.
Pictured: The Library Bar at Stanhope is an ideal place to unwind, with leather sofas and a fireplace.
With its eco-friendly focus, the hotel was awarded the Green Key eco-label, so you will find bath product dispensers instead of plastic toiletry bottles in the bathrooms. The elegant restaurant is quite popular with local businesses in the area, and has a pretty outside terrace. For VIP bookings, contact Front Office Manager Dalia Cortés ([email protected]; 011-322-506-9010).