REVIEW |A-stay in Antwerp

As during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2021 all restaurants in Belgium where still closed the only option to eat out was stay overnight in a hotel and enjoy one of their sleep and dine offers. As hotels where still allowed to offer in-room dining, it was one of the only options to have a proper eating out experience. We had made use of such offers before in Durbuy and Verviers, but this time we decided to opt for an option closer to home in our home city of Antwerp. The A-stay hotel which is literally within viewing distance of our apartment offered a competitive sleep and dine offer for €149 together with the Israeli restaurant Boker Tov.

A-stay is located in the same building complex as the more upscale NH Collection, right next to the Antwerp-Central Station. While NH collection is located at the street side of the building, the cheaper A-stay is down the alleyway to the back of the building.

Check-in is an automated affair, you have to do all the steps yourself on one of the computers in the lobby. Disinfectand is provided to make sure it is coronaproof. The process itself is relatively straight forward, just the scanning of my e-id took some time.

The staff where on hand at all times to assist as it probably is a bit unusual for most people to have to check-in themselves. Roomkeys could be chosen as either a traditional keycard or a more modern palmscan. We decided to try out the palmscan, to see how that would work. As at check in there was a very interesting €20 upgrade to a bigger room, my boyfriend really felt like doing that as it would provide us with some more room for our dinner.

When we went up to our newly assigned bigger room and struggled a bit to get the door to open with our palm scan, a member of staff quickly came looking for us, telling us that our original room was already setup for dinner and if we wouldn’t mind dining there. Of course this was not a problem for us as this meant we could explore two different rooms.

King Stay – Double

Originally we just booked a room with a single double bed (oddly enough the cheaper rooms all had two separate single beds, if you wanted a big double bed you needed to pay for a slightly more expensive room). This was also the room where we would have our dinner. The room itself was in modern and well thought out design. There where power plugs and USB charging points at the exact places you needed them, in the headboard behind the bed there where even special phone holding places. They also made smart use of the windowsills as they put some cushions there to be able to use them as lounge/sitting spaces.

The bathroom arrangement was slightly awkward as there where two frosted glass cubicles containing the rainshower and the toilet.

Being a couple it wasn’t too bad that you where still able to see the other inside the cubicle when lying in bed, but if I was travelling with a friend it would be more uncomfortable. The sink on the other hand was separately in the bedroom, but did offer more than enough room to put your maintenance kit. There where plenty of towels, a little block of individually wrapped soap at the sink and a big multi-use pump container for a shower gel/shampoo combination in the shower. The shower itself had a nice big rain shower head and a separate smaller hand held head, hot water was also available within a short time. The sense of detailing made that the shower drain was designed in the design of the A-stay logo, a nice touch.

Even though it was a budget hotel, you could clearly see that it was aimed at millennials and other young-minded persons as there where several social media references on the room doors and mirrors in the hallways.

The rooms also made use of a lot of smart functions. The first one was of course the palm scan to open the room, there is a reader next to the door above which you hover your hand. If the reading is successful the reader will light up green and the door is unlocked, however it did not always work flawlessly at our room, maybe the technology was not on point yet, maybe it was a slightly faulty reader. The idea behind the technology however is brilliant, no more losing or forgetting your room key and locking you out, hopefully this technology will be adopted industry wide.

Inside the room you could connect with the room on your smartphone, enabling you to control all functions, including the airconditioning, lights and blinds. Either all individual or by using one of the ‘moods’ which used presets to set the colour and brightness of the lights and the state of the blinds.

Of course as both my boyfriend and I are still kids at heart, we amused ourselves by playing around with it. The TV also had a built-in Chromecast to be able to cast whatever you want on the tv from your mobile device. This is a functionality I would love to see in more hotels, up to now I only saw it once before in the Radisson Blu in Malmö.

For dinner a table was setup with plates, cutlery and glasses. There was also a paper bag with a branded tote bag and a paper describing how the evening would go and the items on the menu. In the minibar where already a carafe of water with star anise and two small bottles of lemonade waiting. At around 19:00 the people of the restaurant came around to delivery a wooden board with several dishes on it, which was the entirety of dinner. All plates where delicious and well executed however it felt more like a bunch of appetizers as to our feeling a proper main course was missing.

In case you where still hungry the hotel had a sort of ‘shop’ in the lobby where you could buy drinks and food like pizzas and popcorn or even an option to have a cart to take to your room where you could prepare a steamed meal, which are some very nice options to have in a budget hotel.

XL-Stay Double

After finishing our meal we went up to our upgraded room. The floorspace was indeed bigger, and the arrangement of the toilet and shower cubicles was slightly better as now you Didn’t look straight into them from the bed. All other room amenities where exactly the same as in the other room however, including the fun to play with smart functions.

The bed provided us with a very nice night as it was the perfect balance between soft and firm.

In the morning breakfast was surprisingly coronaproof. The evening beforehand you had to fill in a form to say what you wanted for breakfast. In the morning paperbags where prepared containing all you ordered, standing ready for you in a cooled showcase. You where also allowed to grab a fruitjuice, a piece of fruit and a hot drink alongside. While it was a rather basic breakfast it was fresh and safe, everything you could expect from a budget oriented hotel. Using the paperbags was also a smart and efficient way to make it corona proof.

We really liked our stay at A-stay and where actually positively surprised as it surpassed our expectations. We would definitely stay at another A-stay property for a short overnight in the future.

Have you heard of or stayed at an A-stay before? Let us know in the comments below!

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